This is a 2006 advertising campaign of Keri new skin-care product, Keri Nourishing Shea Butter lotion. It is a remake and reproduction of a well-known painting “La Grande Odalisque” by French artist Jean-August-Dominique Ingres. The written message states this “experience the timeless beauty of being a woman with Keri Shea Butter. Enriched with nourishing Vitamin E, it makes skin feel truly touchable”. It seemingly means that this new product can help improve the consumer’s skin performance.
But indeed, this ad contains intended meanings which include symbolic properties and commodity fetishism. First of all, this Keri’s ad produces symbolic meanings. In this ad, it is not a simply a case that the conventions and themes of an artist or a style are copied, but rather it is a carefully and close reproduction of the original painting. If we compare it to the origin, the head cover, the fan and pose of the nuked woman is almost the same. The product itself has no meaning.
However this careful reproduction of particular elements obvious makes the ad as a reference to the original painting, a classic and wide international recognized work of art which is meaningful to most consumers. As a masterwork of art in the history, the painting is regarded as an important icon of an immortal and timeless signifier of classical female beauty. By creating correlation between the ad and Ingres’ painting, the image, ideas of Ingres’ panting become attached to Keri’s new product. The sexy female nude, the material object, becomes the signifier, and it signified the idea of timeless female beauty.
Therefore, Keri’s new product becomes a sign of timeless female beauty. Moreover, the advertisement creates differentiation between new product and the other products in the same series (Williamson, 1978, p24). Keri’ ad introduces a new product that is enriched with nourishing Vitamin E, an important element to make skin smooth and vibrant. In fact, there are more six more products in this category. The function and content of Keri Nourishing Shea Butter make it unique and independent to other product, such as Original, Advanced and Moisture Rich Oil.
In addition, the advertisement makes the product and a feeling of “experience of the timeless beauty of being a woman” equal in value. Every woman wants to be beautiful and timeless. However money cannot buy you beautiful and timeless. Thus, by generating a connection between Keri’s product and feeling, it adds a value to timeless beauty, because money can buy Keri’s product. Secondly, the Keri’s lotion product exists as a commodity in the market place. The lotion has a nature priority of making skin smooth.
As Marx says the nature priority decides the use value (Marx, 1867). The use value of Keri’s product is to improve your skin quality. In Capital, Marx says the objective form of social relations is called reification (1867). As the advertising campaign says “experience the timeless beauty of being a woman with Keri Shea Butter”, the consumers will experience “timeless beauty of being a woman” if they purchase and consume the product. The human relationship of timeless beauty is expressed in a commodity form of lotion.
The abstracted social relations are taken out of their actual organic context”, abstraction separates the use value and exchange value of a commodity (Goldman, 1992, p21). In this ad, the meaning of using its product is transformed into the experience of timeless beauty. In this process, the exchange value of Keri’s product now refer to the timeless beauty. It equivalents the value of the product and the value of a history work of art of beauty female by putting the product and reproduction image together into the same frame.