Why get a band to advertise your music festival, when you can get models? After all, nothing says “come to this music festival, where you will enjoy some great Irish bands and spend the weekend in wellies drinking warm beer out of plastic cups” than two mannequin-esque women (straight outta a Robert Palmer video), all dressed up to the nines and pretending to play guitar.
No, that isn’t the best way to advertise your festival, Castlepalooza organisers. It just looks stupid, and sexist. After all, sure women can’t play guitar, right? They only pretend to. They have more pressing things to be worried about – like fashion, make-up, high heels and boys. Squee!
But I don’t think this is the image that you were trying to get across, (at least, I would sincerly hope not!) and I honestly don’t lay all the blame for this picture on you. In fact, I actually understand why you had to do this. Because, sadly, it appears that in order to get any press launch into the paper these days, you have to feature a half-dressed model in the photo. Or at least, that’s what it seems like to me – as every time I open certain newspapers I see photo after photo of press-calls featuring models. Apparently, nothing appeals to readers more than a mute, tanned, leggy blonde (or occasionally, brunette). Have a charity event to plug? Get a model in – plonk her (in as little clothes as possible) on a bench in Stephen’s Green, stand her next to the suited-up MD of the company, airbrush out her goosepimples and Bob’s your uncle. One photo I saw recently had a model in a bikini painted to look like a tiger, reclining on a chaise longue – to advertise a nightclub venue event with some sort of an ‘exotic’ theme. Wow, how radical, how now, how brave. How utterly ridiculous.
My own sister has had to model at events like these and fondly refers to them as the ‘cheesy photoshoots’. She’s had to pose with penguins, against trees, with rugby stars and in nightclubs, all in the name of promoting some thing or other. That’s part of her job. And models will always be required to help promote one thing or another – (I’ll save my thoughts on the modelling industry for another day) and I’m not calling for an end to using models in adverts. I understand that it appeals to some people. Not me, but some people. But it has reached the point where, rather than come up with an exciting or innovative way of promoting a product at a press call, companies rely on models to do all the work.
Do they realise that readers are not all male; or all attracted to women; or actually give two flying fecks about a company that feels the need to use models to advertise the launch of their new mobile internet dongle or packet of crisps? Surely it’s pure laziness to just hire some models to pose in bikinis on Grafton St next to a suit-wearing man in order to promote your new back-scratching service?
But back to Castlepalooza. This is a ’boutique’ music festival, featuring a great range of bands – Mercury Rev, Robotnik, Fionn Regan, The Cast of Cheers, and O Emperor are among them – as well as workshops, a day spa, magicians, ethical fashion, a new platform for emerging talent, and a lot more. There is so much there that could be promoted at a press call, so much that would catch the eye of a newspaper reader and get them to visit the website, so much that could be exploited to get the word out about the event. It saddens me to think that in this day and age, the only way to promote something in (most) newspapers in Ireland is to take the lazy option and hire a pretty woman to do all the work. Especially when it comes to music.
Let’s get away from the women-don’t-play-guitar bullshit and reinforcing of tired stereotypes, and do something clever that shows exactly what your product or service or festival is about. It’s what readers want. And, I’m sure, it’s exactly what people going to Castlepalooza would want.
Robert Palmer can keep the guitar-toting mannequins for himself.