I thought this advertisement was very intriguing and also fit perfectly with Barthes and his Soap-powder essay. This ad plays on the role of gender in marketing and how important and useful it has become throughout the years. Just think about all the commercials on television that are geared specifically towards men or women, there are hundreds! One example of a manly kind of ad would be any car commercial that plays on the use of power, aggression or going on an adventure. Everyone has seen a commercial like that, where some hot shot it driving a huge truck through the forest and up a mountain just because he can. On the other hand, we have all seen the opposite of the latter too, women lounging around in lingerie using their sex appeal to sell underwear, perfume or the newest eye makeup. It all comes down to passivity versus action. Ads that are usually meant to be for women are passive whereas the men’s ads are full of action and surprises.
Barthes understands the categorization of ads and this quote really conveys that he does to me: “But even in the category of powders, one must in addition oppose against advertisements based on psychology those based on pyscho-analysis. ‘Persil Whiteness’ for instance, bases its prestige on the evidence of a result; it calls into play vanity, a social concern with appearances, by offering for comparison two objects, one of which is whiter than the other.” (37) After reading just these few lengthy sentences, I get the idea that Barthes clearly understands the psychology of marketing. You have to make people feel less about themselves so they feel like they need the product that it being advertised, this is big in the beauty supplement market. You have wrinkles? Those are not flattering, so buy this anti-wrinkle cream and more men will look at you and more women will want to associate with you.