Advertising is a successful marketing strategy that helps bring attention to a product. Without advertisement, the world we live in would not fully function. Think about it. Ads allow people to find jobs on a daily basis, when reading newspaper individuals often pay attention to the ads printed in the newspapers in order to learn about new employment opportunities. Ads that are seen all over Times Square is what pulls people in to a product and persuades them to buy that particular product, whether it is an pair of jeans, a watch or a piano. In class, when discussing different clothing ads, the Calvin Klein brand was pinpointed due to the sexual images that the ads often posses. Many people are constantly outraged by the images of these ads, and although I agree that they are a little too racy, the fact that sex sells cannot be denied when looking at the statistics of how well these companies are doing. When researching additional information about Calvin Klein ads, I came across an article published by ABC news. The article discussed the controversy surrounding the ads, and the negative message that it sends to young adults. ABC news stated that they reached out to the Calvin Klein corporation and did not receive an answer, but states that the company previously addressed the issue by stating that their ads were solely based on them wanting to “create a very sexy campaign that speaks to our targeted demographic.” When reading this comment, I believe that the targeted demographic that the company speaks of is indeed adolescents and young adults. People that fall into those particular age groups are much more open to sexuality than those that are older than them. I believe that advertisements are somewhat responsible for the acceptance that these people have about sexual images, racism and other societal issues. Here is the link to the article.
In the article, Beauty and the Beast of Advertising, Kilbourne accurately explains the relationship between gender roles and advertisements by stating, “Advertising images do not cause these problems, but they contribute to them by creating a climate in which the marketing of women’s bodies – the sexual sell and dismemberment, distorted body image ideal and children as sex objects – is seen as acceptable.” In Kilbourne’s approach, she doesn’t aim to solely blame ads that are published for all to see, but instead she blames them for only adding to issues that have already existed for years. The fact that women are already seen as sexual objects is something that many people already have negative views on, but when ads are constantly reinforcing these images and putting messages into society as if it is okay, than the problem only continues to get worse. I agree with Kilbourne due to the fact that societal issues that have been around for centuries aren’t simply going to disappear, but if society continues to create ads, television shows or movies that support negative perceptions of men and women, how will the issue ever get resolved? Young adults growing up will see images that exploit women and began to believe that this is how they should think and also began to think that this how women should be treated.
Subliminal advertising also comes into play when discussing issues such as racism, sexism and power hierarchies found in so many of these advertisements. Subliminal advertising is the act of placing fleeting or hidden images in commercial content in the hopes that viewers will process them unconsciously. By doing so, people view ads and are unaware of the sexual, racial (etc) message that they are being exposed to. Many people argue that subliminal advertisements have no effect on an individual thought process, but others believe that ads that display blatant sexual or racial content definitely play a major role in shaping the minds of many people.
Examples of subliminal advertising with sexual intent:
Whether people like it or not, advertisements have the ability to shape, persuade, and control the minds of many. Think about it, would advertisers make an ad that they felt wouldn’t have an effect on society? Would they create an ad with the intent to not get people to agree with, or like the product that they are advertising? I think not. These advertisers create ads that they know will have an impact on society, whether it is a negative or positive one. On the contrary, there are indeed many examples of positive advertisements. There are advertisements that challenge the popular beliefs of society, and in the article “Constructed Bodies, Deconstructing Ads: Sexism in Advertising,” Anthony Cortese discusses the power that advertisements have in regards to challenging and informing society of alternatives to images or messages being presented to society by the media. Society hardly ever thinks to challenge what is being presented to us. We seemed to be conditioned to listen and not question. When seeing images that we may not agree with, we do not automatically challenge whatever it is that the ad states…instead we accept it for what it is.
An alternative path for the industry can consist of positive advertisements being made. Ads that focus on the bringing society together and promoting positive change can help make an impact on the world and change the minds of people who are only use to seeing ads that promote sex, racism, drug use etc. Not only should the creation of positive ads take place, but also finding a way to increase integrity within the industry can serve as a big help the problem. People that create these ads are regular human beings, meaning that they have the same emotions and feelings that we all have. What is missing in some of these people is integrity. Knowing that you have to go home and sleep peacefully at night after working on an ad that promotes the very thing that society is struggling to diminish is something that the creators of these ads should think about. If they are being paid as much money to create positive ads, rather than negative ones, than the choice should be simple.
Here’s a link to a writing piece that discusses issues such as racism being illustrated through advertisements
Here is the link to a wordpress blog that entitled “Sex Shouldn’t Sell” that discusses sex and ads.