GHD: Dark or Pure?

// 25 May 2008

Is it just me, or is the new GHD hairstyler advert which pops up every time I log out of my yahoo account a little, well, dodgy (aside from your bog standard women’s sexualised bodies being used to sell stuff gripe)? It features two images, which you can see on their homepage: one of a white woman whose body is encased in black latex or similar, one of a different white woman in white latex (refresh the page to see both). The first represents the new “Dark” GHDs, which are black, the second the “Pure” white ones. Now, both are models are viewed as equally desirable, but the problem, as I see it, is that dark isn’t the opposite of pure: that’d be impure, with all its negative connotations. So, black = impure.

‘But hold up PC party poopers!’, cries the adman. ‘We haven’t used a black woman! And, anyway, “Dark” doesn’t mean impure, it means exciting, sexy, femme fatale…’

Yet it’s a white woman who encompasses all these things. Hmmm.


Comments From You

Alex Corwin // Posted 25 May 2008 at 6:17 pm

I hadn’t thought about those adverts in that sense, but I did look at them and think “OH for God’s sake, they’re hair straighteners! They don’t have a pure or dark side, they just get really hot and flatten your hair”

And why do the women need to be wearing skin tight PVC? It’s a hair product, surely all we need to see is their hair? Or am I missing something?

jennifer drew // Posted 25 May 2008 at 7:09 pm

Well all I saw was a woman’s head superimposed on a computerised image of a naked woman’s body (sigh)!! Once again two naked images of women are being used to sell what – hair straighteners no less. But irrespective of whether or not the woman is dark or pure it is the same misogynstic message women are male sexualised fantasies. Either a woman is dark and therefore sexually voracious or she is ‘pure’ but wait a minute no she isn’t pure because she still has that sexual voraciousness which is shown by her being on all fours! Actually both women’s ethnicity is white just that one has a body which is shown as ‘dark’ and therefore sexually dangerous whilst the other has a whiter than white body but which is still posed in a male’s sexualised fantasy. Oh when will these advertisers feature a naked man’s body in a submissive pose and purpose of advertisement will be to promote men’s hair gel?

Alicia // Posted 25 May 2008 at 8:02 pm

I just resent the idea that women are silly enough to pay an extra £40 (the new GHDs are more expensive) to appear smooth, sexless and doll-like. Both the “pure” and “dark” models are entirely a-sexual, despite the come-hither eyes.

Seph // Posted 25 May 2008 at 9:15 pm

What i’ve never understood is how ‘sexy’ women are used to market things to men, and they’re also used to market things to women (that and they seem to have made the assumption that men never straighten their hair).

C’mon GHD! where’s my scantily clad man reclining over a giant pair of straighteners?

Lady Ss // Posted 26 May 2008 at 11:37 am

I got the same vibe from those ads. One just needs to be ‘dark’ in some sense to not be pure. It’s quite a victorian idea at base – having two women, one who is dark and sexual and the other who’s the opposite see: ‘Dracula’ by Bram Stoker or ‘The Woman in White’ by Wilkie Collins for illustrations of this dynamic.

Ami // Posted 26 May 2008 at 2:39 pm

I think every GHD advertisement is awful. There was one that appeared on TV around christmas time where women of different nationalities were praying. The final scene had an english voice over which said”please let him dump her and come home with me.” Well of course! The only reason a girl would want nice hair would be to impress a man. It made me feel so sad that this is an attitude that is promoted.

Anne Onne // Posted 26 May 2008 at 5:01 pm

Whilst I can see the aesthetic appeal of contrasting dark and light, the wording used should be careful, and adverts aren’t the same thing as art.

Perfect example of the Male Gaze at work, since we women are supposed to imagine ourselves through the eyes of men, wishing we were as desirable as the sexy women in adverts, and are supposed to work on objectifying ourselves to reach this aim. It’s pretty standard in advertising, but doesn’t become less annoying every time it’s used.

Northern Jess // Posted 26 May 2008 at 9:04 pm

Jennifer Drew- have you seen that Armani Becks photoshoot?

Seph // Posted 27 May 2008 at 12:14 am

Was GHD responsible for those bloody awful “thou shalt not use them to steal thy best friend’s man” adverts?

If they spent less time thinking up offensive ad campaigns and more time actually working on making their straighteners better then maybe they’d sell more ¬¬;

Lindsey // Posted 27 May 2008 at 12:03 pm

On a similar topic: I can’t remember the brand but has anyone seen those lipstick ads with ‘three colour palettes’?

The three colours are pale white person, standard white person and white person with a slight tan. Has anyone else seen these/know what brand they are?

Anna // Posted 27 May 2008 at 12:42 pm

oh, I’ve seen them – noticed that too.. doesn’t it say something like ‘no matter what your skin tone’ and then have the aforementioned three colours? erm erm I THINK it’s maybelline. I think. but I’m not entirely sure.. but yeah, it’s absolutely ridiculous.

Lindsey // Posted 27 May 2008 at 1:20 pm

If it is maybelline it’s a step back for them – I remember them using black models in the past for things like foundation which is obviously a lot more dependent on skin colour.

I’ve a feeling it was a more expensive brand, particularly as the ad is set on a catwalk implying a link to high fashion. I’ll have to look out for it later when I get back to precious lie-spewing tv.

Sarah // Posted 27 May 2008 at 3:16 pm

It’s Max Factor Colour Collections lipstick, and also interesting to note that the ‘dark’ skin tones are much more limited in choice of lipstick colours than the light skin tones. You can ‘choose your shade’ on their site, though no images from the advert are shown.

The most offensive thing about those GHD ads is how absolutely HUGE they are as tube ads. There is no getting away from them! I’m sure that if the women’s bodies were ‘nude’ they wouldn’t have been able to display the ads so massively or obviously. As it is though, they seem to get away with it as the bodies are so hyper-real they are unreal…almost like some sort of cyborg. Very unnerving and ‘Stepford Wives’ like!

Kuja // Posted 27 May 2008 at 3:36 pm

Yeah, Seph, it was GHD who did the Commandments adverts. And they also did the new “pink GHDs” (which obviously don’t straighten any differently to the black ones) which had a poster of a thin wrist attached to her GHDs by a diamond-encrusted pair of handcuffs and the message “Thou shalt submit” or something similar.

They just couldn’t make their intentions any more obvious than that, could they.

Carmen // Posted 4 June 2008 at 5:51 pm

Hi Everyone…I am the one in the ad for the GHD dark posters you are seeing all around London. To be honest, I feel like GHD was just having a bit of fun by raising the “red flag”. Frankly, it worked because you all are blogging about it. Without going into too much discussion, the majority of women like to look nice when they go out, so perhaps this advert is a way of empowering women by stating that they have the choice of being what they want. “Dark” or “Pure”.

Anne Onne // Posted 4 June 2008 at 6:41 pm

What if women want to be grey? Or yellow? I don’t see how reinforcing a dichotomy could be considered ’empowering’, because it doesn’t really encourage women to find that they want, but pick one of two imaginary choices. Choices that have had a very real role in limiting how women are percieved, and what people expect of women, which in turn affects women’s lives.

I for one don’t want to be ‘dark’ or ‘pure’ (and dark is not the opposite of pure. Impure is…) I find the constricting roles women are cast in a problem.

Well, commenting and complaining is better than ignoring. You can’t really win, but that’s irrelevant.

Holly Combe // Posted 4 June 2008 at 6:46 pm

Carmen: My guess is that GHD went for that angle mainly because they thought potential customers would think it was sexy. They know that, even today, women’s perceived sexiness is often still very much tied up in the virgin-whore dichotomy and that selling this idea as an empowering choice will potentially shift products because some women will find the thought of being looked at that way exciting.

I have to admit I find it hard to believe that they were doing it specifically to “raise the red flag” to annoy feminists and thus get attention drawn to the product. More to the point, I also think that, far from inadvertently pandering to their campaign, blogging about it might actually prompt women to think about the limitations inherent in it and to therefore reject it or, at the very least, question the strategy. I also think the campaign is potentially alienating to women of colour and that the points Laura raised about race will still resonate for plenty of women whose liking for looking “nice when they go out” does not detract from the fact they have a brain in their head and principles to go with it.

And what kind of choice is “dark” and “pure” anyway? What is GHD’s point there? We can be whatever patriarchally defined stereotype we want out of a choice of… two? Nice one!

Carmen // Posted 5 June 2008 at 11:12 am

You all make very good points; however, I didn’t read it like that, perhaps because I met the team of people that came up with the slogan. The reality is…sex sells whether we like it or not. We can spend our days fighting it or we can embrace it and give thanks on how far women have come over the years and continue moving forward. I’m happy I can model and not get stoned to death because I’m perceived as a whore. I do agree that there are still double standards in society, but I believe that the human race will always find a group of people ( Black, Jewish, or Women) to suppress.

Laura // Posted 5 June 2008 at 11:34 am

Thing is, Carmen, it isn’t sex that sells; it’s women viewed as sexual objects. The whole “sex sells” slogan really belies this: women = sex. I really don’t see how embracing that is going to help us.

“I believe that the human race will always find a group of people ( Black, Jewish, or Women) to suppress.”

If we all believed that we’d never make any progress. You’re also assuming that “the human race” = white, non-Jewish (in your example) men. The rest of us are part of it too, and we’re not going to accept the status quo. You may not be getting stoned to death, but other women are, and just flippantly claiming that people are always going to be oppressed does them – and all the other oppressed people in the world, as well as those who have successfully fought against oppression – a great disservice.

chem_fem // Posted 5 June 2008 at 12:33 pm

Carmen, you may not get stoned to death, but if you were the victim of sexual violence at some point in your future (and I of course hope that this is never the case) your job may well be held against you. It can be argued that as a model who has posted in provocative pictures that a man assumed that you were sexually available or that he developed an uncontrollable obsession with you that was inevitably going to end in ‘unwanted attention’. It could be used to argue that you had an open attitude to sex and sexual attention that made you likely to want sexual attention. That you are just complaining about an attack because you are worried about your public reputation and regret what was a consensual act.

Women who embrace sexual freedom can still expect to be punished for it.

Carmen // Posted 5 June 2008 at 1:56 pm

Are you all trying to have a discussion or trying to attack?

I’m not saying I disagree with you; however, I am very offended that sexual attack was even brought up and then referencing that my job would be used against me should that happen to me. You’re disclaimer (I hope that doesn’t happen to you) doesn’t excuse you.

Also, I was using the (Black, Jewish, Women) groups as an example!!! I could use every suppressed group in history if you wish???

I’m done with this discussion as I’m arguing with a bunch of angry women making circular arguments. If you have such a problem with society and they way it is…stop buying products such as make-up, feminine products, shampoo, razors, lotion…you name it…a women is used in a sexual way to promote it. Boycott it all or lobby. You all are wasting your time blogging this. Go to parliament and change the rules if you don’t like them.

chem_fem // Posted 5 June 2008 at 3:06 pm

Why are you offended? There are so many examples of women who have been accused of being partly or completely responsible for sexual assault because of their perceived (not even proven) attitude towards sex, in this country. Women who have been called liars for being anything other than the image of chastity.

We are not free to embrace being sexy without consequences. We have so far to go before we can enjoy our sexuality without risk of violence and yet people are happy to use it to sell more cars or whatever. I can’t just accept that the whole situation is inevitable and ‘resistance is futile’. I feel we could improve this by being more open about the sexual double standard we are being sold. We could be pointing out how absurd the whole thing is. Maybe we can at least get other women to empathise a bit more with each other rather than being the first to condemn ‘that she brought it on herself’, while doing the exact same things ourselves.

Changing attitudes will do more than boycotting products or bringing in unpopular laws.

Holly Combe // Posted 5 June 2008 at 3:07 pm

Carmen: I don’t know if you’re still reading this thread but I genuinely don’t get the impression that anyone was trying to attack you. I’m sorry if it seemed that way. It was Laura’s criticism about the campaign that was being defended and I don’t think that reflects on you, however much you may have liked that particular campaign or simply not taken issue with it. I also understand why you might be inclined to defend it but that’s perhaps straying from the point because I wouldn’t knock you for doing any particular assignment, even if you openly said it turned out to be for something with an advertising strategy you didn’t really agree with. Principles cost.

I don’t think Chem_Fem’s “I hope that doesn’t happen to you” was a mere disclaimer. Ironically, I imagine it was actually her sense of injustice that such things genuinely do happen to women that led to the rather doom-laden phrasing that perhaps gave you the impression she was somehow saying that it *will* happen to you. It all depends on how you experience the world but I would say there is nothing to be gained from denying that injustices *do* still happen and, more to the point, that they *could* affect you. I’m not saying you should live in fear but, surely, confronting uncomfortable truths in order to tackle them (i.e change them) is part of the “moving forward” that you referred to earlier?

I’m guessing you were being flippant in your suggestion that we should boycott all “feminine products” and “go to parliament and change the rules” but would be interested to hear more if you weren’t. As I’m sure you know, we don’t actually have the power to storm into parliament and “change the rules” as if they were merely flimsy obstacles in our way. (And, it’s pedantic of me to ask but which rules are you referring to anyway?)

chem_fem // Posted 5 June 2008 at 3:18 pm

Holly – I also understand why you might be inclined to defend it but that’s perhaps straying from the point because I wouldn’t knock you for doing any particular assignment, even if you openly said it turned out to be for something with an advertising strategy you didn’t really agree with.

I really agree with this and I hadn’t considered that my comment may come across as a criticism of your job. I was just reacting to the sex sells and we are lucky enough to be able to embrace it here comment. I didn’t want to criticise you for what you do, rather defend my POV that it is worth blogging and criticising existing attitudes towards sex.

Seph // Posted 5 June 2008 at 3:51 pm

Am I crazy for thinking an ad for straighteners should include something about the fact that they straighten your hair?

Carmen // Posted 5 June 2008 at 7:22 pm

Things are changing…slowly, but they are changing. I used to work in the city as a banker before I started to do my own thing (other than modeling) and the way companies are structured now is very different from how they used to be 10, 20 even 5 years ago–they are more women friendly. It’s still very lopsided especially in this country; however, we are making headway. People like yourselves have paved the way for women today and for women to be more “sexually free”, regardless whether you agree with sexual freedom. However, there is another side to the problem that perhaps hasn’t been addressed. Women supressing other women and accepting their “second class” (for lack of a better term before I get attacked again) position in society. There will never be true freedom for women if women don’t come together as a whole.

Holly Combe // Posted 5 June 2008 at 9:55 pm

I agree that things are changing (albeit slowly and, as you say, it’s still very lopsided). I also agree that feminism has indeed paved the way for for women to be more sexually free but I’m not sure what to make of your possible implication that feminists somehow have a problem with the idea of sexual freedom. I certainly don’t buy the arguably common idea that feminism’s liberation of women has spawned a sexual monster that is now out of our control and a source of regret for us. I recall seeing this argument presented on the Askmen website and, as far as I’m concerned, it skews the basic truth that the majority of feminists do still envisage a society where full sexual freedom is a reality. We just don’t all agree on how to get there or how much we actually have as it currently stands.

Just to clarify: when you refer to “women suppressing other women and accepting their ‘second class’ position in society” are you saying that women who accept second class status are inevitably suppressing other women? If so, I think this is only the case when such a view is upheld as an inevitable state of affairs that is only right and proper (i.e those who really do think that women as a whole are somehow “second class”). Or are you referring to the way that some women belittle other women who don’t fit with their view of liberation? If so, I’d need to know what you mean by “second class” and, perhaps, why you think your context for that phrase is controversial enough to possibly lead to you being “attacked.”

Either way, I think you’re right that we need to come together as a whole to gain “true freedom.” We just need to make sure we do that without restricting each other and oppressing each other with the very thing that should be liberating us.

Jack Leland // Posted 6 June 2008 at 12:26 am

I think the campaign is supposed to suggest you can be a bad girl sexy archetype or a good girl sexy archetype, depending on which product you purchase. That’s rather silly, but not racist.

I’m not sure how this inhibits sexual freedom, other than that it ties sexuality to selling haircare products, thereby cheapening sexuality. But that has more to do with crass commercialism than anything else. And even if one hated this ad for its cheapening of sexuality, I’m not sure how that makes one a frigid prude, or why it doesn’t necessarily make you someone who values sexual freedom highly.

Anne Onne // Posted 6 June 2008 at 12:03 pm

Jack, saying that the opposite of ‘dark’ is ‘pure’ draws a parallel between dark and impure, which is the real opposite of pure. And making parallels between being ‘dark’ (ie dark skinned, don’t forget the visual impact of the adverts) being sinful, impure, and therefore sexual or bestial IS racism.

Look, you’re a white guy, right? If you aren’t sure, here’s a tip. When somebody says something is racist, and you have privilege that would stop you easily seeing racism, it’s probably racist. If someone says something is misogynist, and you have privilege that would stop you seeing misogyny because it doesn’t affect you, it’s probably sexist. If you’re not sure, why not entertain the idea for a second, that if all these people do find it offensive, they may just be right, and you aren’t seeing it because it doesn’t affect you?

Unless you have a really good reason to assume it isn’t, assume that if you don’t understand, it’s because of your privilege. In the long run, you’ll get better at understanding this in itself, but you’re not always going to understand why something affects someone else. The key is not to assume that just because you don’t see something, it’s not there.

Or to reframe it: if you can’t prove it’s NOT racist, misogynist, anti-trans, homophobic, sizeist, ageist, or ablist, why should you assume it isn’t? Why should we, in a society we know is often wrong, assume everything is perfect until proven otherwise?

mike // Posted 10 June 2008 at 2:33 pm

Advertising has one objective through and through. Grab the publics attention. Guess what, this advert did just that. So while you are all trying to dissect its place and purpose in society – you are merely reinforcing its very shallow meaning. That meaning: HEY, LOOK OVER HERE… GO BUY THIS THING I HAVE!

You may or may not want to buy this hair straightener, but when was the last time you actually made a conscious decision to buy or not to buy a hair straightener? I bet you thought about it one way or another after seeing the ad.

The marketing team commissioned by GHD did their job. While you are all sitting around talking about sex, women, suppression, latex… etc. They are all having a laugh. Saying to each other, “See, I told you they would all notice” as they take another sip from their martinis and watch their sales increase.

GHD, well done.

chem_fem // Posted 10 June 2008 at 3:01 pm

No Mike, this advert didn’t once make think about buying a hair straightener.

It did make me think about that choc ice on a stick though, I may go out and buy one of those….

Anna // Posted 10 June 2008 at 3:21 pm

‘You may or may not want to buy this hair straightener, but when was the last time you actually made a conscious decision to buy or not to buy a hair straightener?’

I believe that was when I thought ‘I need to buy some hair straighteners, it’s growing out ridiculous’..

Sarah // Posted 10 June 2008 at 3:24 pm

If I’ve thought about it at all, I’ve thought about definitely not buying it. So yes, the ad grabbed my attention, but surely the main purpose of advertising is to grab attention in order to increase the probability of people actually buying the product? The attention in itself does them no good. And my drawing my attention in such a negative way, they’ve actually made it less likely that in the (already unlikely) event of me ever buying a hair-straightener, I would buy theirs.

mike // Posted 10 June 2008 at 3:58 pm

Certainly not trying to pick a fight, but take a look at this article. Perhaps then my statements will be a bit more clear. Advertising is a very calculated craft. And my point is not that they are selling YOU more product (perhaps you are not the demographic, or perhaps you make up enough of the minority within their demographic to be a negligible loss) but the buzz you are generating about it IS a buzz. And by generating the attention you have, you are actually helping to promote the product.

This is of course ironic, since you are all attempting to slight the product rather than increase their sales.

Northern Jess // Posted 10 June 2008 at 4:36 pm

I thought about buying hair straighteners, and then thought, why? The only reason I ‘want’ straight hair is because I have been repeatively told that straight hair is desirable by the people who make the products that do it, why would I give someone money because they told me that the rest of the world wanted me to when no one else was saying that to me? I have never ever been asked by a sexual partner (who, apart fom myself, would be the only person who I would care to look good for, and if they didn’t fancy me then I wouldn’t be sleeping with them) to change my hair. Isn’t it odd that straight, curly, wavy, crimped, whatever hair is sexy at the time depends entirely on what new things there are to buy?

Aimee // Posted 10 June 2008 at 4:43 pm

“Look, you’re a white guy, right? If you aren’t sure, here’s a tip. When somebody says something is racist, and you have privilege that would stop you easily seeing racism, it’s probably racist. If someone says something is misogynist, and you have privilege that would stop you seeing misogyny because it doesn’t affect you, it’s probably sexist. If you’re not sure, why not entertain the idea for a second, that if all these people do find it offensive, they may just be right, and you aren’t seeing it because it doesn’t affect you?”

… *sigh* if only everyone thought like you, Anne.

chem_fem // Posted 10 June 2008 at 5:21 pm

Well the Daily Mail seems to make a decent size buzz about feminism all the time. We should have our membership at capacity right now with all that free publicity.

Holly Combe // Posted 10 June 2008 at 5:38 pm

Mike: I don’t know your motives for getting involved in this debate and accept that you might be in advertising but your tone sounds a little strained to me and I strongly suspect that you’d actually prefer it if we shut up.

As I said earlier on in this thread, I seriously don’t buy the idea that they made that ad to specifically annoy feminists. Even if they did, I would see that as a counter-productive marketing strategy because those of us irritated by the campaign will just opt not to buy the product and sales are, surely, their prime concern. Alternatively (as you hint at in your second comment), they might even just see the opinions of feminists as neither here nor there (especially if they happen to assume we’re just a minority of women who don’t care about our appearance anyway). Either way, I would view the claim that feminists are playing into their hands as little more than a rather thinly veiled silencing strategy and a good reason for us to rip a whole load of stuff to shreds that we may not have bothered to critique before.

Indeed, I have to confess that I initially glanced at the campaign, considered it boring and old-fashioned (i.e harking back to the virgin-whore dichotomy) and then forgot about it. But then I saw Laura’s post and some of the subsequent comments and thought “hang on a minute…” and decided that this was a debate very much worth having after all.

Merely noticing an ad is not enough to make sales increase. People need to actually buy the product. So I’m afraid your tableau of the champagne sipping marketing team laughing maniacally at our apparently misguided stupidity just doesn’t work. The fact is that we don’t pay GHD every time we critique their ad campaign (and I’m sure Laura will have used no-follow tags when she linked to their homepage too). I also find it hard to believe that people who had never even thought about buying straighteners before (let alone those ones) are now rushing out in droves to buy them just because we happened to say the ad campaign was crap and that drew their attention to it. I mean, I know there are a lot of anti-feminists out there but that would be a pretty expensive vote against us don’t you think?

IMO, this is a well-known product that a lot of people will purchase regardless of the campaign. As I said before, I imagine the advertisers are targeting women who might find the ad sexy and therefore be inspired to finally take the plunge and opt for their brand. Many of those women will do so regardless of what we have to say on this site but I reckon a few of them will remember the negative publicity and opt for something else instead…

Anna // Posted 10 June 2008 at 5:44 pm

The advert’s put me off GHD, which is a shame because I’ve found them to be the best around [if ridiculously expensive]. I’ll stick to my 10 quid superdrug’s own pair.. on the incredibly rare occasion I use them anyway.

Seph // Posted 10 June 2008 at 8:20 pm

I’ve used a lot of straighteners and GHD’s are decent enough but my £30 Remington pair straighten my hair faster.

Unfortunatly a lot of women seem to buy GHDs under the impression that they’re great straighteners simply because they’re expensive and pink.

Holly Combe // Posted 11 June 2008 at 11:30 am

Mike: Thanks for sending the link to the paper on negative publicity from Berger, Sorensen and Rasmussen. I found it very compelling and ended up reading it from start to finish.

To be honest, I would take the view that any risk that a negative critique of an ad might create a buzz around the product is generally worth it for the sake of free speech. (I’m sure there are some exceptions but that’s another debate!)

However, I have to say I don’t think you picked the best paper to back up your points. It appears you are under the impression that the matter is clear-cut and are confident that it is in advertisers’ best interests to calculatedly provoke bad publicity. You seem to be trumpeting the conventional wisdom that all publicity is good publicity, when Berger & co actually acknowledge that existing studies on negative publicity show this is NOT the case (see page 7). Indeed, they talk at length about the many studies that look at how negative publicity has negative effects.

Nevertheless, their central suggestion is that negative publicity can -in some cases- be positive and they indicate that negative reviews or negative attention to an actor or music artist can increase the success of related cultural products (eg movies or albums) (7). However, I really don’t see how this proves that negative criticism of an advert will increase sales of a beauty product, as this is a thing people use for specific effects rather than a cultural product that can be experienced in a variety of different ways. We don’t actually know whether those people who went to watch a film with bad reviews would buy a product with bad press and I strongly suspect it would be far less likely! (This is obviously just speculation but I challenge you to find a study that actually indicates otherwise.)

But what about the suggestions that negative publicity can increase product awareness (8) and inform potential consumers of its existence (9)? I think this statement gives an important clue as to why this may not apply in this case:

“Negative publicity helped products that consumers should have been less informed about but hurt products that should have already had broader awareness in the population” (31)

I would argue that people are already aware of GHD as a well-known brand and that this is particularly the case for those who currently use or would consider using straighteners.

Here are two more prime quotes from the paper:

“While conventional wisdom may suggest that any publicity is good publicity, existing research has documented only downsides to negative press.” (30)

“Consistent with prior work in the area, we find that conventional wisdom is wrong: any publicity is not good publicity.” (31)

These statements are, of course, ironic considering that you seem to be under the impression that the researchers uncovered some unwavering truth about the positive effects of bad publicity!

One more point before I go… You say we’re all attempting to “slight the product.” I don’t think that’s true. Certainly, for me, the sale of straighteners is not my biggest concern in this debate. The attempted silencing of people who dare to critique advertising, however, is.

Laura // Posted 11 June 2008 at 3:07 pm

Mike – I like GHDs, use them nearly every day. I just think it’s a dodgy ad, for the reasons stated in the post and highlighted by other commenters.

Emy // Posted 18 June 2008 at 3:15 am

Well, after weeks of seeing these ‘dark vs. pure’ billboards around and not having the faintest clue what the hell they were supposed to be advertising, but finding myself irked by the cookie cutter images of highly objectified women nonetheless (really, when are we going to see something different for a change? The woman-as-sex-object thing is getting really tired) I have come to the conclusion that GHD’s marketing = EPIC FAIL.

I don’t care how expensive or fancy their hair straighteners are – I will never be buying their products. Never have, and thanks to these stupid and demeaning ads, never will.

Thanks, GHD, for the gracious invitation to choose from your two dumb stereotypes, but I’ll stick to my Remington straightening iron, thanks :)

Seph // Posted 18 June 2008 at 5:29 pm

After walking past these posters today, I couldn’t help but notice that the woman in the advert’s hair is wavy.

Yeah…great advert for *straighteners* there.

(i’m aware you can use straighteners to curl/wave your hair but one would assume that an advert for straighteners might just want to show their product doing what it’s y’know..mean to do)

helen // Posted 23 June 2008 at 1:23 pm

I think they’re marketed as styling irons rather than straighteners and I think they probably went for wavy hair because it’s fashionable at the minute and also to show the scope of styles you can produce with hot ceramic plates!

I think there are two sides to this women-as-sex-object thing. I just did a course about British cinema from the 1950s to today and when we were looking at the Carry On films, people’s first impression was that Barbara Windsor was exhibitioned as a sexual object of desire for the males. However our teacher said, ‘…but Barbara Windsor is choosing to do this herself. She isn’t forced into a subordinate position, but rather she is choosing to empower herself by showing off her female form confidently. Thus she is free, and using her femininity to put herself in a superior position to the men, by having them lust after her’. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong opinion on this. I like both sides and think there is a lot of grey area and that some examples of women in the media lean more towards the objectifying, degrading side and others towards the empowering side.

In terms of the advertisement in question, I don’t think we should view it as being fenced in and being forced to choose between the virgin-whore dichotomy. It’s probably quite tongue-in-cheek as has been mentioned before and is one of the most interesting things they could have done with it. And it will appeal to their market as a great many GHD-users will be highly interested in fashion and beauty, which both also objectify women because they do impose rules on how women should dress and look based on impressing others and gaining a higher status purely through aesthetics, something which we are told again and again can be done and indeed we are encouraged to think that the way we look is probably the most important thing, especially as women.

But if these fashionistas wish to choose to make themselves look good to please males etc. and they perceive it is liberating and empowering, they should be allowed to do so, just as you are allowed to say ‘this is sexist, I’m not buying that’

abby // Posted 2 November 2008 at 3:33 pm

oh for god sake man, get over it, this is why theres so much shit now about black people and white people, you can’t even make a ghd advert without being accused of being racist! no one thinks black people are impure! they;re straightners for god sake.

Elmo // Posted 22 November 2009 at 1:12 pm

I quite like the new ad. Rapunzel cuts off her hair and nicks prince charming’s motorbike.

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