Cat Got Your T-elevision?

by PHOENIX

Advertising wields the power to create brands, images, and identities. By invasively integrating itself into our society, ads frequently utilize tropes to portray common qualities of different identities. Such is the case with several archetypes present in today’s society. In particular, I will be looking at how cat-enthusiasts appear in commercials, and how this demographic is constructed using prevalent ideologies.

In this first commercial, the viewer can see both a promotion of Coke and Taylor Swift’s CD. Throughout the ad, the focus is primarily on Taylor, as she sips Coke and happily plays with her cats. However, the twist is that each time she sips her drink, the amount of cats in front of her multiplies. Evidently, she is enthused by this, and continues drinking her pop so that she can be surrounded by a staggering amount of cats. Now, Taylor Swift is an excellent celebrity to endorse the image of a cat-lover, as they now share similar brands. Taylor’s image is increasingly drifting away from her former connotation with being a serial-dating man-eater, and she is now adjusting her brand by not publicizing her relationships and frequently mentioning her cats. Single women in society are often stigmatized with labels such as “crazy cat lady” if they are reluctant to enter a relationship or go on dates – even if they do not own any cats. By identifying herself as a woman who retains such overwhelming joy from the presence of cats while thriving in the absence of men, Taylor emerges herself into this ideology.

Now, Taylor Swift is not the only celebrity who presents themselves as a subject in this ideology. In this commercial, Eva Longoria can be seen dancing with her cat in a large, ornate mansion. She is playing music, wearing luxurious-looking garments, and displaying an impressive degree of dance technique. It all looks quite serious until the scene is juxtaposed against a silent shot from outside of her house – this particular shot provides the reader with the sound of muffled music and an image of Eva dancing, which gives the commercial a light-hearted and comical twist. This twist is complimented by the sole diction of the commercial, which is “My passion. My cat. My choice.” After Eva says those words, she stops dancing to lay on the ground in a position reminiscent of a cat ready to pounce. Another interesting aspect of this commercial is the song and dance. The music is upbeat, and Eva dances in a style indicative of some sort of Latin genre. Many Latin dances often require partner-work between a man and a woman; however, Eva’s solo dancing contributes to the trope that women with cats abstain from romantic relationships, as it is night time, she is accompanied by a cat instead of a boyfriend or husband as one would expect.

This next commercial, despite not displaying a single woman, still exhibits a similar ideology. It shows a woman who is too busy cooing on the floor with a cat, to join her friends and partner for dinner. She neglects the dinner gathering to the extent where her partner remarks that her food is getting cold. This blatant lack of concern for her dinner and company, due to her fixation on her cat, insinuates that she enjoys the presence of her cat more than actual people and food. Once again, this helps frame the construct that female cat enthusiasts are obsessed with cats to the extent that it inhibits their social lives. Therefore, these sorts of advertisements create an association that any woman who owns a cat must be subject to the cat-lady stereotype. These commercials illustrate that regardless of a woman’s marital status, if she owns a cat, she will enjoy the cat’s company over that of humans.

Altogether, the advertising of cat-ladies contributes to the concept of interpellation because, despite featuring different women in different environments, these commercials portray the same static subject. There is a romantically-disinterested woman, with at least one cat, indoors, and catering to this animal in some way or another. The aforementioned descriptions are easily applicable to any of the commercials featured in this text, and beyond. This image has become so prominent in our cultural discourse that countless members of society would be able to ascribe similar attributes if they were asked to describe what comes to their minds when they imagine a “woman who has a cat.” Most likely, the respondents of that question would arrive at a similar, overall description that characterizes the iconic cat-lady. Advertising works to perpetuate this image, by continuously introducing it into our culture via commercials. This creates rigid boundaries that are hard to defy, and it creates a distinction between subjects who belong to this demographic, and those who do not.