Sep1420095:21 pm

Odd bits of advertising

I’ve passed this billboard at the corner of New York and 7th, NW, in Washington many times over the past month, always intending to take a picture of it (I finally had a good camera with me a few days ago) and always puzzled by its intended message:

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What exactly are they trying to say here?  My guesses:

—”At the FBI, we’ll help you make that final transition from unsightly native garb to smartly tailored business suit”; or

—”At the FBI, we’re so culturally advanced that we have Ethnic Dress Fridays”; or —and I really hope it’s this one—

—”At the FBI, we want you as an undercover operative who frequently changes disguises, like Fletch.”

I suppose they’re trying to make the point that the FBI is a culturally diverse place to work and that no matter where you’re from (or where your parents are from?), we’re all on the same team, working for the same goal. Fine, I guess. But this ad doesn’t succeed in taking us directly to that point, if that is indeed actually the point. Not only is the text clunky (my girlfriend called it “hideous—can the FBI not afford editors?”), but the duel images of young, attractive, indeterminately South Asian-looking woman in suit and head scarf raise more questions than they answer. Why is she wearing both kinds of clothes? Is she meant to be American, getting in touch with her roots? Is she meant to be foreign, now Westernized by the FBI? Are these actually two people, identical mirror twins like the evil Crimson Guard Commanders, Tomax and Xamot? And as a broader point, should it even matter what style of clothes someone is wearing while working for the FBI, or any other agency or organization for that matter? The FBI ad department could use a few tips from Don Draper and Co.

Now to a less confusing and much funnier ad that I actually saw broadcast during a football game this past weekend. A beautiful riff on the celebrities-with-fists-clenched-for-a-cause sing-alongs of old. For the people, USA.GOV!

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2 Responses to “Odd bits of advertising”

  1. Michelle says:

    Great posts as always, and love the Mad Men mention!

  2. Mark Overmann Mark Overmann says:

    Thanks for reading, Michelle! I wish I could have a nine-martini lunch with Don and Roger Sterling some day….

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