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WTF Is Going On In These DirecTV Ads Starring Swimsuit Models?

There are clever ways of using sexy women to sell products and services. This ad campaign isn't one of them.

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A new advertising campaign for DirectTV featuring swimsuit models is making waves for its depiction of what the models look like with and without DirecTV service.

DirecTV

The campaign by Grey Group stars models Chrissy Teigen, Nina Agdel, and Hannah Davis in cautionary tales against purchasing regular cable over DirecTV. Following in the theme of a series of ads starring Rob Lowe, the first part of each ad depicts the women as their swimsuit model selves on beautiful beaches while the second half features the fates that the women would endure if they bought cable instead. In the ad above, Chrissy's alter ego loads a dishwasher in a dingy kitchen, looking pained at performing domestic labor in a pair of "mom jeans."

DirecTV subscribers, it appears, have sufficient savvy to spend their days on luxurious tropical vacations.

DirecTV

It is not clear from the ads where the models plan to plug in their entertainment devices since they all appear outdoors. And even if they managed to find a plug, there do not appear to be any shady refuges from the sun's glare on the television screen, which would be super annoying.

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Cable subscribers, by contrast, time travel to the early 1990s and hoard cats.

DirecTV

Hannah Davis' alter ego is the familiar cat lady lunatic. This cable-watching woman keeps a litter box directly in front of her couch and dines on whole raw fish at her wicker coffee table, as is her custom. But she is at least in a living room of some kind where she could ostensibly be watching TV in comfort.

The standard critiques that using beautiful young women in bikinis to sell products is a lazy and tired tactic certainly apply to this campaign.

DirecTV

The idea that being a tall, thin, young, white woman that men want to ogle is the most ideal form of womanhood is not a new one. But the ads take this concept a step further by not only showing consumers what they should aspire to but also the variations on womanhood that they must avoid. The chosen stereotypes to mock devalue women's work and their personal choices and clearly "punch down."

Nina Agdal's "lunch lady" is not just an example of a difficult job, it is an example of a job that is distinctly female, working class, and generally associated with older women.

DirecTV

Similarly, the mother performing domestic labor in Teigen's ad is derisive of either the choice or obligation to work within the home, and the "cat lady" in Hannah Davis' ad is well-known shorthand for being romantically unattached. It is one thing to showcase an ideal body, age, and lifestyle as aspirational, it is adding insult to injury to deride the distinctly low-income and feminine alternatives.

And even in their "ideal" versions, the women featured are not enjoying entertainment. They are serving as the entertainment.

DirectTV

Because honestly, what woman on Earth chooses to watch TV with a blowout and her ass in the air?

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