Citi’s “The Ex” or How to Sell Women

In “The Ex,” Citigroup advertises their CitiCard’s Private Pass benefits. After a man is dumped for being boring, he researches these, saying: “That’s how I met Marilyn, Giada, and Alicia.” His encounters with these women illustrate the card granting men “More Access” (the words the ad ends on). Hesse-Biber writes: “Our society encourages women to see themselves as objects” (62).  Turning “More Access” into access to desirable women, this ad epitomizes this. Made for (probably white) heterosexual urban males with disposable income, it portrays embracing consumption as granting heterosexual benefits, and does so by turning women into commodities.

The man staring at Marilyn Monroe’s pictures in a museum exemplifies this. As in Berger’s discussion of viewing the nude, Marilyn exists only for the man’s gaze, seemingly looking back at him. As always, she symbolizes heterosexual male fantasy- but now, she is attainable through consumption. “Everything must appear to be the result of his being there,” says Berger (39). This applies to the ad, where all the women act in response to the man’s appearance: Marilyn waits to be examined, Giada feeds him and receives his praise, Alicia sings for him, notices him, and meets him. Tsai describes the “one type of power women wield in…patriarchal society- to embody femininity in order to attract men” (9). This ad propagates this message, representing women who could be considered powerful in their own right only in terms of the man.

Made for heterosexual men, it also conflates their sexuality and then their identity with consumerism. Private Pass changes the man. In the end he asks, “who’s boring now?” He has reformed through consumerism/meeting women. He has also regained dominance. By breaking up with him “Lauren” demonstrated power, but, through consumption, he gains power over women. In the end, capitalistic patriarchy triumphs.


Works Cited:

Citi:The Ex,

Berger, John. “From Ways of Seeing.”

Hesse-Biber. “Selling the Body Beautiful: Food, Dieting, and Recovery.”

Tsai, Wan-Hsiu Sunny. “Assimilating the Queers: Representations of Lesbians, Gay Men, Bisexual, and Transgender People in Mainstream Advertising.”

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