The commercial “Smart is Sexy”, which aired during “Modern Family”, appeals to middle class demographics and emphasizes sex to sell apparel and bedding. Kmart’s target market is probably a middle-class woman who shops for herself and her family.
The ad features a Latin American actress, Vergara, a black woman, and a larger white woman. These races and body sizes can be associated with Kmart shoppers, as opposed to the white upper middle class. Yet, the diverse models in the commercial still appear with whitened features, as Kilbourne noted in “Killing Us Softly 4” that there is no place for non-white individuals in advertising. By feigning an image of diversity, this ad reinforces the ‘ideal white women’ image. The women of color also have the ‘ideal’ body types that Bordo describes in “Reading the Slender Body”. Similar to the way that Tsai describes that gay men are often depicted as white upper-class individuals to emphasize their sexuality, these women have the ‘perfect’ bodies allowing their race to be their most salient identity marker. The white woman’s body size then becomes her most salient marker.
The commercial clearly uses sex appeal (Vergara falling onto a bed to read) to sell the clothing and bedding. It transforms the boring library and plays on the ‘sexy librarian’ fantasy. As Hesse-Bieber writes that women tend to adopt the male heterosexual gaze, women can identify with the characters and then internalize what sexy is and how to act, adhering to this fantasy scenario. In this commercial, the ‘sex’ seems to be more striking than the clothing that Kmart is actually trying to sell to the consumer. Though the ad seems revolutionary in the model choice, it still emphasizes that “sex sells” and a ‘white ideal’ to live up to.
Sofia Vergara, Kmart, Smart is Sexy