Double Exposure (2)

By: Joshua Glenn
April 13, 2009

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Speaking of brows. You know Cadbury’s 2009 viral ad, “Eyebrows”? The one in which two children — peculiarly self-composed, knowing, mysterious, alien-like children — wiggle their eyebrows to the beat of Freestyle Express’s “Don’t Stop The Rock”? It was viewed 4 million times on YouTube in its first three weeks, so chances are that you do know it. Well… check this out:

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From April 2009 issue of Travel & Leisure Magazine

The pinched noses and flaring nostrils, the slightly fascistic hairstyles, the pursed lips and superioristic gazes, the transparent glasses, the buttoned-upness… all the same! Even the chins! Not to mention the expressive eyebrows. The Dolce & Gabbana models are… adult versions of the Cadbury kids. Or rather, they’re the Cadbury kids grown up. Or rather… the Cadbury kids are adult children, and the D&G models are child-adults. Or… no, the mind reels. What’s going on?

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Are they aliens? (This might explain the magical eyebrows, and also the not-lovers but more-than-siblings vibe.) Has Madison Ave. discovered time travel? More importantly: What signs and signifiers have been put into play, in these ads, and to what ends?

We demand answers.

This is the second in a series of posts reviving the ancient practice of extispicy — i.e., divining the outlines of our invisible prison (formerly known as Fate) via a close study of anomalies in animal entrails. Only instead of sheep livers and cow lungs, we’re using magazine ads and other middlebrow media images.

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MORE SEMIOSIS at HILOBROW: Towards a Cultural Codex | CODE-X series | DOUBLE EXPOSURE Series | CECI EST UNE PIPE series | Star Wars Semiotics | Icon Game | Meet the Semionauts | Show Me the Molecule | Science Fantasy | Inscribed Upon the Body | The Abductive Method | Enter the Samurai | Semionauts at Work | Roland Barthes | Gilles Deleuze | Félix Guattari | Jacques Lacan | Mikhail Bakhtin | Umberto Eco

What do you think?

  1. More like a glass and a half *empty* of joy.

    It’s an irruption of the uncanny! But it’s everywhere in advertising, isn’t it?

  2. and I particularly like the tags: advertising, aliens, brands, semiotics. would I like their planet? would they set it up so that I could not BUT like it??

  3. Would you like their planet? All depends on what style of glasses you’re wearing when you arrive.

  4. I think they are raising eyebrows at the seeming impossibility of such virally successful ads such as this (and Gorilla) not translating into improving sales or market share versus Galaxy. It is the clients view of the mutated consumer, bullying the poor manufacturer with increasingly bizarre demands that can only be satiated by resorting to witchcraft.

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