We all know sex sells. Blah, blah, blah another day another ad with a giant pair of badonka-donks staring at us from the side of the road, the side of our facebook news feed, the side of a magazine article, etc.

But what we may not notice on those billboards, news feed ad’s & mag articles is something just as effective at getting our attention: shame.

To continue on in our book club discussion of Unsqueezed: Springing Free from Skinny Jeans, Nose Jobs, Highlights and Stilettos today were looking at chapter 3: Shame Sells, & Were Buying It.

Margot talks about how Listerine was originally used to cleanse the wounds of soldiers in World War I.  After the war, they began marketing Listerine for bad breath to drum up a little business once their market was lost.  Well, the rest is history.  One really smart advertising team made several ads showing unpopular, unattractive women with bad breath as the reason.  What did they need?  Listerine!

In 1923, this popular ad ran with a disheartened bridesmaid, followed by the now famous quote: “always a bridesmaid, never a bride.”  What did this po’ chick need?  Listerine!

Jerks.  Way to play one of the most sensitive issues of all time: being happily married or being an old fart, singleton with three cats and no spawn.  I imagine this was even more pronounced back in the 20′s when the ad ran.

Are you typically pretty thoughtful when you are looking at ads?

I have tried to be in the past few years, but often it’s an afterthought.

For example, when I saw this ad for Nike I thought…

…wow, they all have nice abs…I wonder if the chick on the far right is biracial…mmm…I’m not digging the girl on the far left, her hairstyle is hideous…isn’t it just so typical that the girl who appears to be out in front of the others is the white girl with long blond hair and blue eyes…and she soooo looks like she thinks she is better than the rest of them…ugh…in any case, she is pretty…why is Serena -or Venus- or whichever one that is, always wearing a weird weave…for crying out loud…don’t they make millions…why is their hair never cute…anyway, I want to have victory in my work-outs, maybe if I wore Nike shoes and worked out like them I could have those abs.  I should get some Nike gym shoes…in pink!  I have never had Nike shoes in pink….I should do a google search and see if they make cute Nike gym shoes in pink! Oh, Jeez!  What am I thinking??? I do NOT NEED a pair of gym shoes.

Would you believe me if I told you I thought all of that garbage BEFORE I came to my senses.

Honest to blog truth: I’ve been BAMBOOZLED by ad’s a hundred and elleventy times.

Thankfully, I’m married to Mr. anti-advertising who can sniff out an advertising guilt-trip in a heart beat followed by a stern, “can you not see how they are manipulating you in these following ways to think and long for these 3 things so that you will buy their product?  Can you really not see that?”

(Rub it in why doncha, Hun)!

Be thoughtful as you take in our increasingly marketing -friendly world.  Examine closely the ads that you find yourself salivating after.

Ask: What message are they trying to send me?

Ask: Is this product (service, etc.) a need or a want?  And especially if it’s Internet impulse purchase!

I’m really trying to work this through ladies & have in no way arrived!

Let’s try!

What does this ad say to you?

I’m thinking…”oooh, maybe if Dave bought me some bling now and then I’d find him more attractive and funny.  It may even revitalize our marriage because I would be so freaking touched!”

How about you?  I’m wondering what one of my -very few- male readers would think?  Any honest response to this?

How about these?



You’d think I’m trying to hate on DeBeers.

Yep, I am.

I find the diamond campaign most reprehensible of all of the evil, manipulative, conniving guilt and shame producing advertising schemes.

Diamond marketing is only 100 years old.  The diamond had purely industrial use.  Marketers -in particular- DeBeers marketed the rare gem to be a sign of “love and commitment,” and associated diamonds with royalty, the wealthy and famous celebs; which they then sold the diamonds to.

What was just an ordinary rock became a multi-billion dollar industry and a world-wide monopoly for DeBeers.

So, what’s the big deal right?  I’ve got a diamond on my wedding band, it’s likely you do to.

The big deal is this: 3 of the 4 places one can mine diamonds are Botswana, Namibia & South Africa.  All on the continent of Africa –the most pillaged and raped continent of all of human history.


DeBeers was essentially funding the guerilla wars for diamond profit in these countries, where kids are losing their limbs and life to procure diamonds.  It’s terribly sad.

This is Musu. You can read more about her story here: http://kenyonfarrow.com/2007/11/05/seeing-my-relatives-in-africa/

I’m not trying to make you feel terrible, I promise.

I’m trying to connect the dots between the ads that lie to us, the reasons we buy the products and the consequences it has on other parts of the world.  Particularly to the poor.

As Americans, I feel like it is our responsibility to consider our actions in these ways.  We are too doggone rich, not to.  (Well, at least I  am!)

Perhaps then, we can determine that an ad is lying to us, that we don’t need another diamond bracelet and especially not given the ways diamonds are come upon.

As for Nike…

…should we not buy shoes (or Old Navy or GAP clothing) because the clothes are made in sweat shops in Thailand?

NOT if were buying them simply because an ad sent us a message that we need to.  Especially not then.  After that, we have to do a little research and determine if our heart, mind & conscience still feel good about shopping there.

(I admit I’ve not done much research on Old Navy/Gap & still shop there for the kiddos.  I do have friends that have black listed them b/c of their sweat-shop ways).

I’ve been a shopper my whole life, but I’m trying to address these issues much more thoughtfully nowadays.

I hope you will too!


…so they DO come in pink!


  1. Are you thoughtful about ads?
  2. Which current advertisements tempt you to fix something that is “wrong” with your body?
  3. What do the DeBeers ads “say” to you?

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