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Animals in advertising - Hymenoptera - Ant
Ants are always busy and walk around in great numbers while carrying green leaf cuttings. They can carry loads many times heavier than their own body. Ant highways are fascinating to look at, and must be proof of the efficient organisation and the colony's superior management.

Ants are therefore, not always successfully, called upon for ideas like work, producti­vity, communication, organisation, and exceed expectations. Finally, ants, like many animals, may also represent nature and the environment.

© 
first published: XI.2020

Of the more than 12 000
described species of ants, only about 50 species belong to the leafcutters. But they clearly capture the imagination the most, because the vast majority of the ants featured in an advertisement carry an impressive piece of leaf. Those who are not in the business of leaf logistics, are shown while balancing a load which is preferably massive, heavy, or of high value. That is how we know the Ant : always carrying heavy loads and working and saving supplies to get through winter.

Our first example
is an outlier because the animal is not running and not carrying a heavy load (1). The scene however does refer to the proverbial ant that was laughed at by the cricket for making provisions for winter (). The ant is shown before an automaton and the caption says: Do you want to know what your future pension will look like ? You the reader are working hard, just like the ant, but contrary to the ant, you must not rely on a fortune teller to know if retirement will bring misery or pleasure. A special website is announced where the reader may get an estimate based on his own working history so far. The poor ant must do with the Gipsy Grandma which is a small coin operated fortune teller with sophisticated movements, like nods, turns of the head, and hands picking cards. Sophisticated for its time at least: grandma came out in 1957 !

(1) 2006 – Know the future of your pension.
(2) 2005 – Ant labor. — recycling of packaging
(3) 2004 – We are the bank, you the banker. — savings account

Recycling packaging is
a work of ants, says this advert (2) of a company in the business of sorting and recycling, and together -> sorting well -> better recycling. I do not understand the connection with ants, or their labor. Ants are in the business of recycling, but the image is certainly not the best illustration. The advert is about recycling of disposed materials and what the ants are carrying are green leaves. These are taken from plants where the leaves are still very much in use. In the context of recycling, brown, dry leaves would have been a better choice.

Given the amount of work in progress, I find it remarkable that none of the leaves still on the branch shows any cutout. Also, why are the ants climbing upwards with their catch ? They should carry their load down to the nest, where the fungal gardens are.

We are the bank
and you the banker (3) features leafcutter ants carrying leaves with cutouts showing the performance of the account. Good point is that the ants carry spines on their back and therefore really are of the leafcutter kind. Other examples with the right kind are the Nos 11 and 15.

I am not sure how to read the announcement. The ants are likely choosen because of the provi­dential ant of Aesopus again. But does the text means that I myself —supposedly the banker— will have to do all the work ? Instead of my money and the savingsbank ? If that is the case then it is more profitable to entrust my money elsewhere. In that same year, 2004, another company also in the money business and also referring to Aesopus, offers much better conditions: see Rabbits & Hares.

Working environmentally friendly
generates money (4) because you may qualify for a premium of the government. Why the money is brought by ants, is not clear. They must represent the environment which is grateful for your green entrepreneurship.

(4) 2004 – work environmentally friendly. — premium
(5) 2009 – Reduce costs, increase productivity. — automation

The next three
advertisements (Nos. 5–7) are remarkably similar though they are from different brands and from years apart. We recognize firstly the idea that ants are a busy lot. We learn that they work in team. And finally our attention is drawn to the contrast between the minuscule ant and their enormous load capacity. But why exactly ants are combined with jewelry, is not clear.

(6) 2005 – Provoke inferiority complexes. — jewelry
(7) 2005 — jewelry

(8) 2007 – Never underestimate the little guy. — airport
(9) 1989 – He thinks he's a polo. — car
(10) 2009 – Designing ships is no easy feat

Ants may be small
but they are capable of great achievements. And so are we, declare an airport (8), a family car (9, ), a designer of ships (10), a digital press (11), and computers (13). In all these advertisements contrast is used between the tiny creature and the impressive perfor­mance. It is a common approach when the actors are very small or very big animals (see also the chapters about Mice, and Elephants).

The network switch of No. 14 rightly states: Power means nothing without control. The ant would get nowhere with its load if it couldn't control its own course. The approach is different from the previous advertisements. Not the size of the load is important, but the fact that the animal mana­ges to keep the load under control.

(11) 1998 – Heavy duty … — digital printing
(12) 1999 – Ants know how to transport water. — utility company

(13) 2001 – Minuscule prices. — computer servers
(14) 2001 – Is it power or control … — network switches

A theme that
frequently pops up in advertisements with animals is We have learned from Mother Nature, sometimes together with and made improvements. There is a touch of this theme in advertisement No. 9 for the family car () where we are asked Do you know many ants with athermanous , tinted windows?

Other advertisements, like the Nos 12, 15, and 17 go the full way of telling us what they did learn from the Ant but none of them are even slightly convincing.

How do you
transport water over long distances? This is an important environmental issue today. We find the answer in nature. The ant, for example, has known how best to transport water for thousands of years. … We get our inspiration and insights from nature. That is what we can read in the text of advert 12. Are we really supposed to believe that this company brings water to our homes in discrete bulbous packets and not through tubing?

(15) 2003 – Perfect workflows in nature. — workflow software
(16) 2005 – Access Anytime Anyplace. — mobile business software
(17) 1990 – The smart one can be strong. — digital storage

It is good
to know that Some workflows in nature are perfectly organised (15). And then they continue with But for the production of printed materials …. There is of course their software solution which integrates every step of the production process and at the same time sends information to management. They never refer to the ants of the image —leafcutters, yes— and what other connection there may be is not clear as indeed there is no dedicated caste of ants doing the management of the flow of green leafs.

The makers of
the storage system (17) are telling us that Nature evolves smoothly and efficiently. Just like us with our flexible and reliable storage system. Nature does not evolve smoothly and efficiently, just as she does not evolve in circles (see Smaller Cetaceans). The caption Who is smart can also be strong and the choice of ants is difficult to understand. It clearly is an allusion to the proverb those who are not strong must be smart, but what about the ants. Are they smart? Strong perhaps because of their number? But what is the relationship with storage discs in different sizes?

Interesting: one of the strong points of the system is that … you can send disks by express mail: the ideal alternative to modems and a saving of your valuable computer time. It was a different time, back then in the year 1990. Nostalgia.

Access Anytime Anywhere
(16) is about mobile access to all you need to run a competitive business. The ants are never mentioned but I presume that it is like in No. 15 where it is about managing workflow and reporting to management.

We wrote in
the introduction to this series that we would judge the authors based on how the animals were used in their designs. We feel like No. 1 is the best application: we can see why an ant was chosen and no erroneous statements were written. I don't think we are too harsh when we consider all the other attempts as failings.

Chapters about Hymenoptera
:
  • Ant
  • Bee
  • Wasp

 The ant and the cricket is a fable by Aesopus whose other fable about the hare and the tortoise is referred to in advertisements with Rabbits & Hares.

 The text is hilarious and was probably written while under influence of hallucinogenics. Translated from Dutch: First there was the ant. Lively, always on the go and working like no other. And then Volkswagen created the Polo. Nimble, manoeuvrable and reliable. It soon became clear that he could be compared in many ways with his neighbor, the ant.Even the ant wonders how he [the Polo] manages to do it with so little [fuel]. … and so on.

 athermanous = capable of stopping radiant heat or infrared radiation.

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