This article focuses on shampoo advertising for Saudi Arabian Television. It examines the ways in which shampoo advertisements produced for Saudi Arabian Television employ techniques to introduce and maintain codes of modesty in the construction of the Muslim female subject on-screen. I focus on the advertising of three shampoo brands — Pantene, Head and Shoulders, and Pert Plus — each of which manifests a classic use of the notion of “glocalization” in their construction. In Saudi Arabia, global shampoo companies address a market that does not permit the visibility of women without a veil, adapting their advertising accordingly. While this may seem straightforward, the complexity lies in the extent to which women's hair is considered “unrepresentable” in practice and in the paradoxes of presenting the veil on-screen while still demonstrating the product's benefits. A relationship must be formed between the Muslim female subject, hair, and existing codes of modesty. I examine the extent to which the veil, a visual signifier of modesty, is both upheld and evaded in the construction of the Muslim female subject, exploring the intricate and multivalent ways in which different brand advertisements negotiate the evasion of the veil on-screen. Islamic national discourse is inextricably linked to Saudi Arabian Television, with this relationship exemplified by the fact that it is broadcast from the two holy shrines of Makkah and Madīnah. The essay thus interrogates the manner in which the mobility of the veil on-screen relates to the production(s) of Islamic national discourse on Saudi Arabian Television.
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Noor Al-Qasimi; Shampoo: Editing, Advertising, and Codes of Modesty on Saudi Arabian Television. Camera Obscura 1 September 2011; 26 (2 (77)): 91–121. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/02705346-1301548
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