Bad Ad Essay

Kai Williams, a seventh grader at Manhattan Country School in New York, looks at Maker's Mark bourbon whiskey ad with a critical eye. Williams shows that the sexism and objectification of women in this ad makes it a truly Bad Ad. Kai's essay was the winning middle-school essay in the 2011 Bad Ad contest.

Maker’s Mark: Bourbon  Whiskey Ad

by Kai Williams

            This highly offensive advertisement features a tall bottle of Maker’s Mark Bourbon whiskey against a black background. In large, silver lettering, the ad reads, Your bourbon has a GREAT BODY and a fine character. I WISH the same could be said for my GIRLFRIEND.”  This advertisement is extremely degrading and insulting towards women. By using intensity, explicit claims as well as comparing women to objects Maker’s Mark has created a weak, chauvinistic ad.

            Maker’s Mark uses the concept of intensity in the font, words and image of the ad. Against the plain but dramatic black backdrop, there is an attention-grabbing bottle of whiskey. The bottle draws the reader’s eyes, practically crying out “Look at me! Look at me!” The only component competing with the bottle is the loud, obnoxious words next to it. Using words like fine, great and wish Marker’s Mark belittles women by comparing them, actual human beings, to objects.

The subtext is: buy Maker’s Mark because whiskey is more worthy and better than a woman. The company also enlarges certain words, trying to make their message clear. Perhaps they believe people won’t understand unless they put their sexist statements in big, flashy sizes, but we clearly get the picture.

            Maker’s Mark also uses explicit claims to sell their product. Claims such as, Your bourbon has a great body and fine characterare really just opinions disguised as expertise. There is no actual fact to this statement despite what Maker’s Mark would like you to believe. The company tries to persuade people to buy their product by making explicit claims that are nothing more than the points of view of some people, not all people.

            This ad is highly disgraceful as it compares women to objects and belittles them. If the company really prefers whiskey to human beings, then maybe they should keep their opinions to themselves instead of influencing and advising people to buy their product with sexist statements and false claims. This is an example of offensive media and Maker’s Mark should really consider what they are putting into the world and what they are conveying before they do so.



Budweiser Brianna Glenn
by Jessica Collins

What is the beer brand with a reputation for producing both warm and fuzzy Super Bowl commercials featuring animals and ads that objectify women, promote alcoholism and underage drinking, and portray men as funny and childish and women as uptight and unintelligent? The answer: Budweiser.

This ad was part of a Budweiser campaign in the 2008 Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition and features Olympic track and field athlete Brianna Glenn. Glenn is posing next to a cold Budweiser beer bottle that is only slightly larger than her. Behind Glenn and the bottle is a red background, the Budweiser logo, and tagline “The Great American Lager.” Glenn is wearing a red bikini and red stilettos. Across the bottom of the ad is the Olympic logo along with “Proud partner of the 2008 U.S. Olympic team” and “Brianna Glenn Track and Field.” In the bottom left corner is the trademarked slogan “Responsibility Matters” and the copyright for Anheuser-Busch, Inc., the company that owns the Budweiser brand.

This ad uses many persuasion techniques to draw attention and sell more Budweiser. These include association, beautiful people, celebrities, intensity, repetition, symbols, and timing. Association is used so that we, the audience, associate Budweiser with the Olympics and the USA team. Through the tagline “The Great American Lager,” Budweiser is being associated with America itself. Budweiser is also associated with Brianna Glenn and her image for the purpose of sex appeal. Beautiful people and celebrities are two techniques that are also used with the image of Glenn. Intensity is used with the word “Great” in the tagline. Repetition is used with the color red. The background, bikini, stilettos, and part of the Budweiser label are red. The color red may also be viewed as a symbol for America, China, and the 2008 Beijing Olympics (the logo was mostly red). Finally, timing is used as the ad coincided with the Olympic season of 2008.

While trying to sell beer and maintain brand recognition, this ad hyper-sexualizes both women of color and female athletes. Often, women of color are objectified more than white women in media. Not only is Glenn objectified through her pose and lack of clothing, she is also being associated with the beer bottle. Both she and the bottle appear consumable. Glenn also appears to have been airbrushed from head to toe, a common practice in mainstream magazine advertising. In addition, female athletes are under pressure to appear “feminine” because being strong and muscular isn’t viewed as feminine or attractive in the eyes of society and mainstream media. Female athletes who are both successful in their profession and viewed as strong, beautiful, heterosexual, and attractive to men are more often offered endorsements by major brands and featured in ad campaigns. Advertisers also have the power to make female athletes fit into this visual idea. The Anheuser-Busch slogan “Responsibility Matters,” which aims to prove they are a socially responsible company, seems to be at odds with the messages in this ad and one could argue with the mere existence of a beer ad.

What this ad doesn’t show us is how Brianna Glenn really looks without being digitally altered. This ad doesn’t state what Budweiser spent on their Olympic advertising campaign, what they make in profit each year, how much profit comes from alcoholics and underage drinkers, and where this money goes. Other untold stories include the effects drinking has on a person’s health and life, and the effects sexualization of women has on our communities. These tired stereotypes and images make this Budweiser ad boring, offensive, and bad.


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