Ideology is present in every facet of our culture today. We are bombarded by popular culture with ideological undertones and unattainable ideas reflecting “perfection.” Even in a 32 second commercial, hundreds of ideologies come into play. There are two main types of advertisements today: Ideology as a main focus of the advertisement with the product being left as an after-thought. If a commercial has a memorable idea or an influential ideology behind it, then companies can add a side note about any product they wish. I recently saw a perfect example of this, a family creating pottery together. The commercial, however, was about cholesterol medicine; I do not see a direct correlation between the two. The other method is overloading the consumer with the product. My analysis deals with this type.
I chose to look at a Carl’s Jr. commercial. The commercial features Gizem Memiç who is Miss Turkey. This ad is very “self-aware” and comes with a narration. “To help you remember our delicious new charbroiled turkey burger, we hired Miss Turkey. To help you remember Miss Turkey, we put her in a bikini. And to help you remember Miss Turkey’s bikini, we had it designed with little tiny pictures of our charbroiled turkey burger.” Not only is the audience seeing a repetitive theme, we are hearing it. For 32 seconds all we absorb is “TURKEY!” This ad is a wonderful example of the repetitive nature in which we learn about and therefore consume products. Carl’s Jr. wants us to think of their turkey burger the next time we are hungry. The ad is thoughtfully reminding us and even providing tools to aide in the memorization of their product.
I would like to get in to the specific types of ideology used. If we are using Cultural Theory and Popular Culture as a guide, page 2 describes the second definition of ideology as presenting a distorted image of reality. This obviously is shown in the Carl’s Jr. advertisement. This commercial was created for the public, and in a sense, it is telling the audience “this is what you should like (because we are showing this to a million others and they will like it too and we put millions of dollars in to its production) why else would we show it?” Just in being a commercial, the audience knows we are being shown an idealized and distorted view of the what circumstances arise with product (the burger) yet most of us will still watch it and knowingly or not, absorb the information presented.
An obvious point to touch on concerning this commercial is the exploitation and sexism. Does Miss Turkey need to be wearing a bikini to eat this burger? Of course not, but “To help you remember Miss Turkey, we put her in a bikini.” Being half naked on television is not the most memorable notion anymore, most of us see much more. But the fact is that this advertisement is saying with their presentation of ideology that in order to be remembered, women need to wear fewer clothes. On page 4 of a Cultural Theory and Popular Culture, the forth definition is stated as operating with connotations and unconscious meanings. Sure this is just a commercial and it might not be a huge impact to anyone’s life, but when most of the imagery in our society is laden with women being exploited as sex objects, people’s views are going to be molded to accept and even emphasize these standards in their own lives.
Carl’s Jr. is known for their commercials that objectify women, in order to make a food item look like a sex object. They have done commercials such as: Kim Kardashian naked eating a salad, Audrina Patridge eating a burger (in a bikini of course) with the tagline “More than just a piece of meat”, Paris Hilton washing a car in a leather cut-out swimsuit (“That’s hot”), a montage of women talking about the “human touch” (“It’s better when you use your hand”), and a “teacher” who gets on top of her desk to dance while two boys rap about flat buns (Flatter makes a better rear, stand sideways girl you disappear). Each of these could be analyzed on their sexist nature but for now I think it is important to see that for at least six years (Hilton’s ad came out in early 2005) we have been viewing these ads and the “higher ups” have been approving them for daytime television (which is easily accessible to children).
This brings me to a logical next point of who this ad is directed towards. The magazine Men’s Health sponsored the commercial, which shows that this as is meant for a male demographic. Using women in a sexual manner also alludes to the male demographic. The ad is conjecturing that her bikini is the most memorable part of the commercial (and enforces this by including close-ups of Miss Turkey’s breasts and backside with the justification of the fabric having small turkey burgers on it that need to be seen). Then following the bikini you’ll remember the woman wearing it, then her status as Miss Turkey, and finally what she’s eating It seems that Carl’s Jr. wants someone (male, presumably) to think “hot girl” and equate that to their food.
I hope to develop this reflection further over time, when I can look at actual statistics and information relating to sexism and sexploitation in popular culture. Until then, I think it is important to be aware of the negative ideas and concepts that are prominent in American modern society; as well as analyzing or, furthermore, challenging some of the ideas and notions that are presented to us every day.
“Miss Turkey – Charbroiled Turkey Burgers at Carl’s Jr.” Posted by CarlsJr http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmTLAs6SyS4
All other Carls Jr. advertisements were found on Youtube
Story, J. (2009) Introductory Guide to Cultural Theory and Popular Culture
Sturken, M and Cartwright, L. (2001) Practices of Looking