Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sex and Advertising...

My sister and I got on the subject of how many companies use "sex" to reach consumers. Watching tv shows, it seems like you can't go through a commercial break without being plagued by women in scantily clad clothing. The sad thing is... I don't really notice it anymore, nor does it bother me. Have I become desensitized?
A fairly common assumption is that sex is used to sell sex-related products, right? Like perfume, clothing, or even jewelry. But Cereal?
I didn't believe it myself until I saw this ad for shredded wheat. Doesn't it make you want to go out and buy some wholesome goodness? Post is obviously seeking to empower women by saying “you don’t need men to satisfy your urges,” whatever those urges may be. Personally, I'd rather choose my husband over shredded wheat any day, but maybe I'm just old fashioned.
I guess my question would be- if we banned everything that uses sex to reel in consumers, would we basically be forced to survive on clothes we sew ourselves and food we grow in our garden? Life has become so magnetized around ideas that most would consider harmful to our family values? How do we fix it?
My suggestion would be to not necessarily ban the product, company, people, etc- but to confront and address it. Sometimes, a passive attitude is not always the best. In my college sorority, we often had mixers with the themes of: pimps and hoes, or secs and execs. All sexual in nature. The purpose of these mixers was to have women dress up in a sexual capacity. A few women decided to get together, and promote conversation on the image and position of collegiate women. I found it to be very powerful, creating a lasting impact on the student body.
Although I do not agree with the strong sexual advances used by many companies to market campaigns, etc. I DO agree with the fact that you can't change a social system unless you first talk about it and understand it. Advertising companies need to set positive examples. It’s a team effort. You show us the right things and we’ll do the right thing.


Meghann said...

I agree. Obviously, choosing to not purchase from a company that uses forms of advertising you are not comfortable with is perfectly ok. I have done this myself. But the effect is limited or negated if nothing is said.
There is also a huge difference in "suggestion" and blatant sexualness. If I were to pick up a Cosmo magazine, I would expect many of the advertisements to be very sexually suggestive. I would be ok with advertisements there that I would not be ok with during afternoon television (prime kid viewing time). But wherever the ad is placed/aired there is still a line that should not be crossed. (it is the difference btwn using sexiness to advertise and demeaning women/turning them into objects in order to make a point.)

Jilly said...

Well said! I totally agree! Maybe talking about this subject would also open the door to talking about what message we're "really" sending to our daughters and young women about what our role is in society, or how we should look, feel, act, etc... :)