Your inner sexpot consumer
Posted by Nic Heath on June 24, 2009
A couple of Sundays ago The Age website featured “Cheeky ad campaign or sexploitation?” – an article about “a popular clothes retailer using highly sexualised images of young women – many of them company staff ” in its advertising.
There are tons of photos of women in provocative poses on the Models page of the American Apparel site. I’m not arguing for the complete removal of sexual provocation from advertising images – sex has a place in the public arena – however some of the photos have no discernible relevance to American Apparel products. In this slideshow, for instance, Hannah Lee is pictured topless, with no American Apparel clothing in frame. Sunday’s Age article describes Hannah as ‘very young’ and the pictures ‘all provocative poses and barely covered breasts.’
The DIY aesthetic of many of the photos – taken in front of door frames, on couches, but mostly on white-sheeted beds – gives the viewer a sense of the voyeur. The many pictures of Natasha look like they were taken by a lover. Sophia, on all fours, arches her back and cocks her hips. Veronica, looking over her shoulder towards the camera, juts out her buttocks. Many of the other photos stick with this soft-porn script.
It is not hard to work out why businesses such as American Apparel opt for overtly sexual images to advertise their product. As Daily Finance points out, this strategy has been very effective for Calvin Klein in the past. “Every year or so, Calvin Klein manufactures a fresh “controversy” with a button-pressing, taste-defying ad campaign calculated to generate stories on the evening news without quite crossing the line into outright indecency of the sort that would provoke the authorities.”
I followed the Daily Finance article to this early incarnation of teenage sexual innuendo as a marketing strategy, when Brooke Shields reminds us nothing comes between her and her Calvin Kleins.
Do these images constitute the “caricatures of female hotness” identified by Ariel Levy? Last year the Herald Sun reported that many women “felt the way they were portrayed in advertising and marketing harmed their ability to be taken seriously in the workplace.” Citing the results of a survey conducted by Splash Consulting Group, the article said “most of the 500 women surveyed said they would go out of their way to boycott a product or service if they were offended by an advertisement for it.”
While the sexualisation of women in advertising uses women as commodities, as Monica Dux and Zora Simic point out in The Great Feminist Denial, young women ‘make ideal consumers’. Will women use their buying power to render obsolete exploitative advertising?
This entry was posted on June 24, 2009 at 4:31 pm and is filed under Media Watch, Watching The Ad Breaks. Tagged: advertising, Fashion, feminism, the age. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.