mardi, janvier 30, 2007

Life Stages and Life Insurance

This is another one of those "my day was too unexceptional to warrant a major post, so here's something else" posts. My day can be mostly summarized by the French phrase "boulot, apéro, dodo" (work, [post-work, pre-dinner] drink, sleep). Dinner actually came before the apéro; I had skipped lunch, so I ate a really early dinner (6pm). Then, a certain next-door neighbour--let's call him P.--invited me to drink wine and hang out in his room listening to music. I didn't want to be antisocial. I also didn't want to turn down good, free wine. Several hours later, I went back to my room, cleaned the place up, did a bit of catch-up blogging, and then hit the sack. Voilà, my day.

So, I took these pictures of an advertisement I saw in a bus shelter on the way home a week ago:

So, this is an advertisement for La Poste's insurance trust, Vivaccio (the postal service here also offers banking and insurance, for reasons that are probably historically interesting). The ad type translates to "Vivaccio life insurance: because one can live many lives in one life." What I found interesting in this image is how the "many lives" of their (presumably male) audience are portrayed. You've got:

Baby Life:
a relatively conventional representation of an infant, but no toddler/child/tween stages.
Teen/Young Adult Life:
already approaching the workforce and/or higher education (with a tie?), although the hair is indy-boy-messy and the guy is clutching a guitar.
Adult/Middle-Age Life:
neater hair, full suit, cell phone and document envelope.
Mid-Life Crisis Life:
greying hair, receding hairline, visible jawline (double-chin?)...but also Hawaiian shorts (which is not common swimwear in France, as I've noted before), a surfboard, and no shirt.
Old Age Life:
no longer engaging in youthful sports, this old man is now dressed in age-appropriate fashion (collared shirt and sweater-vest, slacks) and engaging in more sedentary hobbies (painting). And he's wearing glasses, now.

I'm particularly interested in the representation of the teen life and the mid-life crisis life. I'd imagine that an equivalent rendering of the teen in an American ad would involve a rock concert t-shirt or A&F pseudo-sports-team shirt with baggy jeans and a reversed ball-cap. This character in fact seems to be referencing the early-20s phase. In a country where there are many viable and respectable alternatives to university study, it isn't out of the ordinary for someone to be working full-time or in an internship by their early twenties. So this seems to reference a post-school, career-oriented youth culture participant that doesn't seem to figure us an archetype in North America.

I'm also amused by the mid-life crisis guy. Perhaps this is partially fuelled by the social services system and union pension plans that are widely available throughout France, which allow people to retire earlier than they would in the States or Canada. One of my old friends from my high-school language exchange program has a father who worked until 40-something as a train conductor and now lives the happily retired life, tending his garden, running marathons, travelling all over, and making jams and preserves. Sure, North Americans certainly have their mid-life crises, but they usually keep on working, and it's usually seen precisely as a moment or a passage, rather than a prolonged stage.

Well, feeling rather amused and completely under-interpellated by the ad, I snapped a few pics of it and waited for my bus. I wonder what "perpetual doctoral student" would look like in this ad?

2 commentaires:

Sharon a dit…

Perpetual doctoral student looks like mid-life crisis guy, well because one skips the whole "job phase." Maybe not a surfboard, perhaps a book (something trashy or maybe "Getting Things Done!"). Definitely no shirt and the hawaiian shorts are a must.

Luis-Manuel Garcia a dit…

Dude, if I can arrange for a career that involves no shirt and Hawaiian shorts all the time, I'm SOLD. Maybe I need to get a job teaching in Hawai'i. Oh wait...there's no "job phase" for the perpetual student. Perhaps I'll be sleeping on the beach as well....