It’s a beautiful day on the playground. The grass is perfectly green and uniform, without a weed or dandelion in sight. A vibrant, attractive young woman kneels at the base of the sliding board. Even there the grass grows lush. She spreads her arms wide and giggles as she prepares to catch her beautiful, brown…cello.
The headline: This is my baby right now.
Subheadline: Focus on your plans. Prevent pregnancy for up to three years without a daily pill.
It’s an ad for an intrauterine device (IUD) — a little plastic widget that triggers a thickening of mucus at the cervix to block the ingress of sperm, and irritates the uterine wall to prevent a fertilized egg from attaching, thus preventing or ending a pregnancy.
But that’s not what they’re really selling here. This image (below) is one of the more effective I’ve seen to convey the Leftist worldview.
Let’s set aside, for the moment, the arguments about when life starts, or even what an IUD actually does to a woman and her conceptus. Let’s even ignore the fact that the woman in the ad doesn’t appear to wear a wedding ring. What’s the message of this advertisement, and why do I make such a sweeping claim for its representative power?
Students of advertising know that the creator of the ad must answer one question with an arresting combination of text and graphics. That question: What’s in it for me?
(In the case of an IUD, one might also answer “What’s it in me for?” But that’s a topic for another day.)
Advertising craftsmen seek to understand human nature in a way that allows them to connect with our deepest urges. The cynic might say that they’re appealing to our sinful nature, our base yearnings and our prurient interests, but that’s not always the case. Nevertheless, they do make their appeal to something primal within us.
In the case of an IUD ad pitch, there’s a primordial soup and salad bar of “what’s in it for me?” answers.
1) Obviously, the product is meant to promote sexual relations with fewer potential complications. So, there’s the hope of spontaneous, unmitigated pleasure — although apparently there’s a four percent chance of pregnancy, and IUDs can’t stop STDs.
2) The urge to live free of obligations (like two decades of onerous child-rearing) ranks high, as does…
3) our proclivity to expend minimal effort to achieve maximal results. (You won’t even have the strain of lifting a daily pill to your lips.)
But it’s the cello which carries the emotional freight of the ad. Clearly the IUD manufacturer isn’t targeting cello players, or even stringed-instrument aficionados — though I’m sure the ad will resonate especially well with them.
No, the cello is an emblem — a picture of something intangible. In this case, it’s actually a substitute for all of the deep emotions that come with motherhood, from immersive self-abnegating love to the fear of self-abnegation itself. In fact, it’s quite likely that the graphic artist used a normal playground picture, cropped out that lady’s actual toddler, and overlaid the cello. Just look at her face. That kind of maternal joy is tough to fake. (Plus, no one would ever want to endanger such a delicate instrument that way.)