Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Sex, Robots, and Booze.

Part 2. What is it with alcohol commercials and sexy robots these days? Svedka vodka, it turns out, has a highly interactive website that introduces you to their scantily-clad robotic spokeswoman (her friends call her svedka_grl, and she's "the future of adult entertainment," a phrase I can't imagine some marketing exec writing without a smirk). Let's get this out of the way, because I could complain about these specific ads forever: svedka_grl has almost literally no waist, perpetually perked breasts, wears lipstick (gives those cold metallic lips a nice purple pout), and is apparently unable to be in a position that doesn't simultaneously show off her die-cast ass and breasts while allowing her to bat her freakishly-eyelashed eyes. She also spouts inanities like "Svedka salutes L.A., home of the first drive-through plastic surgery window" and "I go both ways: straight up, or on the rocks."

Now, with that out of my system, let's talk a little bit about these sexbot spokespeople, because apart from their popularity among postpubescent pocket miners, they represent a really interesting trend in alcohol advertising. Let's look at the sex component. Sex has been used in advertisement since its inception in the 1920s (advertisement's, not sex's). It attracts attention and creates an association between some of the best feelings somebody can have and the product advertised.

The robot bit is about the allure of complete control. A robot is an automaton, a programmable object. Give it the right input and it will give you the desired output. We know the output: svedka_grl doesn't function outside sex. What, then, is the input? Well, vodka. And that's the crux of the svedka and heineken ads' danger: they imply not only that giving a woman alcohol makes her an object of ultimate sexual control, but that that's the purpose of their product.

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