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Sex Sells in Advertising Essay

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Advertising is everywhere in today’s world. Advertisers constantly are increasing their ad’s appeals by continuing to push the envelope. Society allows this to happen because people are always ready for the next best thing. One way that advertiser’s use to catch their audience’s attention is sex appeal. Companies want to get the message across that by purchasing their specific product a consumer can increase how much others desire them. The clothing industry seems to use sex appeal quite often.

Calvin Klein released an ad in spring of 2012 for their new line of jeans that were to be released. The ad portrays a male model with gorgeous, dark eyes and a perfectly toned and tanned body sprawled across what looks to be a mountain top. He’s wearing absolutely nothing besides a pair of fitted white jeans. There is quite a bit of contrast between his tan and his white jeans which pulls the viewer’s attention after being lost in the crevices of his sculpted body.

He also has a beautiful blonde woman, again, perfectly tanned and wearing nothing but a pair of tight, low cut green jeans, lying in his lap. They look care-free and relaxed. Both are showing plenty of skin which appeals to a person’s sexual desire.

I agree with Jean Kilbourne when she states that, “In the world of advertising, lovers are things, and things are lovers” (Kilbourne, Para 6). Kilbourne tells us that in society today people have an almost intimate relationship with their belongings and also have turned relationships into belongings. Companies feed off of a person’s predictability to buy an item that captures their desire to be desired. She makes a valid point that people tend to spend money on materialistic items because it continuously stays the same. Armani Jeans released a similar add in 2012. The ad shows a very handsome man lying with arms wide open on a fluffy rug. He has tight fitting jeans on, with the belt undone, and his shirt is wide open allowing the viewer to get a view of his perfectly sculpted chest and abdominal area. His facial expression tends to send the message that he is ready to fulfill anybody’s personal desires, thus appealing to the sexual need of the average American.

Jib Fowles would argue that appealing to a person’s sexual desires through advertisement can be tricky (Fowles, Para 22).People may have a negative reaction to advertisers trying to appeal to their need for sex. He explains that most of the time, ads are not directed at the desire of sex, but the desire of attention. However, attention and sex appeal typically go hand in hand. Society has based their views of people solely on looks causing everyday people to want to be more visually appealing compared to people from years past. The more skin a model shows, the more eyes he or she attracts, the more that people look at the model, the more the product is promoted. Though conservatives may disagree with this logic, it is true. Advertisers target certain groups through their ads. Sex, attention and affiliation are the way to go for most people between the ages of 17-21. True Religion Brand Jeans ad is of a petite blonde woman lying on the ground.

Her low rise jeans allow the audience to see her tan line around her waist. Her breasts are showing due to the fact that she isn’t wearing a shirt, but they are not completely exposed. Her eyes are done with dark makeup making her seem to be seductive, yet mysterious. Behind her, a male sits propped up on his elbow, shirtless, his arms glistening. He has shaggy dirty blonde hair that frames his face perfectly. He’s got rough facial hair that is in perfect contrast to the rest of his face. He looks mysterious as well, but has a vibe about him that screams bad boy. Advertisers often use techniques that Fowles has outlined for his readers. When ads are designed, they often are not from just one angle.

This ad uses six of Fowles fifteen advertising appeals. When you look at this ad you find the need for curiosity. Both the male and the female’s eyes are mysterious causing the onlookers to wonder. It peaks their curiosity. The ad features two people who are perfect. They both have flawless skin, are very attractive, gorgeous eyes, and amazing hair. This plays off the audience’s need for aesthetic sensations. Everyone wants to be viewed as flawless, sexy, and desirable. With flawlessness comes attention and sex appeal. Society focuses on beauty. The sexier a person is the more attention that individual receives. These two advertisement techniques tend to fall hand in hand. Last but not least, the audience experiences affiliation. By purchasing a pair of True Religion jeans, a person can feel a sense of belonging to a group (Fowles).

Advertisers feed off of people’s need to be a part of a group. They long to be involved with others and associated with people who like them. Kalle Lasn compares the excessive branding and need for acceptance to being in a cult. Lasn states, “Dreams, by definition, are supposed to be unique and imaginative. Yet the bulk of the population is dreaming the same dream. It’s a dream of wealth, power, fame, plenty of sex, and exciting recreational opportunities” (Lasn, Para 34). Advertisers focus on the dream that Lasn is referring to. Consumers are provoked to buy things that portray wealth, power, and sexual appeal, thus allowing their selves to be grouped with others and be labeled; hence the cult that Lasn refers to.

In the ad above, we see a popular rap artist, Nelly, lying carefree next to a beautiful woman. Nelly is wearing big bulky accessories such as his sunglasses and jewelry. He has very plain clothing on. The female however, is in a short, low rise skirt and matching short jean jacket with studs which pulls the audience’s attention to her. Her hair is laid perfectly, and her face is flawless. She’s gorgeous. Her leg is casually draped over him sending the message that maybe they are intimately involved. Apple Bottom Jean Co. definitely sends the message that looking sexy and getting attention goes hand in hand.

Abercrombie and Fitch use the appeal of attention, affiliation, and sex. Their models are typically males, in their early twenties, wearing loose fitting jeans, and are shirtless leaving their perfectly sculpted body exposed. A&F’s ads are normally shot with multiple models being grouped together smiling and enjoying life. This is sending people the messages that by purchasing this product, not only will the consumer look good and feel good but will be accepted by others.

Kilbourne’s logic that people look for relationships with their possessions instead of people can be proven true when it comes to clothing. People tend to take immaculate care of their clothing when they spend a lot of money on it. The average pair of jeans from A&F runs for $123 before tax so their consumers are more likely to take care of their product forming a special bond. This type of bond could also be construed as advertisers meeting the need for prominence as explained by Fowles. Fowles provides insight to meeting the need for prominence as, “the need to be admired or respected” (Fowles, Para 54). Again, all of the appeals have been tied together in one ad in order to get the companies point across.

DKNY Jeans took a similar approach in advertising. Their ad for spring of 2012 focuses on an intimate relationship between a man and a woman on what looks to be a busy street in New York. She is blonde, petite, and has dark seductive eyes; while he is tall, rugged, and completely consumed by her beauty. DKNY appeals to the consumers need for prominence, sexual desire, and attention. Fowles states that tying all of these appeals together leads us into a full circle of advertising (Fowles, Para 78).

Fowles makes an excellent point that you cannot have one form of advertisement without another. Every ad that has been analyzed has had sex and attention closely tied together. Society has made it so that if you’re visually appealing you obtain the attention you desire. Attention is typically closely tied into prominence. Prominence as earlier defined by Fowles is the need to feel admired and respected. Sexual appeal, attention, and prominence are portrayed in every ad. Kilbourne’s thought that people tend to make relationships with their objects is brought to life. Models in these ads often look intimate. They have formed a type of bond with the clothing that they are wearing allowing them to feel sexy and to pull the attention they desire. This is the full circle effect that Fowles refers too. Any way an ad is analyzed sexual desire is involved. Remember, sex sells.

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Sex Sells in Advertising. (2017, Jan 09). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/sex-sells-in-advertising-essay

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