Dear reader, it seems the web is slowly slipping over the edge...of reason. We wrote about the new Dove ads on Sunday, but more information on the titillating attempt of advertisers to use women undressed or undressing to reach the women's market have come our way, so we thought we would share them with you.
At the Ottawa Citizen, reporter Misty Harris writes, "Provocative ads target female consumers," citing Victoria's Secret, the Gap, and Dove for their prurient (our term, not Misty's) use of women, partially dressed women, in their interactive online ads. (the link may not be active for long -- check it out ASAP!)
Misty quotes yours truly (in our other form, aka Yvonne) as an expert on marketing to women online, saying that to Gen X and Gen Y girls, these interactive games might be fun. We also said that the female form has been used to sell everything from cadillacs to canteens, so this is really nothing new. The article is a good read with quotes from other marketing experts and input from the folks at Victoria's Secret and Dove, adding their two cents worth.
To move on, we offer this article from Adage, "Ad Week Breast Ad Sparks Industry Controversy." Apparently, some folks have a problem with women's breasts -- being used as a come-on in advertising. The article says, "Jean Kilbourne, a filmmaker and author who focuses on how women are portrayed in advertising, said: “How unbelievable that people in the vanguard of advertising would do that. It’s unbelievably cliche. It’s moronic and insulting.”
The ad, for those who cannot click through, shows a "tightly cropped shot of a woman’s chest in a black bustier. Positioned directly beneath the women’s bust are the words: “Advertising: We All Do It.” " Naturally, this is not Olive Oil, or Twiggy, or even Betty Boop (well, okay, it could be Betty Boop)...which may be where the ire comes from. Obviously, the ad required a well-endowed model, or computer enhancement. Whatever.
Jane would like to add our voice to the dismayed reactions of others...we would like to call this ad "moronic and insulting." But, we can't. We actually don't see a whole lot to cry about. If we are to call this kind of advertising moronic and insulting, then what do we call the entire line of Victoria's Secret lingerie? What do we call the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue? What do we call the old Sear's catalog that so many young boys drooled over, hiding in their closets with a flashlight?? And why do we put up with a chain restaurant called Hooters?
We call it advertising. We call it recognizing that women and men, alike, consider the human body fair game when it comes to getting attention. That more women than men are unclothed or scantily clad in many ads, is testament to the collective minds of the consumer, not the advertising agency.
It pains Jane to admit it...but, it's true. If we, the consumers, didn't encourage such advertising (by purchasing the products in them), the ads (and Hooters) would go away.
Better to focus our attention on areas that really need changing -- such as women in sports. According to this article in the Newsroom at USC.edu, "Coverage of Women's Sports at Standstill," coverage of women's athletic events lags far behind men's. This quote says it all, "The growth of women's sports...is really not reflected in the mainstream electronic media news coverage of sport. It's really an almost continuous cacophony of men's voices telling us about men's sports." So says Michael Messner, professor of sociology and gender studies at USC.
The article also complains about the sexualization of women in the little coverage they do get...which kind of brings us full circle: women are conceptualized for their sexuality, both on TV, in the movies, and on the Internet. The underlying reality is this: if the trend we're noticing continues, MEN will be the ones complaining about being objectified ten years down the road.
We salute Mia Hamm...who takes her sport (soccer) seriously, and -- to our knowledge -- has never been objectified but might, maybe, shop online for...lingerie.
Jane will be watching. In the meantime, we accept that sex sells. That the female form is considered attractive enough to grab the attention of both men and women, and that the best way to turn things around is not by complaining, it's by keeping our purses and wallets closed.
What's not to like about that?