Okay, we get the picture! SEX SELLS, but why? Sex is a primal instinct that evokes fantasy. By filling advertisements of everything from perfume to alcohol with pictures of female body parts, it appeals to humans on a primitive level. The Skyy Vodka ad in the upper left corner of the collage sends the message that if you wave this bottle of alcohol in the air on a beach, a girl with those great legs will appear and start walking in your direction. It seems to be that in today’s world, using sex to sell a product works because the images used appeal to a natural, animal like instinct that allows the imagination of the consumer to fantasize.
Almost every industry you can think of including cigarettes, clothing, shoes, perfumes, and alcohol have a huge obsession with sex and pulling apart the bodies of women to sell their product. These advertisements not only portray woman in a degrading way, but also send out messages that aren’t intended to sell the product, but instead to set the ideal for their product. The ad for Trojan condoms, on the lower left, for instance, not only cuts off the girl’s face, but puts the condom inside of her bra. This implies not only that woman should be looked at as body parts, but also that it is a woman’s job to be prepared for a sexual encounter, because those men are out there to get her. Yet at the same time, that girl’s half of a head is smiling. The Tom Ford Cologne ad, uses a woman’s breasts, mouth and hands to make it appear that she is having an orgasm with a bottle of cologne in her cleavage. Kirkham and Weller state “The visual pleasures of the advertisements evoke the pleasures involved in the application of the cosmetic…” In other words, viewing this woman, allows men to think that if they wear this apply this product, not only will they feel great, but they will attract a woman and be able to make that woman feel great.
The most interesting ad I came across was the one on the lower right corner. It is an advertisement against fur products. It states in large print “Be comfortable in your OWN skin, and let animals keep theirs. How may I ask is a girl supposed to feel comfortable in their own skin unless they look like that girl. This is supposed to be a public service type announcement, and yet it still finds a way to put down women. It’s like we can never do it right. The society tells the woman to be glamorous and beautiful, but don’t think about wearing leather or fur, which in the fashion industry are huge. It almost makes me laugh to see such an ad with a naked woman on it. In Sut Jhally’s Image Based Culture, discusses a survey of what makes people happy and the answers to that survey have seemingly to deal with social aspects, and not material ones. That is why advertising must imply that their material products will bring on these social aspects such as sex.
Jhally, Sut. Image-Based Cutlure: Advertising and Popular Culture. The World & 1. Washington Times Corporation, 1999.
Kirkham, Pat & Alex Weller. Cosmetics: A Clinique Case Study. The Gendered Object.