Historical Analysis: Naya Plays a Kardashian

The candy company M&M’s is known for its funny commercials that bring M&Ms to life.  In this particular M&M’s commercial, which was shown during the Super Bowl in 2013, a red M&M is personified and turned into a boyfriend character played opposite of Naya Rivera.  This M&M’s commercial is funny because it mirrors a modern lifestyle and story line, while critiquing it as well.

            The most important aspect of this advertisement that works within the modern time today is the lifestyle Naya is portraying.  As summarized in our textbook Social Communication in Advertising, lifestyle according to Anthony Giddens is “the central means by which individuals now seek to find meaning, identity and stability” (Leiss, Kline, Jhally, Botterill 266).  In the age of celebrity culture, young adults are very consumed with the idea of a glamorous lifestyle that dictates to them how to live.  Naya seems to take on a similar role to the Kardashians on their show Keeping Up With The Kardashians. The lifestyle of the characters include shopping at designer stores, jet setting to exotic places, and having leisure time to enjoy your fabulous home.  The candy commercial and KUWTK both encompass the same idea of consumption and idle time.

            On one hand, this commercial fits the modern times by reflecting the glamorous lifestyle that is seen all over in the media today. On the other hand, there is a sense of sarcasm to the commercial that comes from more than just the personified M&M. To put it lightly, Naya’s character is somewhat laughable in this commercial.  She’s the ditsy young adult who has too much time on her hands and fills it with menial tasks like fixing her boyfriend’s hair in the mirror. We look at her life in the commercial and admire some aspects, but her character is definitely not someone we take as having a lot of substance.

            Additionally, M&M’s uses the song “I’d Do Anything for Love” by Meat Loaf. Although it may have had some deep meaning when it came out in the early 90’s, not many young people today take it for more than a funny little song that they’ve heard before.  This adds to the lightness of the commercial, sayings remember, this is just for entertainment. The people responsible for attaching this message are the cultural intermediaries, who are the advertisers in this case. As the book states, cultural intermediaries are people who are in charge of communicating meaning about a good to consumers (47).  Featuring this song helps advertisers communicate that the brand M&M’s keep up with popular culture, but also doesn’t take it too seriously.

            This commercial fits the times by introducing a story line that we are entertained by, but also recognize as fluff. It shows a modern lifestyle that, to some extent, we all want to achieve.  Nonetheless it also recognizes the critiques of this lifestyle that modern society has.  We’re not taking Naya’s lifestyle as the rich oblivious girlfriend too seriously; in fact we’re sort of laughing at it.

-Courtney

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