Readings — From the September 2013 issue

Kiss and Makeup

From observational notes cited in “Everyday Advertising Context: An Ethnography of Advertising Response in the Family Living Room,” by the Australian researchers Laknath Jayasinghe and Mark Ritson, in the June issue of the Journal of Consumer Research.

Bec moves closer to Craig on the couch during a break in Dr. Phil. As a Reflex copy-paper advertisement airs, the couple both focus their eyes on the screen. Their behaviors are awkward and stiff. Craig turns to Bec, and they face each other. They kiss for ten seconds. Any potential to engage with the Reflex ad is displaced. The couple complete the kiss, sit back, and smile midway through a Lite ’n’ Easy ad.

Hector very briefly monitors the dimly lit Iron Man ad. But Victor’s raised voice displaces Hector’s ad response, and he turns to Craig and pensively listens to him discuss the health of a sick relative. Hector wears a concerned look and asks if his grandaunt is going to die. Craig, sensing his son’s unease, reassures him that she is all right. The contrasting brightness of a L’Oréal mascara ad forces Hector’s eyes back to the television. While gazing at the spot, he quietly murmurs: “I don’t want Mum to be sad.”

A recruitment advertisement for the Australian Defence Force prompts Damien to turn to Greg and ask, “Dad, what did you actually want to be when you grow older?” Greg faces Damien and mentions that as a young boy he dreamed of being a veterinarian. Both gaze back at the ad as Damien remarks on his dad’s current job and comments that his own dreams of being a soccer player may not materialize. As the ads roll on, Greg talks about his experiences regarding career aspirations, personal ideas of success, and moral attitudes to money. Sea Patrol returns and they both focus on the program in silence.

Single Page



Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada


October 2015

Lives by Omission

Lifting as We Climb

Cattle Calls

Getting Jobbed

view Table Content