Photo from Conrad Hotels & Resorts
Let me describe the image of a recent Conrad Hotels print ad campaign I came across in The Atlantic: Two stocky, grey-haired, and shabbily dressed Asian ladies chopping a pile of fish in what looks to be a murky Hong Kong street market, while standing next to them are two young Caucasian models -- bowls of noodles in hand -- who looked inexplicably pleased ... with themselves. The copy reads: “The Luxury of Being Yourself.”
What exactly does this ad tell me about luxury? As far as I can tell, it's that well-dressed white people can instantly grasp that elusive "luxury" when placed in an environment that makes their physical features and designer clothes stand out. And what kind of "Being Yourself" activity is portrayed? Noodle eating, in a rather blasé manner? Somehow, that seems to be the last thing these models would ever do. Somewhat ironically, the copy seems better applied to the elder Asian ladies because they are made to look like chopping is all they ever do.
A little further digging found that Conrad Hotel was so proud of this ad campaign, they even sent out a self-congratulatory press release about it. Here's a quote from the official Conrad Hotels PR on the ad (the above version shows one less fish-chopping Asian lady than the version I saw in The Atlantic):
"Conrad enlisted famed fashion photographer Anders Overgaard … [who] used his unique voice to showcase the beauty, local culture and sophistication that Conrad Hotels & Resorts offers to travelers around the globe."
I would love to hear from anyone at Conrad, Y&R or Edelman (Conrad's PR agency), to explain to me how this noodle shop image conveys anything the hotel offers their clientele (other than abject flattery, and an assurance that they are still far superior to those Orientals).
But that's just my take on this ad. What do fellow Hyphen readers think?