The “Crafty Chica,” who made the Café Bustelo coffee can clock from yesterday’s post, also had a DIY project for making candle holders from recycled chili cans. I like these reused packaging projects where the branding is left intact. But what does the lovely La Morena woman’s averted gaze mean in this new candle-holder context? Look away from the light?
I’ve ruminated before on the woman with the averted eyes from the orange La Morena can. In the context of the label, I thought it was interesting that her attention was elsewhere. I stipulated to finding this attractive. Non-confrontational. I know it sounds voyeuristic, but isn’t it easier to look at someone who’s not looking back? The marketing rule is to “engage” with the consumer, but maybe, as consumers, we prefer to look at a package without risk of making eye contact.
Within the street environment where the code is in effect and enforced, forms of “dissing”—such as maintaining eye contact too long… can become a matter of life and death.
James J. Chriss
Social Control: An Introduction
As much as we anthropomorphize products and packaging, it’s reassuring when these objects refrain from staring us down. Some will disagree with me about this. Discussing their research and design for the Downy fabric softener label, Landor Associates asserts:
…we learned that a slightly older and more awake child was a great way to gain ground on the aspirational attribute of magnetic. The resulting design features a baby engaged in eye contact with shoppers, drawing them in at shelf.
OK fine, but that’s a baby. No one’s going to feel threatened by a baby staring them down.
Eye contact is powerful, but distracting. When someone looks back at you it makes you more self-conscious and aware of yourself. Less able to really observe. Maybe that sounds creepy in a Frank Booth “don’t you look at me, Mommy” sort of way.
Whatever. The heart wants what the heart wants. I remember in 1983 seeing the video for the Eurythmics’ song “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” and the thing that I mainly took away from it was how fetching Annie Lennox looked averting her eyes with super-short red hair. I just now went and found it online and, to my surprise, she does that exactly one time in the entire 3:16 minute video! So, apparently, the heart also remembers what it remembers.
Top photo: Annie Lennox averting her eyes in the 1983 Sweet Dreams video; lower photo: Sarah Augusta Dickson, first curator for the George Arents Collection on Tobacco at The New York Public Library (and my great aunt) averting her eyes
(After the fold, Sarah Augusta Dickson with George Arents…)
Photo courtesy of George Arents Collection on Tobacco, New York Public Library
Beach Packaging Design