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January 2000


Self-Help Ads

Deep messages in print ads balance materialistic guilt

Passion for fashion and self-exploration have always been seen as polar opposites, but clothing manufacturers want to change that. Ads with messages urging readers to find beauty and greatness within themselves are the latest thing in consumer print advertising.

Ads by companies such as Moschino and Kenneth Cole haven't abandoned the doll-like models blamed for creating low self-esteem in little girls. Instead, they slap fortune-cookie thoughts on top of moody model shots: "Do clothes have the power to make you happy? Will fashion be the new opium of the people?"

Some companies take a different approach. Timberland, for example, rants in tones worthy of inspirational speakers and self-help books: "Every single one of us is called to be a king, a queen, a hero in our ordinary lives."

Is all this feel-good rhetoric designed to make us feel better about buying these brands? Whatever the message, the ads do make readers stop and pore over a page.

by Stacey King

Moschino (top) and Timberland ads sound off about self-esteem, consumerism and the oppressive world of fashion.

Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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