| Singing belly buttons sure are disturbing, but there's a truly horrifying niche we didn't want to know about, revealed by a Diet Coke ad.
The ad is part of Diet Coke's new "That Certain Something" (whatever that means) campaign. Narrated by an unseen Ben Affleck, the ad shows a faceless guy folding women's white underwear with little yellow flowers. As Mazzi Star sings "Fade Into You," the voiceover explains, "When we first got married, she'd wear really sexy underwear, like you see in underwear ads." We see his blond wife in flashbacks, frolicking in black sexy undies. Cut to today, and the wife looks the same, but she's wearing a baggy pajama top. "After a while," the husband continues, "she started wearing the kind of underwear that I saw in the hamper when I was a kid." Shots of him handling the underwear. "There's something oddly reassuring about thin, washed-out, cotton underwear, with little yellow flowers." Diet Coke cans become visible, and we see the blond wife and the tag line: "That Certain Something."
On first glance, this ad seems say that once women "land" their men, they don't care about being attractive anymore. But there's a twist. It's also saying, to its female target audience, that men are actually okay with this assumed-to-be-truism, and find it kind of reassuring---it means the relationship is comfy and nice and everlasting, even if all the excitement (which, of course, it's up to the woman to provide) has gone out of it.
Ridiculous and sexist? Of course. It's a commercial. And sure, it's repulsive that we're told the undies are "thin" and "washed out," as if they are old, stained, and about to fall apart. But what makes this ad truly horrifying is the following phrase: "...the kind of underwear that I saw in the hamper when I was a kid."
People, whose underwear could this guy have seen in the hamper when he was a kid?
That's right. His mother's.
This isn't a local muffler shop. This is Coke! They spend millions doing market research! No one thought this was strange? How did this guy know that his Mom's undies were "thin and washed out" if he wasn't also handling them? Couldn't the point about the comfort of an established relationship have been made without the Mom reference? Is Diet Coke's target market (women) supposed to feel comforted by the fact that the underwear they feel comfortable wearing makes their husbands think of Mom? And all of this is to sell diet soda, which is marketed to women by making them feel bad about their bodies in the first place.
Thanks, Coke. Now we look back fondly on the days when we didn't know the "Guys who get turned on when their wives wear their mom's underwear, and the women who love them" niche existed.