We're used to hearing how sex sells and we're used to seeing images of sexuality used in advertising in order to sell products to us. On many occassions when I log into social networking sites such as Linked In I am presented with images young women in bikinis on my feed. They're usually stood next to completely unrelated products in order to advertise them. Along with these posts is normally a barrage of comments from people either completely appauled, saying it's degrading, or in full support, saying it's harmless fun. I usually just roll my eyes and move on, but it got me thinking about the advertising industry in general and what messages we convey in our society. Does sex always sell? I wondered what would be the response if I used half naked men to sell my own products - would this have the same effect?
Without further ado, I present you with Bruce, Stephan and Lance (or stock images 1-3 if you want to totally depersonalise them... how degrading.).
And then I posted this on Linked-In...
This post has gone a bit viral on Linked-In as I had hoped, and you could argue that that in itself is proof that sex sells. But in this instance, it's not the sex that's selling, it's the context of scantily clad men. The fact that this would rarely happen in reality is what makes it funny, and the humour has caused people to spread it. Had I used a women this would not have been the case - not because of humour or using something out of context at least.
So, back to Bruce, Stephan and Lance - they're cool about the shoot. They think it's empowering holding up flowers. They help me sell my work. What's the problem?
I'm not going to answer that, but present you with some questions instead, and at the end it would be great to hear your thoughts on sex and advertising...
1. Why isn't it hilariously funny to share pictures of women in a bikinis advertising unrelated products such as motor bikes?
2. Is it only men that find bodies attractive? (erm, no!). So, why do we mainly use women's bodies to sell stuff? What does this say about our culture and the attitudes to sexuality?
3. If I were to genuinely use half naked male models to sell my work, would this make me come across as more or less professional? Regardless of whether we like the images, do we want to work with the type of people who share them?
4. What would half naked men say about the quality of my work if I were to continually present my work in this way?
5. What messages would this give in terms of the way I treat people in business?
6. What if women became the main decision makers and business leaders in society instead of men, influencing the advertising industry? Would anything change?
7. What if roles reversed and there was a considerable decrease in scantily clad women, and a huge increase in male nakedness used in advertising? Would men think it unfair? Would they say they were being exploited?
I'd be interested to know your thoughts
Ooh, what a lovely pear.