Women in Advertising

Women in Advertising - The role of sex appeal in...

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The role of sex appeal in advertising is undeniable. As repeated by marketing and sales guru Kevin Hart, “sex sells”. But Kevin is not the only one on the bandwagon of sexually charged media ads. Indeed, it would appear as if most advertisements nearly cross the line of exploiting the models to advertise a product completely unrelated to the ad. In response to a recent Carl’s Jr. ad, columnist Maryanne Burger jokes, “you have to wonder who exactly Carl’s Jr. is trying to sell when they put Paris Hilton in a leather bikini while she washes a Bentley.” It seems more and more advertisers are following the route of selling sex and hoping that the product somehow weaves its way into the mind of the viewer. As for the woman’s role in all this, Burger continues, “could Carl’s Jr. be trying to get me, a married woman in her early 30’s, to purchase their Six Dollar Burger?” Her rhetoric points to a deeper sociological issue of the roles of men and women in modern society: women sell the product by dancing in skimpy clothing, and men buy it. A great deal of modern advertising follows this same path in which the social roles of men and women are clearly defined, having the former depicted as a savvy, interested consumer while the latter is merely a conduit through which to grab the interest of the former. But while most advertising follows this general scheme, there are some ads that break the mold. Sportswear advertising is of particular note in this area. In general, though, it is found that ads targeted toward men utilize a central theme of women disempowerment while ads targeted toward women revolve around the empowerment of female role models. Still of additional interest is how advertisers deal with gender neutral products. It becomes necessary, then, to look at a few key advertisements and draw conclusions of the psychological and sociological basis onto which advertising in society is driven.
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One print ad by jeans maker Jordache features a woman atop a white horse. In the frame, this is women slung provocatively over the horse and wears a small blouse and, presumably, Jordache jeans. However, there is no single mention in the frame of the product being sold – aside from a comparatively small “Jordache” in the top left – and certainly no explanation as to why the product should be purchased. In general, most fashion advertisements follow this same formula and heavily utilize the gender stereotype that women’s primary purpose is to lay somewhere and be pleasant to look at. It appeals to the social norm that while men’s clothing is meant to be utility, women’s clothing is
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Women in Advertising - The role of sex appeal in...

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