SYMS and Big Love?
February 7, 2009, 6:53 pm
Filed under: Advertisements | Tags: ,

I can’t find a photo of this Billboard I caught a glance of, but it’s near Hoboken on the way to NYC. It read:

I said suits, she said Syms

I wasn’t sure why this billboard made me shake my head on my Greyhound home tonight, but then I tried swapping the roles, and I figured it out.
It wouldn’t sound right if it had a woman saying, even “I said shoes, he said syms”
because men aren’t expected to know where to find shoes! But yet, women always know where the best buys are, even for clothes they don’t typically wear, right? And meanwhile, it sounds wrong swapped because men aren’t really…trained to respond when their spouse gives a one word demand. When the roles are switched, this ad goes against prescribed gender norms – and that made it clear to me why I was so bothered by it. Because as is, it fits right in.

And then, on my walk from the Port Authority to the shuttle back to Grand Central (which is like a mile underground! I was walking forever!), there were a few ads to keep me busy. I especially liked a string of ads on the wall for Big Love. They read “everyone has something to hide,” and all just had photos of people walking in the city, with headphone icons above their head that said “Listen.” At first, I didn’t get it. That was before I noticed the headphone jacks on the sides of the peoples’ heads. DUH. I thought it was just trying to get me to think that these people had secrets, with some badly directed copy. My bad. I didn’t have any headphones, but I assume that if you plugged in, you’d hear some normal looking people saying some wacky secrets. They went on long enough (like I said, a VERY LONG transfer, turns out there were 42 posters side by side) for me to fully get the gist before they were even half done).

Even though the art direction was pretty severely subpar, these ads were kind of genius. At first I was convinced nobody would stop to listen to these secrets, in the middle of a subway transfer, are you kidding? Nobody gives a crap! But I used to be into Big Love, and I think I would’ve, if had any headphones (I wasn’t in a big hurry). And that mistake is mine;  everyone in the subway has headphones except me (I prefer being a conscious person, but that’s just me). But yeah, I didn’t happen to be in a rush, and who am I to judge how many other people were? And just as I was pondering this point, I passed a couple who were each listening to these transit ads! So they must generate some interest. And the connection was clear, as a former watcher of the show – The family is trying to “pass” as normal, when in reality they’re polygamists! So who knows how many secrets all the normal people we see have? Probly a ton. I wonder what the ads said. Who knew that to be an ad critique requires headphones these days. I guess I should’ve.


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