Excel-erate your breath!

I ran into this advertisement while on a trip to Toronto a few years ago. It was very striking in person, especially because of the gender role reversal depicted within the image. It also just had a wealth of obvious devices at play in trying to manipulate the viewer, making it a ripe target for analysis.

Hard to miss, the foundation of the image is a sexual one, with the models about to engage in a kiss. The caption "Excel-erate" plays off of this briefly by implying that one (a woman, in particular) can accelerate the pace of a relationship by chewing this gum. The handsome male model makes this a desirable goal.

I should say that many ads work by enticing the viewer to step into the world of the ad and play a role in that world. With that in mind, I speculate that this ad is targeted at women. The woman in the image is clearly in a position of dominance over the man, being physically above him and prominently in the foreground, overshadowing his face.

As I said initially, the most striking thing about this image to me was the gender role reversal. Not only is the woman the sexual aggressor (being the "giver" of the kiss), but the man is depicted as very feminine. His eyes are closed to receive the kiss (hers are half-open, though it's hard to tell). He is also hairless as a woman is (isn't the stereotypical sexy man always in need of a shave?). The man's face is lost in the shadows, leaving him very anonymous, and (at best) androgynous.

It should also be noted that the woman is wearing clothing (a shirt and earrings, both of which incidentally feminise her), while there is no indication of clothing for the man (thus making him subservient). Ultimately, the message is that this gum empowers women, both physically and sexually, while preserving the femininity.

Summary of Devices