Thursday, March 19, 2009

Remember, Asians are the smart ones

The premise of any commercial for a men's deodorant, body spray or body wash is the same -- non-stop sex. For example, watch any Old Spice ad. But that's actually not my complaint about this Nivea for Men commercial, because over-the-top sex appeal just so commonplace that it's silly to call it out. Rather, I object to this commercial for another reason (just watch the first commercial here, I think this includes both the :30 and the :15 versions):

Now the first part of this ad pokes fun at some the Old Spice and Axe Body Spray nonsense, by showing teenager parodies lusting for a strong-smelling body wash they think could get them laid (and the only reason they would have that perception? Commercials.) But in the middle of that is a fairly egregious slip-up:

Asian kid (nerdily): This won't increase my ability to mate.

Oh yes -- stereotypes. That's what body wash/deodorant marketing was missing! Man, the constant barrage of flimsy promises of easy women wasn't enough -- I really needed it to hit home with some old-fashioned cheap shots at minorities.

The Bodywash for Grownups

If only Nivea had hired some grownups to write this ad for them.

So, while this commercial doesn't rely on ham-fisted sex appeal, it doesn't exactly elevate the dialogue, either. One step forward, two steps back. We see that pattern far too often around here.


TRichter said...

This has to be the first time I've really disagreed with the custodians of this blog about an ad they've posted. I think it's a real stretch to call that depiction stereotypical. Would it have been okay if the role of the nerdy guy, which by no means was over the top in terms of depicting a nerd, was instead portrayed by a white guy? Maybe it's the fact that I'm something of a nerd myself, and went to school to study nerdy things in the pacific northwest, where I had several friends that resembled the guy in the commercial fairly closely (for as much as we see of him), but I just don't see anything offensive in this ad, which I actually liked quite a bit. If this is perpetuating a stereotype, we'll basically have to change every depiction of every archetypal role in popular media to avoid further transgressions.

Or you're just really overreacting in this case.

Quivering P. Landmass said...

Yeah, I do think it would have been totally different had a white guy played the nerd. Because white people are represented very well in other parts of the commercial.

You can call it overreaction, but I think it's a sloppy mistake in the ad. Agree to disagree I guess.

TRichter said...

Represented very well? Yeah, the guido that comes on immediately after the nerd was a shining example of human achievement. I'd go so far as to say that depiction was 10 times more over the top than the relatively benign one that preceded it. Of course, for that to even matter, you'd have to argue that the asian guy was represented poorly, which I just don't think is the case. Or is being a nerd, if you could even really identify him as such from that 3 second clip, still a taboo concept?

Anonymous said...

wait, y r we even debating about the asian kid on that commercial?

Adam said...

I like how the guy who the product is supposedly for is so indifferent toward it.

It's like:
"Nivea? Meh, I guess I could perhaps use it, you know, as long as it isn't for those kids or whatever. Do I get a free supply? No? Oh, whatever, I'll just use whatever happens to be in my shower currently."

Anonymous said...

this has nothing to do with this commercial, but i suggest that there be an article on the most irritating commercial by McDonalds advertising their "filet of fish" with that stupid talking fish.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand what you're upset about...

An asian kid being a nerd; or not only wanting sex? Or not getting sex?

Your blog doesn't actually indicate anything but your opinion that there was a stereotype (which you mention revolves around the asian boy).

You're completely misunderstanding the commercial; it's about a body wash for men, where the kids think it's a worthless body wash, as it won't attract any women.

I don't see anything wrong with an asian boy in a commercial, and if there is something wrong, then perhaps commercials just shouldn't have asian kids anymore, huh?

If anything about the commercial is wrong, it has to be the third kid (in the :15s video) where he says 'It's gotta make the ladies wanna smell me.' That makes it sound like the kid is saying the body wash will make ladies attracted to him, while the point of the commercial is that it won't, and that it will serve its purpose for MEN.

Quivering P. Landmass said...

I completely understood the ad. The only point I made in my post was about the stereotype of the Asian kid being portrayed as a unappealing nerd, naively thinking body washes needed to have a strong scent.

The fact that you don't see that as a stereotype is, I think, an indication of the extent to which the Asian nerd stereotype is accepted in society now. 90 years ago, we had no problem with Al Jolson running around on-stage in blackface singing "Mamey!!!" and what not. Now we cringe looking at it. A similar pattern will bear out with the Asian stereotype I called out in this commercial.

Also, I think this came out pretty clear in my post. Not sure why there are all these pissy replies.

Anonymous said...

People go out of their way to be offended. The Asian kid was the best part of the ad. Face it, if you're that sensitive you'll never be happy. If the Asian kid had a samurai sword, you'd be pissed. If he had a calculator (or abacus) you'd be pissed. If he was acting 'hip-hop' you'd be pissed. Make like Michael Jackson did and lighten up...