Friday, March 18, 2011

I personally am completely over and disgusted with advertiser's approach on "sex sells". It has gotten more than just "old" but I'm sure there are way many more creative ways or better strategies to sell a product than to put nude men or women (women most of the time) and objectify them and stereotype them in order to sell the most mundane products like body wash.

I recently came upon an ad for Tom Ford's cologne.  There are a couple versions of this.

First I saw this image above and was immediately grossed out but not very surprised. It seems like the more well known the brand is, the more 'sex' the company tries to sell. Obviously this is offensive but I also thought in my mind, "Do you want to smell like someone's vagina? Then this is the perfume for you! It's tasteLESS and inappropriate. More ads feature the woman's breasts or butts, as a matter of fact, Tom Ford has already done a campaign featuring the perfume bottle in between the model's breasts but I think this may be the first ad featuring or eluding to the vagina that I have seen. 

In this one, the woman's legs are spread wide open. It's a suggestive pose and the fact that her hand is touching the bottle cap, eludes to the idea of her masturbating. Again, inappropriate and gross and I feel like it cheapens the product. To me, it is on the same level of tackiness as American Apparel  

As Jean Kilbourne's Beauty and the Beast  says that advertisement is not only selling the product, but values, images, concepts, etc. This is being advertised to males probably around the age 18-35(?) with expendable income. It is $60-$90. Since I am not a male, I do not know what the first idea that pops up in their head. Would someone actually run out and buy this because of the fact that the ad eludes to sex and a woman's private parts? According to Kilbourn, women are exclusively sex objects. And in this case, it is dead on. As a woman, I see it as the woman in the ad is just an object and if the man buys that product, it implies that he can buy sex or the woman altogether.I'd love to meet someone who is dumb enough to think this way.

I really do like the philanthropic approach with companies like Tom's shoes and also recently my friend recommended me an eyewear company called Warby Parker. With the same idea as Tom, once the costumer buys the product, 1 product will be donated to another person in need. Companies like Warby Parker probably do not have a huge amount of money to spend on huge ad campaigns. On their website, they even have a statement saying that truthfully, most people are overpaying for their glasses and they can offer the consumer better quality for less than $100 for frames + prescription. Their statement comes off as very genuine and most importantly they do not need to exploit male or females to sell their product. I believe with strategies like this, the fact that the consumer knows that whatever they purchase can help someone else in need, it may be more of an incentive to buy. Given that the quality is good, the consumer will recommend to others, etc. and the company can be successful in that way.

I supposed the 2 industries are completely different and also the target market may be different but advertising without the exploitation is do-able and profitable. It's a shame that luxurious companies have failed to do so.


  1. These perfume ads are so gross. This one takes it to a whole new level but almost all the perfume ads I see are just nasty and definitely do not make me want to go out and buy their product. I love your examples of different companies trying to make a difference. It takes the sex out of it and makes it about real people and real issues. Personally I would way rather get a product that isn't a ridiculous price simply because of their name and instead is going to a good cause.

  2. See this is what makes advertising annoying. It almost like the ad companies like to play the safe route and think that sex is the only option that will sell a product. Why can't we see the product that does not involve sex or some for of it. It's just annoying altogether.

  3. Tom Ford's Ads are ridiculous and so degrading.His ads portrays women as mere sex objects. He should come out of the "Sex Sells" theory and adopt other alternatives ways to promote his products.

  4. Are you opposed to using sex as a selling point? Why?
    Is it because it uses a human primal urge to sell products? Then how is it different from using images of babies to sell diapers?

    Marketing is based on tempting a person with the things he/ she wants. It has nothing to do with degrading women or an ideal. Marketing works on the soul purpose of presenting a a future where you obtained a certain goal, it implies that the product in question will help you attain that goal.

    Most men want sex, and most men wear cologne to have sex. Displaying a picture that implies this cologne will bring you closer to a woman's vagina is a 100% accurate ad. Just as displaying white sheets in a washing powder commercial.

    And Tom Ford is not to blame for the degrading of women, women are. The lady that agreed to pose with cologne to cover her vulva degraded herself for whatever finances or critical acclaim was involved. But then again, she made money and you are the one bitching online about it.
    And seeing how money is the means to obtain power; I'd be so bold to say she empowered herself using whatever she had to her *aherm* disposal.

    Don't get me wrong, I hate marketing as much as the next person, but there are no good or bad ads. They all abuse human emotions to sell products.