15 February 2009

Vive la Pub’!

Oh, Marie! How do you get your dishes so sparkling clean?

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, in a move I can’t quite figure out, has banned advertising from the state-owned television stations. Since he’s a conservative, and until recently quite committed to free markets and to more-or-less American privatization, this meddling with capitalism is dubious on several levels. His cronies in private television do stand to profit from the new policy, since they continue to make money from advertising, and advertisers have nowhere else to go. I’m sure that had nothing to do with Sarkozy’s move.

The most important ramification may be this: as of January 5, it has become much more difficult to see naked ladies on French television.

Americans may not appreciate that toplessness is a redeeming feature not only of French beaches and fashion magazines but also of television advertising, and that a bare balcon has until now been absolutely essential to the hawking of any commercial product you can think of. Not just bubble-bath or shampoo, oh no! We’re talking everything from floor polish to dessert topping.

Get whites their whitest!

My favorite ad, seen many years ago, was for a product the name of which I’ve forgotten, and featured a nubile young woman, viewed from the navel up or from behind as she wandered from room to room through a gorgeous home. “I care beaucoup about the quality of the food my children eat,” she told us.

With this, she arrived at the kitchen, reached into a cupboard, and produced a box of cookies.

“That’s why I buy Choco-biscuits,” she continued. “They’re made with only the most wholesome ingredients.” Ever so slightly, she caressed herself with the box, then added, “And real milk chocolate.”

Enter the kids in question, rambunctious from their afternoon games. She gave each a cookie. ”Merci, Maman!” they crowed.

And she glowed with that satisfaction that comes of fulfilling the needs of another.

I’m not making this up.

What do you take for a cold?

One thing seems clear: Sarkozy is out of step with the times. When television is losing viewers to the Internet, and when the global economy is in dire need of any stimulus it can get, the solution must not be resisted. We need more nudity in more advertising, not less.

NOTE: The “pub’” in the title of this piece is French slang for “publicité,” or advertising. Only days after posting did I realize that some readers might think I was talking about something pubic. Ooops.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey, Bill, I think I have the same cookware!

Btw, loved the piece on Andrew Weems.