This is what I've noticed about advertising (it's not a recent development, but I've been having such a dedicated, nightly liaison with Netflix that I've avoided television adverts for quite some time); only women like yoghurt. Particularly, women like eating yoghurt alone, in profile with their eyes shut.
Sitting with my family in Yorkshire this week, having been through a rather intense day together, we settled down in mute repose to watch some TV. The first advert was for Greek yoghurt. A step up the yoghurt-ladder in quality, my Aunt quite rightly noted. This Greek yoghurt had fruit on the top- or the bottom- I can't recall, so dazzled were we by the blonde, beautiful model delicately peeling back the lid with the care and dexterity of a surgeon performing a skin graft. I won't describe the spoon-to-mouth montage, the mere thought of it could wreck marriages and you've seen it all before. We've all got that seminal slow-mo spoon moment locked in the recesses of our minds.
Photo- Lucinda Hiam 2014
Somewhere in the midst of my reveries- and appreciation of the superimposed back drop of the Parthenon which the Yoghurt Princess was placed in front of- I had that uneasy feeling that once again, I'd been getting it all wrong. Or surely she was getting it all wrong? But she was getting away with it because she was lovely and being paid loads of cash so didn't give a monkeys. If advertising is anything to go by, the way women are meant to eat- or apparently want to eat- yoghurt is the same as the way we're meant to want to eat chocolate, the same way we're meant to feed our sleek cat Sheba, or the same way we're meant to eat cream cheese, shave our legs and wash our hair. This way is alone, with near cosmic enjoyment, fulfilment and gratitude (and in the case of elite cat food, barefoot, with ambient lighting)*. I could clumsily suggest these things are meant to fill a void that only a man could, but that's probably far too complex a subtext for advertisers to deliberately imply, right? Like the fact that we all know Gillette adverts are really about Modern Man's latent desire to sword fight. In my life, my mum and dad have always appeared to eat the same quota of yoghurts as each other, with reassuring regularity. About the only times of the year when I know I'll eat yoghurts are when I visit my parents. And unless mother is pretending to eat hers at lunch but actually sneaking off to the downstairs loo to sit in profile on the toilet seat and consume her Onken in a state of Nirvana, I'm pretty sure the process is nothing like TV tells me it should be.
Photo- Sophie Alderson 2014
When chaps (uniquely) buy beer in adverts, there are loads of them; lads lads lads lads lads. Ergo, we must conclude that beer = good times. The only time women are allowed to congregate in ad-land is over a low-fat guilt lunch where they piously opine about crackers, or in Boots adverts where they stride in high heels down a cul-de-sac in slow motion, to music so lyrically patronising and descriptively inaccurate for their age group that I want to picket my local branch. They don't advertise Normal Women Having a Good Time With Their Mates- Some of Whom Could be Male, because that's not something we need to- or can- purchase.
Sometimes children are allowed to like yoghurt too; see Petit Filou, although these are of course bought and distributed in ad-world by Mum. And they're dainty and cute, like how someone without kids imagined kids. Personally, I quite like Petit Filou as they're Lilliputian enough to justify having two in one sitting, without even snapping them apart. Two of anything at once is daring and a bit decadent: having a bath then a shower, red and white wine simultaneously at weddings, law suits if you're an Italian politician, the list goes on.
The funny thing is, I enjoy loads of things alone, and would feel much more represented if, say, there were adverts for scotch eggs showing a woman like me, devouring one at midnight next to an open jar of mayonnaise, or someone cutting her knee on a cheap disposable razor in the shower and then wandering around with shards of toilet roll stuck to her leg, swearing and waiting for the bleeding to stop (would this be an advert for cheap razors or toilet roll? Or an anti-swearing campaign. You decide). Or a woman opening a yoghurt, licking the lid so it goes on her chin and then getting bored halfway through. She puts the spoon down in casual disgust. She might throw the whole thing in the bin actually, with the anger and self-loathing of someone who's forgotten that twelve nuggets is never satisfying enough at the end of a night out, despite barbecue sauce, and she walks out to do ANYTHING ELSE MORE INTERESTING. Because yoghurt is boring, yoghurt is a basic food item not worthy of sexing up; you either like it or you don't, no matter how much of the Acropolis you can see when you have one. I am not yoghurt, or shampoo, or cream cheese, or a Glade plug-in, so go away. I'll buy it if I want it. I'm retreating to Netflix.**
* In fairness, if someone appeared around the shower curtain to offer me company while I was trying to wash my hair or shave my legs, I would be a little unnerved. Unless they were prepared to bring me a martini.
** This piece is not sponsored by Netflix.
Photo- Sophie Alderson 2014