Sex in Advertising has always been a major topic of discussion, whether it be what many claim as dominant advertising trends of men over women or simply the sexuality displayed in advertising. Coming from a European background I am not offended by the use of sexuality in most advertising campaigns, I like to think that I am mature enough to understand the context of most advertising campaigns; that is my personal opinion.
I recently came across a "Critical Analysis Of Advertisement" write up by a professor and wanted to share it with you and get your thoughts.
I've posted the two ads he talks about first and his comments directly below.
"The obvious problem here is sex in advertising. Sexual images in ads are not necessarily wrong, as long as what you’re selling is related to sex, such as lingerie or sex toys. This is an ad for Candie’s Fragrances for Men & Women. I have recently found out (but not from their ads) that they sell shoes. Fragrances have some distant connection with sex, so it’s not like using sex to sell spark plugs. But Candie’s has a whole line of ads that emphasize the sexual connection with fragrances too much.
This pair of ads has a special characteristic that goes beyond the usual “sex sells” (which occurs so often that it doesn’t need much critical commentary). One of the ads came from Maxxim, a magazine intended for an adult audience. The other came from a magazine intended for pre-teen and young teen girls. The image on the left (or top) is supposedly a “cleaned up” version for the magazine for girls. The one on the right (or bottom), intended for older audiences, has a couple of condom packages on the counter, and some of Sugar Ray’s sugar is showing where the girl is pulling down his towel. Through photo re-touching, the image on the left has no condom packages, and the towel is discretely covering Mark McGrath’s “plumber’s crack.”
To consider the image on the left a “cleaned up version” appropriate for young girls is ridiculous. Even with the condoms removed and the towel raised, this image is not at all appropriate for a young audience. It portrays a casual attitude toward sex between young people. This image will contribute some little bit to the broader cultural message that it’s OK for kids to have sex, and this in turn contributes to the teen pregnancy rate in the U.S., which is the highest in the developed world. (Hypocritically, Candie’s has publicized a program of stars speaking out to prevent teen pregnancy. It’s ironic that they associate themselves with this campaign against teen pregnancy but they removed the condoms from the image aimed at teens. The image is obviously sexual, so their ad seems to be encouraging teens to have sex without protection! Even encouraging the use of birth control is not good enough, because young to mid-teens are generally not mature enough to control sexual situations responsibly and consistently, and they are not emotionally or psychologically ready for sex.
This image also fits perfectly the dominant advertising trends of male and female images. The man’s face and attitude are fully visible. He looks frisky, domineering, demanding, and ready for fun. The female looks… Well, we don’t know what she looks like, which is typical. Her face is mostly covered by his shoulder and head (even though she is Jodi Lyn O’Keefe). The man is the centerpiece of this image. He is the one who is active. The woman is an object, an accessory to the man, a plaything. The position of her legs is highly sexual. The position of her arm is highly suggestive. She is meant to give the man pleasure; he is just being serviced. She might even be a hooker. In this context, she could almost be mistaken for a fixture on the bathroom countertop: a coin-operated device installed “for your sexual gratification.” At any rate, the image is set up to show a very specific kind of sexual relationship with very unequal roles for the man and the woman and without any serious consequences for sexual activity."