Advertisers: Wake Up And Smell The Sex

Ad Induced Hotness?

Writing in the Hendersonville News, Susan Hanley Lane shares her feelings regarding a racy Skechers billboard she saw when she was with her father in law as he was getting haircut. Noting the odd juxtaposition of the two figures on the billboard having simulated sex, advertising-style, with the presence of her father in law and two small girls playing outside near the board, Susan makes a convincingly cogent argument that, perhaps, we've taken this sex sells thing a bit too far.

She notes the walled garden that used to be called childhood has collapsed and has been replaced, at least for girls, by girlhood. In other words, kids aren't kids anymore but have, because of the continual presence of adult imagery, become young hotties in training. When you roll it up like that, it does certainly feel odd that young kids are routinely exposed to this sort of imagery. Many, including myself, have said, "Oh, just don't look. Turn the TV off. Monitor what your kids read and what they do online." Well, sure. That's all good but it's also like trying to juggle 12 tons of Jello while riding a unicycle. It's not possible. Kids are resourceful. If they want to see or do something, they'll find a way around parental blockage. Acknowledging that, one could argue if racy imagery that is now commonplace wasn't there in the first place, kids who circumvent so called blockage would find nothing more that a fully clothed Betty Crocker staring back at them.

There's really no answer to this conundrum. After all, inherently, there's absolutely nothing wrong with sex. It's natural. It's healthy. It's normal. Everyone does it. However, for one to successfully navigate the murky waters of that form of human engagement, one must possess a certain degree of wisdom achieved only through age, education and experience. Try telling a 13 year old girl, today, she doesn't need to wear a thong, a midriff-baring top and do-me shoes while dancing in front of a webcam. Try telling a 13 year old boy he shouldn't drop everything he's doing and dive right into all that.

It's not sexual desire or sexual attractiveness that's any different than it was 20, 50, 100 years ago. It's that it's in our face 24/7. In 1900, a guy might go months without ever seeing an image of a woman. In the eighties, Madonna wore more clothes that today's average highschool sophomore. There's no turning back the clock to Puritanical times nor are we advocating that. Perhaps, what's needed is a bit more thoughtful consideration during the development of marketing campaigns as to the effect sexually laced advertising (and yes, it's not entirely advertising's fault but we can't solve all the world's problems here) imagery has on young, ill-prepared minds.

Even as I, along with many others may enjoy the Paris Hilton Carl's, Jr. sex-with-a-Bentley ad or the disrobing hotties of Virtual Bartender or the Christina Aguilera Skechers nurse-hottie ads or American Apparel barely-legal catalog models or any other of the thousands of racy, sexually charged images surrounding us, I'm well over the age of 18. Many who view these images are not. Think about that.

by Steve Hall    Jun- 7-05   Click to Comment   
Topic: Opinion   

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She notes the walled garden that used to be called childhood has collapsed and has been replaced, at least for girls...

While that may be true, it's hardly a case of just girls losing their innocence. Calvin Klein ads of oiled, muscled men in their underpants on giant billboards in Time Square (just to name one example) is the same thing and you've got to wonder how that affects boys.

Posted by: Paolo on June 7, 2005 12:34 PM

Now here's the funny thing. I don't care what Skechers does, sex, graffiti, blogs, limited editions, that is a brand that can never be hip. Sure it will sell all day like Candies in malls across America but it can never really be cool. I can even go on a limb and say I don't even think ANIMAL could help them ROAR


Posted by: bucky on June 7, 2005 12:43 PM

Sexually charged ads are like bathroom humor -- designed to appeal to basic and base instincts. It goes for the "lowest common denominator" and does not require thought or reflection. For that reason, it can be very effective -- but only for those that will allow themselevs to be so led and influenced. If we as a culture demand more from advertisers, they will HAVE to deliver. Just as we (with our pocketbooks) demanded more from the US automakers years ago - and they had to deliver or lose ALL marketshare to imports. Advertisers do what they do to get publicity and make money. If we as the public "pull the plug" -- they will get the message very very quickly.

Posted by: Anthony on June 7, 2005 1:43 PM

re: the calvin klein ads. I read a book a couple years ago called the Adonis Complex. it was all about how boys have their own versions of image disorders, how boys have become anorectic and how they view steroids as a fast-and-easy way of bulking up their bodies to look like the guys in those ads. Good read; makes me glad I don't have kids.

Posted by: JoAnna on June 7, 2005 1:57 PM

Buckymeister is right. Sketchers are about as cool as Michael Dell trying to dance. Gimmee my Adidas any day. Also found this cool new footwear company:

On the sex sells point....this is capitalism folks. The two other choices are communism or theocracy, neither of which has zee drinkies, zee ladies, zee fruity sex.

Posted by: Mcthingy2 on June 7, 2005 1:58 PM

Society does not demand anything upon itself. The ad media has another lame excuse to dump their perverted imagination to which they refer to as crativity.

Well, I need to smell good, but why do I need to see a woman's behind to buy a perfume.

Posted by: Chris on June 7, 2005 4:53 PM

I could talk about this subject all day and night -- but here's the thing: there is something more than just sex that stops people in their tracks. That thing is honesty. Sure, sex sells -- but there are other opportunities to get to the base of what motivates the masses. Honesty is lacking in our culture and honesty gets to the core of being human. Communication and advertising raises eyebrows and gets attention when using sex -- but it's honesty and humanity that really affects a person's relationship to a brand. That's where I think most advertisers are missing the boat. My two cents.

Posted by: Lu on June 7, 2005 5:25 PM

Gimme a break guys. Sex has sold for centuries and rightly so, because we're all animals with basic instincts. As for the whole 'too young' thing that you seem to post an awful lot about--remember a song in the 50's called 'sweet sixteen'? Same thing. Girls hit puberty after 13, and there's nothing they can see in an ad that they're not already thinking about. Exploitative? Yes. But then again, so is everything in a capitalist system. Don't worry, society isn't disintigrating. It isn't going anywhere it hasn't been before in the last several thousand years.

Posted by: Deggorio on June 10, 2005 4:53 PM

isn't that the tree Bob Fosse cavorts through in "La Petite Prince?"

Posted by: Ben Popken on June 11, 2005 2:03 PM

hi, i saw ur pics, and i was pls so i like 2 no u pls. i have more 2 say but i have no time pls send back so we can talk

Posted by: rukky on December 2, 2006 6:55 AM

bonjour ami merci beaucoup.

Posted by: patchame on December 7, 2006 8:17 AM

well im sorry but she is sexy as h311 and i wouldnt mind seeing her nude

Posted by: joe guy on March 31, 2007 3:39 PM