Tuesday, 25 September 2012

A Special WTF for Special K

As you know, this blog is for me to rant about the burning issues of the day. Which is why this week I'm taking on the continued threat to humanity that is Special K adverts. Before you tell me that most advertising is sexist and shitty, let me explain why Special K adverts occupy a special place in the lexicon of sexist shitness.

First, Special K tastes like processed cardboard. This is not the reason I hate it. People - women - never met a bloke who ate Special K - don't eat it because of the taste. They eat it as a moral duty. To be thin, and because it's healthy. Allegedly. I'm seriously unconvinced by either of those, since a small bowlful of tasteless stuff with skimmed milk will cause any normal human being who left the house at 8am to be half-starved by 10.30. At which point somebody in the office will turn up with doughnuts, and frankly, you might as well have had a fry-up in the first place. As to the healthiness, I'm not a nutritionist, but I refer you to my previous point. None of this is why I hate Special K adverts.

No, the reason I hate Special K adverts is that they seem to personally insult me. It's like they've got a researcher following me around to criticise my attitude, dress sense, and breakfast habits.

Exhibit A: above. According to this ad, being thin (the inevitable result of eating Special K) will result in sassiness. Now, I am not thin. I have never been thin. I do, however, think I might be sassy. I have been told, from time to time, that I possess this quality. My sassiness routine is extensive: moisturising my personality, exfoliating my wit, that kind of thing. I spend at least an hour a day buffing my sassiness by doing stuff like reading books, talking to interesting people, and making up an extensive range of opinions. And now, I find I've wasted my time! All I had to do to acquire this Sassiness was to eat some processed cardboard! You can understand why it's upsetting me.

At first, I was doubtful about their claims, on the grounds that I have, many times, seen thin women who do not appear to be sassy. Or radiant. Some of these thin women looked tired, miserable and harassed. At the time I thought that might be because they had shitty jobs, crap boyfriends or couldn't pay the council tax. Or were just intrinsically thin, miserable personalities. Now I know it was because they weren't getting enough Special K.

Anyway, as if criticising my attitude wasn't enough, Special K have been round and had a go at my wardrobe. I owe a number of red items. Even a whole red dress. I've pretty much always, in my life, owned one or another red dress. People always compliment me when I wear one. Now, I realise the error of my ways: I hope they do too. Because apparently you're only allowed to dress in red when you're thin. Very thin. This is because otherwise some people might notice you while in the unseemly condition of not being thin. When you are thin, then you will be allowed to wear red. In the light of these revelations, I've written to the Special K advertsing agency, and asked if they'd buy me a burka.

Basically, what they seem to suggest with these adverts is that if you are not thin, you should be ashamed, and hide. Confidence can only stem from thiness, and denial. Feeling crap about yourselves, ladies? Here, have some tastless cereal, and then you can kid yourself you're doing something about it. But for god's sake don't ask for a payrise, go out in the street, or dress up sexy until you've hammered every last ounce of that bad fatness out of you. It's the supression of desire and its replacement with self-mortification. It's like all the shit bits of Catholicism, in one carboardy box of cardboard. Don't get me wrong, I love Catholics, specially when they're buying the drinks.

I don't love Special K. I don't love their advertising agency, Leo Burnett. I don't love Kellogg's, who I suspect have contributed considerably to the obesity of the nation by flogging salt-and-sugar-ridden cereals that don't satisfy people's hunger. But if Kellogg's want to advertise low-calorie cereal, they could simply go 'Ladies - want to lose weight - this stuff is low calorie!' They don't actually have to go round going 'Feel shit? You look shit. Hide yourself, you faaaaaaat bitch.' Which is basically the voice of an abuser, beamed into the homes of a million women, courtesy of daytime TV. Other brands manage to advertise themselves without abusiveness, don't they?

Like I said, I don't eat Special K. I like porridge for breakfast. And I know that once you get onto sexism in advertising you could be here for a long while. But I really do feel that this particular campaign is just Specially Offensive.


  1. Stop whining, get out your video camera, make some sexy porridge ads starring your big beautiful self in a sassy red dress, and upload to Youtube. I WANT MORE SEXY BIG GIRLS IN ADVERTISING PLEASE!!! --Signed, Starved for Eye Candy

  2. Haha! Any porridge manufacturers out there want to give me a production budget for this epic?

  3. I have the opposite problem - I think Special K is delicious but I feel too embarrassed to buy it because of these stupid ad campaigns.

    I am more boggled by the ENDLESS AMOUNTS OF YOGHURT that ad agencies seem to think women eat.

  4. I'm so with you on this - they are helping to propagate this ridiculous notion of "non-thin" = "insecure, unhappy, ugly and unable to wear vibrant colours". The worst part about it, in my opinion, is that there are people who not only believe this nonsense, but buy into it hook, line and sinker. Amusingly, the inside of a special K pack has a diet plan, which if you followed in the absence of eating their cereal would lead you to the weight-loss you so desperately desire. Unfortunately, there is no recipe on how to become intelligent enough to realise that being thin won't make you more confident OR look better in vibrant colours. In fact, anyone who bases their self-esteem on how they look is clearly fighting massive insecurities. Why not try and be a better person?? :D Viva le shapely girls :)