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Animals in advertising - Bigger Cetaceans *
More than half of all advertisements with Whales show them jumping out of the water. Most often it's a jump towards a better life, to more freedom but without the notion of escape which is typical for Goldfish. Killer whales, when they are used, don't seem to have a single clear meaning.

In other adverts the characteristic flukes are shown. Flukes may stand for an unspoiled environment, for freedom and for the size of ambitions.

first published: x.2006; updated: vi.2020

The first two
examples of advertisements with whales are probably also the best. They both are for the same brand and stand 15 years apart. Both adverts feature a nice unspoiled seascape with a whale centerstaged, but the focus is slightly different. No. 1 is about the seas while No. 2 is talking about preserving the world in general.

(1) 1991 – Technology that works for life
(2) 2006 – Sometimes contributing to the world means leaving it just as it is.

I am rather pleased with the story because it is very straightforward and not with all the fluff trying to hide that the company has no opinion. The few lines (No. 1) do tell exactly how mankind behaves : The few blue whales remaining alive in the world are no match for the predator who has carelessly eliminated eight hundred species of life from the face of the earth in this century alone: Man. Like every other creature in the sea, the blue whale requires clean water to live.
At the time the disaster with the Exxon Valdez (March 1989) was still burnt on our retinas and that probably explains the focus of this advert : the company is producing supertankers with a double-hull, double-bottom construction that prevents oil spills. The seascape stands for the oceans.

Exxon Valdez has
sunk to the bottom of our memories and global warming and the influence of man on the world's climate has come to the foreground. This change is reflected in (2). The language also is tuned into modern times: we are submerged in a cocktail of slogans without real content: Sometimes contributing to the world means leaving it just as it is. or … to succeed in business we must also succeed in life. or A better world is our business and some more. Just one titbit stands out : the company is … developing tanker ships that are powered by liquid natural gas – a cleaner-burning, more efficient fuel …. The seascape here, unlike in (1) stands for the whole world and not for the oceans only.

(3) 2000 – Oxygen — job in research
(4) 2002 – The size of your ambitions. —
commercial vehicle

Whales in spite
of their big lungs need fresh oxygen habitually (3). Do you also feel the need of an oxygen rich environment ? Wishing for a new breath ? We'll provide you with the oxygen. The advertisement is part of a series casting many species. All do rely on oxygen but are cast for other features. It is not entirely clear why a whale (Humpback) has been chosen. I suppose it had to be an animal living in an environment where oxygen is not taken for granted. There is no need for a Humpback to breach to take a breath, but it certainly makes for a better picture. The job offer by this choice emanates also a feeling of adventure, new frontiers, discovery. Pitty the text which sounds a bit forced. You can find similar advertisements with dolphins.

Tailored to your
ambitions (4) could very well have been a job advert, but instead it is for a range of commercial vehicles. The growth of your business is best taken into account from the very beginning. The whale in this case simply means big which is supposedly the size of your ambitions.

(5) 199? – For a better life — extralegal pension
(6) 2008 – I make unique pictures — pocketsize camera

For a better
life (5) is difficult to interpret. Maybe the Killer whale is shown to represent the dangers of life against which you need protection (see also Sharks). But it is more probable that only the happiness expressed by the jump is important. Today you are enjoying a carefree life ; keep it that way ; think ahead. Any species radiating happiness would do.

The same holds
true for our next advert with a Killer whale (6). The camera is slender, stylish, comes with autofocus and face recognition, and is equipped with a unique sliding lens cover. The closing words are Capture the most beautiful moments in your life and share them with everyone. Now, tell me, why the Orca ?

The world's smallest
computer in the ear of the hearing impaired (7). In killer whales —and other whales— the bone capsule of the ear is separated from the skull, just like this computer which acts like an external ear. It is hard to believe, but could it be that a whale was therefore a deliberate choice and not a coincidence ? But why precisely a killer whale ? Because they live in pods and keep contact with each other by means of sound ? But then the Orca of No. 5 could very well have been chosen because the writer knew of their social behaviour ?

(7) 1997 – The smallest computer in the world — hearing aid
(8) 200? – Arctic freshness now in your kitchen
(9) 2002 – Clears your nose

The cleaning product
for the kitchen (8) relates to the clean air in polar regions with Arctic freshness. The fluke stands for the arctic and the supposedly fresh air there. The writer took a serious risk in chosing a whale. Whales are by no means restricted to the Arctic, not even to the polar regions. Therefore the jump to the clean arctic does not come naturally. Disaster looms should the viewer connect to the stinking air raising from the blowhole when the whale exhales.

Advertisement (9), just
like the Nos. 3 and 8, relates to respiration. In No. 3 it was the oxygen, in No. 8 clean and fresh air and here it is about respiration itself. The product of No. 9 un­cloggs your nose and the blow of a whale is indeed evidence of a nose in good shape. It is disappointing that the photo editing was a bit amateurish.

(10) 1995 – Customized solution for your communications — telephone exchange
(11) 2019 – Whatever happens on your travels — travel assistance
(12) 2008 – Sons of the sea — yachts

The telecom advertisement
is a mystery (5). As they can supply a telephone exchange for up to 25 000 extensions, you will get a solution tailored to your needs. Why the Humpback ?

Definitely a shock
when a whale jumps over you (11). The whale acts as an unexpected set­back when you are away from home. No matter what happens while traveling, with this travel assistance, your holiday will not fall into the water —come hell or high water. It is our only example where a whale is emanation of a possible danger.

We should note that precisely the same scene could have been used for a whale watching holiday. People on such a trip would consider the event a real highlight and wouldn't dream of calling their travel insurance.

Sons of the
sea for a range of yachting vessels (12) shows a new meaning of the fluke. In advert No. 4 the fluke stood for the whale whose size relates to the important size of the reader's ambitions. In the Nos. 1 and 8 the fluke stood for an unspoilt environment and the Arctic regions with fresh air, respectively. The fluke here most likely means escape or freedom to roam the oceans. This is somewhat unusual because for this kind of message copywriters more often call for dolphins.

Other sections in
this chapter:

* Cetaceans, if you ask a zoologist, count several families like Right and Gray Whales, Rorqual Whales, Sperm Whales, Blackfisch, Oceanic Dolphins and several more against which my distinction in Bigger and Smaller may seem futile and inadequate. But if you look at the way copywriters handle them, then grouping Cetaceans in bigger (or whales) and smaller (mostly dolphins) species and forgetting about teeth and baleens and flukes etc. is probably the best approach.

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