Monday, May 30, 2005

It's Akademik

Some of you may remember hip-hop clothiers Akedemiks' saucy ad campaign from this past holiday season. For those of you who don't, here's a little refresher:

study hard!

Read books, get sex: That's what racy advertisements on hundreds of city buses are suggesting to teens - and red-faced transit bosses are outraged.

The salacious ads by hip-hop clothing line Akademiks declare: "Read Books, Get Brain."

But kids say "get brain" does not mean smarts. It's slang for oral sex. And the company behind the ads told the Daily News the slogan choice was no mistake.

"We knew this," fessed up Anthony Harrison, Akademiks' ad designer. "It's coded language, city slang. Teens know what it means but the general public doesn't."

The above comes from a November article in the NY Daily News. We really liked this ad campaign, especially since it used slang within a slogan (Note to P.H.: that's an example of ingenuity). It also illustrates the magnetic dynamism of slang that we were talking about in our catchphrase post from yesterday. Plus, it had lots of books; we like those (and think their use here is much more interesting than their one-trick appearance in the ads for Pamela Anderson's Stacked. Like, omigod -- someone with blonde hair and boobs reads books -- what a concept!!!)

Anyway, we just came across Akedemics' new ad campaign, and we love this one too! The new ads feature a multiple choice "quiz" -- an "Akademiks Aptitude Test" -- to test your "jeanius." The idea is to match a word to what you see -- pictures of really cool looking peopple in really cool looking clothes.

Well, that's what we see at least. But what are the chances everyone sees the same thing?

Akademiks' new ads, like their old ones, play with multiple-meanings, and are effective this time because they explore the slippery semiotics of appearance. What makes them particularly potent is their exposure of the prejudices potentially/certainly embedded within these codes.

One ad features a picture of a tall and lean black man wearing a hoodie and a defiant stare. One hand is in his pockets and the other holds a duffle bag. The copy asks: Terrorist? Patriot? Activist? Scapegoat? Civilian?

an Akedemiks' ad from the May issue of Essence

At the bottom of the page, in tiny upside down letters, it says : "A: Labels are for clothes, not for people." The ad essentially works by asking the viewer to recognize other people's labels (and prejudices), and then asks them to confront their own. It also works because it offers up some unexpected labels. And there is no denying that these labels also force one to reconsider the way race affects society's perception of how and when these labels are assigned.

But it has also been awhile since we saw the word "FEMINISTS" -- in big bold letters -- inside a women's magazine. So we were really happy when we came across the above panel in the latest issue of Essence. Despite realizing that the whole point of the ad is that labels are not for people, we still really like that that this "label" is there. In fact, all the panels have words that we both love and hate -- and that's really interesting. In fact, we really did learn something from taking this "quiz": we became more aware of how these labels work, both for good and for bad.

And oh yeah, we like the clothes too!!!


Anonymous said...

you are posting some excellent things lady and gentleman. i am in awe and appreciation!

by the way: do you subscribe to any magazines, and by the way, what is your address? These are for secret reasons that I must know and please do not to try to pry on me or I will get crazy on you.

love, Elka

Elka said...

oh, and also, I find nothing wrong with promoting literacy through the perhaps promise of oral sex. Shit, kids, just use a dental dam!

akademiks said...

This is an awesome post! that's very intersting huh? it make a lot of sense anyways..keep it up!!godbless!!