This ad for Excellence Proteines, a fitness store, resides just outside the front gates of my building here in Paris. I see it every day and it always perplexes me. It seems out of place in this quiet little neighborhood near la Bastille, where there are lots of écoles premiers and families. The ad promotes a nutrition- type store that sells vitamins, protein powder, and many other goods that are supposedly supposed to increase your performance and boost your immune system. The ad, therefore, is meant to promote good health and an active lifestyle. It does a good job at this. The ad portrays a sense of physical fitness, of excersize, play, perserverence, and … sex? I guess it’s true that sex has always been intrinsically related to sports and fitness, this ad, however, takes it to another level.
To me, there is something strange about this ad. It is a combination of both sports and sex, at the same time. The woman in the foreground of the picture and in the center of the image has a technically good physique and looks physically fit. What’s odd to me, is that she is wearing next to nothing. The rest of the players in the image are all working, playing, moving. They are all in equally good shape and fully dressed. The center character, however, poses, stagnant, in the middle, clearly separate from the action going on behind her. I imagine it’s quite difficult to play any sports in a thong and cropped T-shirt and nothing else.
That is not, however, what strikes me the most about this ad. From what I’ve seen of French advertising, and American advertising, I would draw the conclusion that an ad like this looks as though it belongs in America. The bright colors, showy nudity, and flashy, out of style, design do not coincide with my other experiences with French media. Furthermore, ideals such as these seem like important American ideals, rather than French ones. For instance, be stronger, be fitter, look better, all in one store. This type of idealistic one stop, perfect body image shopping is a much more American way of life than a Parisian one. What’s more is that there is a surf shop right next door to the store. I can only wonder how many customers stores like these, and the surf shop, get. It is possible that it is just an out of date ad, but I haven’t seen any other ads like this around Paris. I can’t help but wonder if it is a small but mighty sign of American influence in Paris.