Screengrab: AutoZone

Just look at this ad. AutoZone gets it.

(This 30-second spot was published on YouTube nearly a year ago, but for some reason I’m just seeing it for the first time today.)

What’s the standard context for women in auto parts store commercials? They’re often portrayed as the damsel in distress, right? Something along the lines of “my car is making a funny noise?

But in this AutoZone ad, this woman isn’t here because she needs help choosing and changing wiper blades. No, she’s in the middle of a friggin’ brake job and just stopped in to pick up a few things.

We don’t actually see her doing any wrenching, but look at her outfit. That’s the first thing that caught my eye here. No dress or fancy hairdo, just work boots, jeans, a hoodie, her hair tied back. (Her clean hands probably just indicate that she wears gloves, or washed up before heading into town.)

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And judging by her general attitude, she’s on a mission, too. Notice her reaction when the counter guy presents the caliper tool: she carefully inspects the case to make sure that no parts of the kit are missing. This ain’t her first rodeo. And she’s not here to spend a lot of time shopping around either. She’s just eager to get the job done.

Screengrab: AutoZone

As for the parts that she’s buying, we see a rotor (just one, look at the way the empty box is sagging under the weight), brake pads, and a caliper. She already knew that she needed a caliper! Hell, I’m just going to go ahead and assume that she brought the old one in for a core, and that it’s been transferred to the new box, which is why we’re not seeing the caliper box here on the counter.

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Oh, and speaking of boxes, check out the part number on the brake rotor box. That’s right: she’s working on the rear brakes of a 2003-2011 Panther-platform car.

Am I reading too much into this? Yeah, probably. It’s an ad. It’s staged. The only thing that really bothers me about this ad is how she’s about to leave with a “free” tool, yet doesn’t seem to realize that there’s a deposit involved. Did she pay yet or not? But I digress...

It’s just refreshing to see women portrayed like this, especially in a parts store ad. It’s long overdue.

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Looks like the only damsel in distress here is this poor guy: