Monday, December 16, 2013

Cracking The Code, Macall Nabors

Cracking The Code

Macall Nabors

Behind Burger King and McDonalds, Wendy’s is the third largest fast food restaurant in the U.S. In 2013, Wendy’s introduced a new slogan “Now that’s better” as an effort to revamp their sells. Is it a coincidence that Wendy’s started a new campaign to transform their image at the same time that they changed the main actress in their commercials?  In the picture below,Wendy Thomas is on the left. The actress in the new Wendy’s commercials, Morgan Smith, is on the right:

Wendy Thomas was the spokesperson under the original Wendy’s slogan “You know when its real.” The slogan emphasized the traditional aspect of Wendy’s burgers. Here is one of the commercials starring Wendy advertising the Bacon Deluxe Burger:

However, in the new campaign, Morgan Smith promotes the Pretzel Bacon Cheese Burger with the updated slogan “Now that’s better.” Here is Morgan Smith and the new slogan:

What is Wendy’s implying is better? The new menu items? The new slogan? The new actress?

If consumers are able to crack the code of an advertisement then they will see the advertisement in a new light that will deter them from buying the product or supporting the company altogether. Wendy’s chose to revamp their actress and not their food. If people notice Wendy’s used a more attractive actress to revamp their sales than they will realize that Wendy’s cares more about money than the quality of their product.

As another example, the advertisement below is for the clothing brand Sisley:

This Sisley advertisement can be seen by all ages when flipping through any fashion magazine. The primary goal of this ad, just like all advertisements, is to sell the clothes. But the clothes are not the center of attention, so there must be some hidden messages in the ad about the company as a whole that would make people want to wear or not to wear Sisley clothing.  

The word “Sisley,” which promotes the brand, is completely overshadowed by theme of drug use in the picture. My eyes are first drawn to the girl in the black dress because she imitating someone snorting cocaine. Sisley even covered a credit card in a powdery substance in the foreground of the image to further highlight the drug use. I am also distracted by the brown-haired model’s extreme dark make-up, and the desperate look in her eyes. The initial questions that popped into my head are where are these girls and what are they doing—not wow where did they get their clothes. I didn’t even notice that it was a white dress that the models we seemingly doing drugs on until I stared at this picture for a couple minutes. Why would Sisley think this picture would make young women buy their clothes?

In fine print under the word Sisley is the phrase “fashion junkie.” A junkie is an addict. Even though it’s an extreme depiction, Sisley is saying that people who are addicted to fashion, fashion junkies, and are “in the know” in the fashion world are addicted to Sisley. However, there is no doubt that the ad is referencing back to the heroin chic fad from the 1990’s with the dark make-up, drug use, extremely thin models, and the word choice of junkie. By bringing back the heroin chic trend, society can crack the code that Sisley believes bone thin is beautiful. Sisley is supporting super skinny models because they choose two super skinny models paired with a theme of heroin chic to represent their brand in a public ad.

The encoded messages of the Sisley advertisement shine a light on the superficial beliefs of body image that permeates throughout society.

On a daily basis, teenage girls are bombarded with pictures that show off skinny models that set-up the guidelines for body image and perfection.  Anytime I turn on the T.V., I see commercials like the Wendy’s one that only uses skinny actors. Anytime I read a fashion magazine, the pages are only full of extra thin models like the Sisley models. Below is a billboard that can be seen when driving anywhere in the United States:

No one should be surprised that everyday more and more girls feel the pressure to be a size two or even a size zero. We see these images and “decode” that skinny and perfect is normal— in reality skinny is not normal and does not equal perfection.

Society feeds the uphill battle of body image.

I am not the only girl that feels the pressure society puts on teenage girls. With one YouTube search, hundreds of thousands of videos exposing the media’s role with body image popped up:

The video says that girls worry more about becoming fat than cancer or the death of a parent. Something has got to change. It is our responsibility as girls to stop movements for heroin chic and all other movements supporting an unrealistic goal of perfection because we as girls are the ones effected.

Dove, a company that sells toiletries for women, has started a campaign for promoting a healthy body image in women. The picture below is the most influencial visual used in the campaign:


Placing the images side by side magnifies how unrealistic the pictures of women we are bombarded with everyday are. If one by one, people start supporting and believing in Dove’s campaign, then society could change its view to embrace real images of women. No more pressure. No more body image anxiety. “Now that’s better.” 


McDonnell, M. (2007). Marketing to target groups. Encyclopedia of sex and gender. 1, 21. Retrieved from

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