The Perfect Body...of Hair

January 5, 2010
Herbal Essences made an advertisement about their Body Envy Volumizing Shampoo and Conditioner. This ad was meant to persuade customers to buy their product for a perfect body of hair.

The ad centers on a woman. She is in her 20’s and is white. The ad doesn’t suggest a social class strongly. But leans towards middle or upper class. The ad essentially targets white women in their 20’s. Also because the ad was in a People Magazine. The woman in the ad has perfected the human body. She has achieved this in that her hair shimmers. Her body exists flawlessly as a statue in a museum. Her eyes and smile subsist in a way that one ponders if her face is real or not. The ad targets women who are either insecure about their bodies or about their hair. Or both.

The ad says in the top left corner, “May your skinny hair turn into the perfect body.” Literally meaning that the consumer’s hair will have increased body or added volume to it. Along with this in the bottom left corner the ad says, “be Luscious.” Once again telling the reader that the product will make their luscious.

This ad subliminally advertises. And this is the problem. In the top left with the text, perfect body is enlarged and bolded. This draws the reader’s eyes to perfect body. Then the reader sees the model immediately next to the text. The ad emphasizes how the model is absolutely perfect. Then the product itself, Herbal Essences Body Envy, is next to the model. The product is brightly colored with a bloom effect and halo of light. This is used to extenuate the actual product. It appears as a message from the heavens for the perfect body you lust for. Below the product are the words, “be Luscious.” which are slightly bolded. But of course this hammers down how luscious you will be. The ad guarantees that your body will be perfect. But only if you buy their product. And if you don’t…well then you will have to settle for average.

The ad further entices a purchase. The model is smiling suggesting a fulfilling and happy lifestyle, which is potentially another guarantee made by the advertisement. The woman in the ad, however isn’t necessarily real. Her body is perfectly tuned in a surreal fashion similar to a sports car. Her skin is without noticeable blemishes or defects. The model’s hair dangles down as if her body were Angel Falls. The likely case is that the model’s image has distorted to exaggerate and lie about what Herbal Essence’s Body Envy can do for you. The story not being told is that the model, while still beautiful, may not look like the ad portrays her, giving a false pretense.

The values in the ad aren’t negative. The values shown are beauty and happiness, something which is highly valued by our society. While the advertisers tried to sell the beauty and happiness over the product itself, the values are still good. These are both healthy messages and is a plus side of the advertisement. But on the other hand the ad shows that with their product perfection is achievable and no through no other action can this be accomplished.
To convince the reader that this is an absolute must buy, the advertiser used a symbol, the model, for beauty; The Big Lie, that you will become a goddess with their product; Card stacking, in that the ad doesn’t divulge information regarding the life the model lives; and finally Beautiful People, making the possible buyer believe they can be just like the model.
This advertisement illustrates how the media perceives the market. They see us as shallow individuals, who would rather fill our insecurities with products then come to accept our flaws. And that’s why this ad is criminal. It shows how far off the marketers are from the market. It’s ironic in that an ad that advertises for a perfect body, in itself has one of the ugliest bodies as far as ads go.

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