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By Anna

I smell like an Old Spice man this morning. Taking a swan dive into my brother’s shower at my parent’s house I found myself in a pickle of having no soap—the only option: Old Spice 8-hour remedy. I imagine if I was sweating I would smell like a lot of the men I’ve been watching acquire grass stains and road rash on TV, though maybe real men don’t use Old Spice at all—it’s the high schooler’s choice.

Though I’m not a fan of Old Spice its new campaign is effective: a muscular man with a deep voice doing “manly” things and speaking quickly. It reminds me of Amelia Bedelia or The Berenstain Bears where there is a series of events Amelia must do or the bears must conquer to teach a lesson. The Berenstain Bears bike lesson: He’s on a bike and must take the puddles and obstacles of cycling like a man (or a bear).

According to Dr. George Johnson (professor of biology at Washington University) humans learn best by simple repetition.

The Old Spice commercials give us repetition in content: the man uses the same tone of voice, the same speed and the same articulation from commercial to commercial. Just as the Berenstain Bear books used the same length of sentence to portray a series of events.

Whether we’re young or old we learn the same way and the media knows this: commercials are often placed at the same time between shows, the World Cup occurs every four years at the same time, Le Tour de France happens every year at the same time, and the storyline of your favorite drama unfolds in the same way every time (which you note because it seems as though House has diagnosed the patient correctly, but there is still 20 minutes left).

No harm comes from learning this way, but harm may come if the only repetition and serial information you take in is on this screen (or another). Old Spice’s quirkiness is effective and six hours later I still smell like a man.

By Nicolle

I turned on the TV on Saturday to watch Northern Illinois beat Kansas (and ruin my bracket), and one of the most well-known cosmetic ad campaigns appeared. Eva Longoria floated across the screen telling viewers how great her L’Oreal hair color was (even though I’m fairly certain a star as big as Eva would never trust a box color to intensify her dark locks). She finished her seductive monologue with L’Oreal’s famous catch phrase: “Because you’re worth it.”

That’s what our generation has been inundated with: Worthiness. We’re worth that brand-new car, the expensive overseas vacation, that couture dress, those season tickets to Target Field. And we’re worth it even if we can’t really afford it.

I’m not saying any one of those desires is bad, or that no one should ever travel outside their home country or experience baseball outdoors. But what can be extremely detrimental is when our personal L’Oreal attitude carries over into our relationships.

A friend of mine dated a guy who her friends deemed “not good enough for her.” They said he wasn’t as smart as her, he wasn’t as attractive as her and he didn’t have as much ambition in his career as she did. So she broke up with him to look for someone better.

She’s still looking.

Another friend of mine dated a girl who was crazy about him. He wasn’t sure about the relationship, and thought he deserved someone who wasn’t so worried about his whereabouts and for whom he had equally intense feelings. He broke up with her, only to discover a few months later that she was the person who’d been keeping him sane and out of trouble. When he tried to explain that to her, she wouldn’t take him back.

He’s still looking.

Ad campaigns like L’Oreal’s have given us a distorted sense of self and relationships. If we think we’re worth everything, then we’re not willing to take a chance on anything. If something is not quite good enough, we convince ourselves that there’s got to be something better – and if we don’t hold out for that “something better” we’re not doing justice to our worth.

When we cling to that mindset unknowingly, we end up with a “why suffer?” mentality. If we’re not completely satisfied with what our relationship is providing us, or things get rough for a period of time, or someone questions us, we bail. We tell ourselves that we don’t deserve to suffer; we’re worth more than the pain this person or relationship is inflicting on us.

But we’re wrong.

Does anybody deserve love? The simple answer is no. No one really does because no one is perfect. What’s so great about life and people is that we can choose to overlook those imperfections and to love individuals despite their unworthiness.

But, to accomplish such a daunting task, we have to realize that we’re in the same undeserving place as everyone else. Once we put ourselves on that level, we’re more capable of empathizing with people, of seeing our brokenness in them and expressing our love in unexpected ways.

Our sense of entitlement has to be curbed in order to have relationships that really matter, relationships that can impact and change us. Without those kinds of relationships, we’d all be hermits, further indoctrinating ourselves with undue worthiness. No one would ever be good enough.

I don’t ever want to hear that I’m not good enough. I’d much prefer to hear that I’m worth it. But if I can’t look past what I “deserve” and take a risk on a relationship that might cause me some pain, I can’t ask anyone else to do the same for me – no matter what L’Oreal says.

By Ryan

I hate advertising that directly attacks the competition.  Subway’s ads are notorious for taking on McDonald’s, which seems extremely silly, because Subway’s main contention is that their food is healthier, a fact that almost everyone already knows and agrees upon, but still chooses to eat McDonald’s over Subway’s anyway.  To me, it’s a huge imaging mistake for Subway to acknowledge McDonald’s, because to do so is to remind everyone that McDonald’s kills Subway in sales and does so without acknowledging that their competition even exists.  Judging by their ads, McDonald’s is all the Subway folks think about.

Of course, if McDonald’s were to suddenly start making public claims refuting Subway’s attack ads, it would seem petty and childish.  Even though Subway drags their image through the mud, McDonald’s would only do it worse by acting publicly offended by that lardass Jared.  This is a lesson that AT&T hasn’t learned.

If you haven’t heard, AT&T is suing Verizon over ads that the latter ran comparing the 3G networks of both carriers.  The ads point out that Verizon has five times more 3G coverage in the continental United States than does AT&T, a company that dominates the smartphone market on the basis of its iPhone-exclusivity contract.  AT&T claims that the ads are misleading, because they say that viewers may think that the white areas on the AT&T map have no coverage, when in fact most of it is covered by the 2G (“Edge”) network.  This might make sense if not for the fact that the ads are explicitly about 3G coverage.

The bigger problem here is that AT&T has a notoriously bad 3G network that is too small in coverage and often overcrowded in areas where there is coverage.  And instead of devoting energy to improving their coverage (the best option), or responding to the ads by claiming they are continually improving coverage and leave it at that (second-best option), they draw attention to their horseshit network by making a national story out of a petty lawsuit (the second-worst option, the worst being hiring a guy because he used to be fat and never second-guessing that logic).

Most people don’t pay attention to television commercials, but many people do pay attention to news stories involving two of the biggest telecommunications companies in the country.  Doesn’t anyone at AT&T realize this?  Take a page from the McDonald’s playbook next time: take the high road by ignoring the petty attack ads, and instead get revenge by dominating in sales.  Or do it your way: make a little problem a big problem, and deflate your own branding and image in the process.  Grow up, AT&T.