This 2011 ad is for men’s clothing at mega-retailer JC Penney. It uses a split screen to run a decades-old scene from the film Fast Times at Ridgemont High alongside images of men in JC Penney’s clothing. As 18-year old actress Phoebe Cates emerges from a pool, soaking wet in a red bikini in an iconic scene from the film, the ad’s spokesperson — 54-year-old ESPN reporter Kenny Mayne — empathizes: “JC Penney understands that you don’t like advertising for clothes,” and bargains with the audience, “but if you look at these smart fashion choices from Van Heusen, we’re gonna show you this. That way everybody wins.”
Note: At the time of this ad’s release, JC Penney was already embroiled in some controversy over the “I’m too pretty to do my homework” T-shirt.
What does the ad claim with the tagline: “everybody wins”?
Aside from trying to sell the audience on JC Penny clothing, what does this ad tell us about men and women? What assumptions does it make with respect to gender?
Using a barely-dressed female body to sell something entirely unrelated to that body is nothing new. The ad may be intentionally and comically playing on this convention by being up front about the manipulative intent of this practice. Do you think this self-referential approach alters the impact of its message in any way? Why or why not?