When it comes to critiquing clueless, racially coded advertising, I err toward “eff you, pay me.” Last I checked, people get cash or at least some free food for focus group participation. But sometimes an ad is so egregious, I’m compelled to provide my services pro bono. Summer’s Eve just rolled out three.
Under the rubric “Hail to the V,” the spots produced by the Dallas-based Richards Group uses three women’s hands and voiceovers to represent the POV of white, black and Latina vaginas.
In what Gawker’s Maureen O’Connor calls a vaguely Canadian accent, the self-effacing, earnest white “vagina” begins with an enthusiastic greeting—“Hello from Vagina Land!”—and implores her owner to stop ignoring her “subtle hints” and be a “BFF” by using a Summer’s Eve cleansing cloth after the gym.
The black “vagina” isn’t so interested in post-workout freshness. Nor does she even use the word “vagina.” Instead, she refers to herself as a “Wunder (sic) Down Under,” and chides her owner for spending so much time on hairstyling when she should be eradicating her natural odor. “An extra 10 seconds in the shower, plus a Summer’s Eve cleansing cloth before you hit the club and bam! We are so Lady Wowza!,” the sassy African-American “vagina” exclaims in a bizarre, imaginary patois.
Now, the Latina “vagina” is at the airport and pissed about another layover. “Ay, yai, yai..seriously?” she begins. Because Latinas always say things like, “Ay, yai, yai,” but, like black women, don’t say “vagina.” Anyway, the Latina vag wants her owner to “show her a little love, boo,” with purse size cleansing cloths, body wash—and the destruction of a certain “tacky leopard thong.” We know she means business about that thong because she curses it in some really fast Espanol at the end of the spot.
Not since Hammer danced for chicken in the early ’90s, have I seen such tomfoolery in advertising. Perhaps it’s because I’m black, but my vagina and I are particularly disturbed by the phrase “lady wowza.” Who besides Joey from “Gimme a Break!” says anything close to “wowza”? Do tell, what appalls you the most about these commercials? What’s worse, the racism or the sexism?