Wow. People are talking about a recent ad campaign.
Billboard ads for Snore Stop, (a “stop snoring” nasal spray,) depicting an American soldier and a Muslim (niqabi) woman (niqab = face covering) have been gracing cities across the country. Company spokespersons said the product is aimed at keeping couples together- and that they wanted to find the most “polarizing” couple to represent their product.
They said they wanted to feature a couple that you don’t typically see in mainstream media.
Okay. I get it. It’s advertising. That is the very aim and essence of advertising- to display images, sounds and impressions that capture attention and get into people’s heads resulting in people buying the product(s) being advertised. A successful ad campaign is one that:
- captures people’s attention
- is unique
- is creative
- is memorable
I would say that Snore Stop’s soldier/Muslim woman ad is succesful in capturing attention all right.
The ad was inspired by one of the company’s own- an employee whose friend, a U.S. Army solider, is married to a Muslim woman. There was controversy surrounding the people in the ad, initially believed by some to be the actual couple- but the company confirms they are in fact models. (Though the male model is a U.S. soldier.)
The company’s website, Green Pharmaceuticals, explains how they were founded by physicians and are now women-owned. (Cool!) Their angle? Successfully treating a snoring spouse restores intimacy and therefore, saves marriages. (Is this true? Snore Stop saves marriages? I dunno. But that is their angle.)
From their website:
Green Pharmaceuticals® Inc. founded in 1995 by a group of physicians committed to providing high quality natural remedies as an alternative to synthetic drugs. Green Pharmaceuticals® Inc. is now a woman-owned company. As women, we want to help millions by addressing one of the most overlooked problems that affects many couples every night, and all year round: snoring. The impact of snoring on people’s lives is profound. Snoring is one of the biggest threats to a happy marriage.
Every night in America and throughout the world millions of spouses have to make a decision about leaving the bedroom in order to get a good night’s sleep, which destroys all intimacy. When we lack a good night’s sleep, we break down emotionally, mentally, and physically. Moreover, snorers have sex less often or have a decreased interest in sex due to being tired. SnoreStop® saves relationships by keeping you together™.
There are a variety of couples portrayed on their website. With snorers no longer relegated to the couch … couples using Snore Stop are now enjoying intimate and wonderful marriages. (I wonder if this product will result in a decrease in the divorce rate? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.)
A number of mainstream news outlets covered this story. The Today Show posted a link to the billboard on their Facebook page and invited viewers to comment. I joined in the dialogue along with many others. As expected, there were ignorant comments from people complaining that soldiers didn’t belong with Muslim women. And there were also a number of encouraging comments about how the ads shouldn’t bother anyone unless there is bias involved.
I also got into a lively debate online with a woman who was offended by the ads- stating they depict Iraqi soldiers and their “war brides.” And Iraqi refugees themselves were apparently upset.
So the company got what it wanted.
I’m thinking this billboard ad is not that much different than a picture of Miley Cyrus these days doing just about anything. Miley has created an image of being “controversial” which keeps the internet users clicking and the money rolling.
Do I think this ad was in the best taste?
Do I think it’s full impact on people was well thought out by the makers of Snore Stop?
Do I think Snore Stop representatives are experts on Muslim social issues, Iraqi war dynamics, U.S. foreign policy or really anything outside of snoring aids that allegedly save marriages?
Do I think their ad is doing harm to the planet?
No- I do not. In fact, I actually think the ad is a GOOD thing for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. It’s particularly good for Muslim women who choose to wear the niqab. Images of niqabi women are not exactly front and center in western culture. And just like anything else, when something is different, weird, “foreign,” it can tend to invoke fear- and often times bigotry.
Images of Muslim women in our media will only serve the Muslim community (and the U.S. as a whole) well. The more times we see a niqabi woman, the more our brains are trained to not think of her as a foreign object- or something to fear.
The people at Snore Stop didn’t create this billboard to further the cause of Muslim assimilation or to fight against the pervasive Islamophobia industry in the United States. They created the billboard ads to get attention—– and to sell Snore spray. (And save marriages!)
But an unexpected result is that they got A LOT of people talking about interfaith relations, interfaith couples and Muslims in America. And that is a really good thing.
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