April 1997
s m u g
target audience
by Leslie Harpold

Acquisition Theory

Have everything? Once you have the car, the house, the purebred dog, the summer home, the boat and the timeshare in Breckenridge, but you still can't shake that feeling of not having it all, you might want to consider reproduction as a means to finally achieving the status you crave. If you're still in your fertile years, then a kidlet could be the icing on the cake for you.
Joop! Jeans
That seems to be what Joop! was going for here, in their A Child Is the ultimate pet ad, and this ad, the first time I saw it was vaguely unsettling, but I didn't know why. After careful consideration, I have decided that the eighties are not and have never been really over, but the current look and feel of America has merely driven it underground. Joop! at least brings it, without apology, back to the surface. Here we see a lady - too far away from the camera to really attach an age to officially, but I'm guessing mid thirties by the general appearance, and the outfit, in a lovely demure silk blouse, and of course, her Joop! jeans. She has a little one flying though the air as she is apparently overtaken with joy and rapture at having this little token of her good taste to lug her around.

Now, I'm single and childless, and I still see some humor in referencing ankle biters as monkeys, various insects, and of course, puppies and kittens. However, the reference taken to it's visual conclusion seems to speak not to me, but to people a few years older than me, and with a lot more money. Reganomics gave us the Yuppie in all it's many forms, but today's super successful in order to remain socially acceptable must at least pretend to care, to have some sort of inner spirit of whimsy to guide them through.

If you've seen the latest Eddie Bauer shopping bags, you know what I'm talking about. They artfully insist that you should "Never confuse having a career with having a Life" which to me makes for the perfect metaphor for the 90s attitude. Money is good, but please don't mention that you like it to others. We are supposed to talk about it as a tool of empowerment, not as a means to an end. This philosophical treatise brought to you lovingly by someone who wants to sell you something. Gross excess is no longer acceptable in it's shiny ostentatious forms as it was 10 years ago, now, it must be shrouded in earth tones and wrapped in ecologically sound paper with soy-based inks. Sport Utility vehicles starting at around 34 thousand dollars are the ultimate statement of back to basics wealth. It clearly says "I have a lot of money to spend, yet I am still a regular guy." Regular people drive Civics and Saturns folks, because that's what they can afford.

So the jeans. What do jeans and having an infant for a pet have to do with one another? Remember this: Advertising culture is evanescent. It comes and goes. The statements do not need to necessarily reflect the politically correct cultural vibe if they accurately represent a subconscious feeling that consumers are experiencing.

Joop! jeans are European, they can make fun of Americans quietly without us getting mad as long as it's about fashion and not rock and roll or politics. I wish I believed they were making fun of us and their target audience's fashion sense here, but I have a feeling that this is no joke. I really believe that the goal of this ad is to reinforce the feeling of success the buyer of Joop! jeans is supposed to have for racking up all those billable hours at the law firm, or the brokerage, and finding the perfect mate and combining the perfect gene pools (get it - jean pools) to form the perfect beast. Not because they have the love and attention to give to a child, but simply because they can afford it.

I'm also sad that this ad campaign was probably successful in selling a lot of blue jeans to the Gucci loafer set. I picture Derek and Tracy out with little Justin in their Joop! jeans at the park, scoffing at the nannies on a Saturday afternoon (they know they are good parents because they give the nanny weekends off and actually change the kids diapers themselves) and running into their best friends Shannon and Kevin, also with their offspring little Samantha in tow. They compare notes about who's kid is smarter, chuckling to themselves that theirs is likely the smartest, after all, Samantha was trying to eat a twig, and head to town to get some mescalun greens and pesto for dinner.

They go to sleep each night secure in the knowledge that they have it all, and have the legacy to prove it. That's who this ad is for, or at least that's my best guess, because I know that it's not aimed at me. All I can think of when I think about having a kid is just how expensive it would be and the huge responsibility that would fall on my head for making sure it grew up okay.


back to the junk drawer

and such
and such

Joop! Jeans


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