Mirror Neurons and the Agony of Bad Advertising

The AIA (American Institute of Architects) have run this image in their magazine adverts for some time now. The caption next to the image reads: "Mom's cranky. Dad's irritable. The kids are grouchy. Everybody needs counseling. With an architect."


This ad is really quite awful for so many reasons. First of all the image of the woman screaming does nothing to promote architecture. Secondly, the scream annoys me to no end. I actually think this is due primarily to my mirror neurons. I see someone screaming, it makes me uncomfortable because she looks to be in pain, and now I, just in looking at her, relate to that pain and make a mental connection to the AIA. Great! The advertising firm has now united the AIA and the idea of pain.

But probably the most offensive thing about the advert is the fact that this comes off as sort of a cheap bit of advertising. The image looks like the redundantly bland images spat out by stock image firms and it seems as though the advertising firm slapped on the copy to make it fit the client.

Architects and the field of architecture deserve better than this. There needs to be something in the AIA's advertising that talks about the exciting new developments in architecture or, in contrast, how the contemporary AIA continues a very rich history.

Whatever, just please, no more screaming ladies.


It just came to me. It seems that the image of the screaming woman plays into stereotypes of the hysterical woman who is so overwhelmed and unable to handle life's pressures. Only to be rescued by the professional (read: male) architect. Mom's cranky, huh?
gregory turner-rahman