What is an advertisement? Is it a form of communication that allows others to spread their message? An advertisement can be used for many things. From trying to sell a product, to trying to capture an audience’s attention, to portraying the ideal man or woman, advertisements are merging all of those forms of communication into one. Throughout our world, we see many different print advertisements, commercials, and other forms of sales pitches; we learn what the current trends are in society.
For example, if there was an ad for the newest Reebok shoes, everyone would flock to the store to get them because they are the newest fads which must be acquired. However, if that shoe advertisement depicted a pretty woman wearing skimpy clothes wearing the shoes, there would be many more men going to the store rather than women. The advertisements in modern days seem to be much less sexist or chauvinist than their mid 1900s predecessors. Why is that? Well it is because people view others differently now; they view them equally.
The principle of gender not only defines who and what we are, it also defines the way we are seen through the eyes of others. The advertisers not only look to sell their product, but to capture a specific audience by depicting men or women (in most ads) in different settings and concepts. Each ad means something because the advertiser wants it to mean something. The advertiser often wants the ad to depict what a man or woman should wear, look like, and even behave like. After scouring the ad for a suitable advertisement, I finally found one that suited the topic I was going to be pursuing in this writing.
The ad, from a fashion designing company based in Italy, one first glance simply shows a man and a woman standing side-by-side. After a closer look, it can be seen that the hands of both the persons are tied to the wall or some type of fabric. However, the most surprising thing about this clothing fashion ad was the way that the man and the woman were posing. The man was posing in a stiff position, almost as if he was showing his dominance over others, while the woman has her hands above her head, almost as if she was submitting to someone.
From that pose, one can assume that the woman is being shown as a passive, submissive figure. From the pretense that the man is shown in, it can be assumed that the man is more demanding, dominant, and rigid. This did not surprise me however. Most advertisements seen in contemporary times are directed in such a way that the males are shown as superior. Advertisers, when dealing with both sexes, will try to position the men in such a way to show their dominance, as seen in my advertisement. This depiction of how a man looks like, often leads to young male children to distinguish what it is to be a man and woman.
In ads which only contain women, they are shown as nothing more than mere sexual objects. This form of advertisement serves to show women what they should look like and men how their women should look like. The women are simply depicted as objects of desire which are used hook potential customers. These advertisements teach us a lot about society and the way the media influences society. In the article “Beauty (Re)discovers the Male Body”, the male body as a public image (in advertising more specifically) is thoroughly discussed. Susan Bordo’s article starts out by explaining the male body in terms of a visual commercial image.
She says that when someone looks at her, she feels sexy; a feeling that many women get addicted to. Bordo goes on to explain men and women, in terms of differences in style. Conventionally, women are supposed to be objects for attention, and men are supposed to be the ones who are always in the course of action. Men, in modern times, are being portrayed as sexual images in public ads; often trying to attract women who are prone to gazing at the male photography. The media is hammering the fact that women want men who simply look strong and firm. Along with the media, the advertisers are changing course, as Bordo states.
The ads we see everyday all have something in common. To me, they all say that this product will make you more attractive, popular, and even well off in life. I definitely agree with Jean Kilbourne’s argument that these types of ads can harm the women more than help them. The advertisers should try to portray the actors in a way so that they can relate to the people and not manipulate the ideas that the customers have preset in them. As I was looking at the ads in the article, I noticed that most of them show the male as the dominant one; some even showing the male pointing a gun at the female.
A reason that Kilbourne could have done this is to explain to us that men are often good and not the dominant, power-hungry, carnivores all the time that people assume them to be. The section about the Calvin Klein and the mimicry of child pornography was interesting and sickening at the same time. The sick part of this section was the part about the boy in the basement who was being asked to take off his shirt. I thought that this act of exploiting children was totally unnecessary on Calvin Klein’s ad campaigns part.
The ad that I found depicts both the male and the female in a serene environment, where nothing seems to be moving. Everything, from the glasses to the person’s hands in the photo, seems to be tied to wall. What purpose does this serve? Does this show that the man can overpower any force or that the women must submit to any force? In this case, the ad implies that the women who wear these clothes will be in a sort of seductive, docile state. But then why would women want to buy these clothes? Well, if you think about it, the buyers don’t examine the ad in such detail.
The women just want to know if these clothes are fashionably favorable and trendy or not. If they are trendy, then the company has just made a sale, if not, then the advertiser will have to use different forms of communication to attract potential buyers. Ads are continuously trying to monetize off of the customers because that is what they are made to do. If the advertisers preach a negative message, then the clientele will follow that negative message and vice versa. Advertisements do not need to be raunchy or tasteless to get a message across, even though that those tactics work more proficiently.
A simple message such as, this is what a man should look and behave like and that this is what an ideal woman is like, will make the consumers even happier. This partially ties into psychology because the consumers like to see that they are similar to the actor/model in the Advertisement. So the advertisers try to give the consumers what exactly they all want. This often leads to the subtle hints that each ad contains and allows an individual to perceive the ad as they wish and not be forced to view differently as the majority perception.