Sunday, June 29, 2014

This post is rated 'R'

I didn’t expect to blush inside a pharmacy. But when I turned around in the pharmacia on the first day we were in Italy, my eye caught a small ad with a lot of skin. I don’t know what the ad was selling – maybe body lotion? But it showed a naked woman in profile.  And she didn’t even have any strategically placed arms or hands. Just nude.

I mentioned it later to Elizabeth, and I don’t think she believed me. Then we saw a different ad with an equally clothes-less woman lying down.  I suggested Elizabeth take the picture of it because I figured it might be kinda pervy if I did. 

Imagine this nearly life-size: That's how we saw it while walking down the street.

I suppose Italians are used to all this nakedness. After all, some of their most priceless and famous pieces of art feature the human body with barely a stitch of clothing: Michelangelo’s “David,” the Venus, generally any statue of a woman from the Renaissance -- at least from the waist up—and roughly half of the statues of Zeus.  Italians now even make calendars celebrating some of that historic “junk.”

A calendar for sale on the streets of Florence.

So why shouldn’t the same approach work for advertisements for soap or body lotion or razors or whatever these ads are selling?

Or clothes.
A shop display in the Venice train station. 

Or sunglasses.
An advertisement in the Trieste train station.

That kind of approach won’t fly in the United States. Kraft took flak for its similar ad for Zesty Italian dressing in 2013.

Elizabeth noticed some other differences between Italian culture and the more prudish, Puritan-influenced United States:  Condom and prophylactic vending machines on the streets, for instance.

There were two of these machines down a mile stretch in Mestre. This is probably because there is very little to do in Mestre. 
It’s just hard to imagine any of this in America. Even that infamous wardrobe malfunction in the Super Bowl left more covered than this “i.”

After I had written all of this, and we thought it would be impossible to be surprised by any more ads, Elizabeth stopped to check our tickets at the airport in Rome in front of this ad. We just had to add it, too.

No comments:

Post a Comment