Every single day, millions of people are exposed to hundreds ofadverts knowingly and unknowingly. These adverts, which are mainlycreated by business entities, are aimed at attaining certain goals.How individuals react to different adverts also varies widely mainlydependent on preexisting knowledge, gender, and culture among otherinfluences. Fowles developed a model that identifies 15 types ofemotional appeals that influence how individuals respond to adverts.In the case of advertising women clothing, the issue of appearanceand sexual appeal take center stage though culture and moral valuesplay a huge role how adverts seek to appeal to audiences.
To present this argument, four adverts are examined. The first printad by American Apparel as shown in image A features a half dressedwoman in a sexual pose. The woman dressed in full body underwearseems to be lying on her back in bed and taking a sexually suggestiveposition with her legs wide open accompanied by the caption “nowopen” in large bold print. The second ad as shown in image B is byAustralian and UK apparel retailer, Whisper. The print ad depicts theimage of smartly dressed with a superimposed caption that reads“business women who dress in blouses, miniskirts, stockings andheels are sexy.”
The third image (C) shows a print ad from the 1930’s by clothesretailer Debenham and Freebody. This advert, by virtue of its timeperiod, is rather conservative. The woman shown in the ad is fullycovered. The accompanying text in the ad lays more emphasis on thequality, functionality, fashion as well as price and the availabilityof the garments. The fourth ad is an online video ad by Gucci thattakes a different approach as it uses only images of models takingdifferent poses in different outfits.
The conception of all these adverts can be examined from differentperspectives. From the first two, the issue of sex dominates themessage though the pose and dressing of the featured woman in thesecond ad cannot be argued to be sexually explicit as very littleskin is visible. Clearly, sex is treated in a casual manner by thetwo ads and matters of female sexuality can be explored and aremorally acceptable to a certain level. According to Alexander,Crompton and Shrubsole (15), adverts reflect the moral and ethicalvalues of a society.
In the first adfrom American Apparel, the sexual connotation in the ad can be arguedto mirror cultural value of the modern world. Given that the ad wasfirst published in 2014, then it can be argued that the ad mirrorsAmerican moral values and attitudes towards sexuality. This is to saythat sexual objectification of women is largely acceptable and so isnudity. An empirical observation on the media and communities clearlyconfirms this claim of sexual objectification and nudity is takenrather casually.
Similarly, the ad from Whisper also published in the last two yearsalso targets sex appeal. The advert encourages women to embrace theirplace as sexual objects. The advert emphasizes the fact women whodress in a certain way have the most sex appeal. Ironically, theadvert seems to be targeted at career women and thus the advert wouldbe better suited at highlighting key aspects relevant to career womensuch as looking professional and presentable when they dress in acertain way. However, by targeting ‘business women’, the ad seeksto appeal to the need to achieve. Women who feel that they need toattain that corporate and professional image are likely to identifywith the ad and the suggested way of dressing.
Looking at the 1930’s Debenhan and Freebody ad, the type of appealand moral aspects mirrored by the ad vary widely. The ad responds tothe conservative cultural values of this time period. The ladyfeatured in this ad is well covered up and not too much skin is ondisplay. Thus based, on the claims made by Alexander, Crompton andShrubsole (15), then the society of the 1930s viewed theattractiveness of women differently. Showing too much skin such asabove the knee was not acceptable and women who observed suchrequirements would be considered beautiful. Furthermore, given thatthe advert emphasizes more on quality, it seeks to appeal to theemotional need for prominence and aesthetic sensations. Byhighlighting the material and the design of the garments advertised,then the intended wearers are likely to feel important and beautifulat the same time.
The online video advert by Gucci for the 2012 summer/Spring wear alsohas an interesting way of mirroring society and appealing toaudiences. The ad features extra slim and tall models with flawlessskin. The ad thus glorifies slim bodies in women and conveys themessage that women only look good if they resemble the featuredmodels. This way the ad appeals to aesthetic sensations and mainly towomen to desire to feel beautiful mainly by being slim and tall sameas the models and dressing the same.
Eisenbruch, Simmons and Roney (2) explain a possible variation of theappeals suggested by Fowles along the female sexual cycle. Through astudy involving 46 female participants drawn from California, theauthors relied on frequent hormone sampling to examine how theirovarian hormones influenced their mating behavior and by extensionchoice of clothing. Data was analyzed using a mixed regression modeland it was revealed that women were more likely to dress in brightcolors such as red colors during their fertile window over 48 days ofobservation. This indicates that women are more likely to enhancetheir attractiveness and be more attracted by the emotional appeal ofthe need for sex which impacts how they dress and react to adverts onwomen clothing.
Therefore, from looking at the four adverts above, differentemotional appeals are employed by advertisers. Aesthetic and sexualappeal take dominate the approach used in advertising women clothingthough moral and ethical orientation also affect reactions. At apersonal level, the biological cycle of a woman may influence howthey react to adverts.
Alexander, Cromptonand Guy Shrubsole, Think of me as Evil? Opening the Ethical Debatesin
Advertising. 2011. Web.<http://valuesandframes.org/download/reports/Think%20Of%20Me%20As%20Evil%20-%20PIRC-WWF%20Oct%202011.pdf>
Debenham andFreebody. Web.
Eisenbruch1, Adar,Zachary Simmons and James Roney, Lady in Red: Hormonal Predictors of
Women’s ClothingChoices. Psychological science. 2015.
Fowles, Jib,“Advertising’s fifteen appeals” Common Culture. New York: Sage.2004.
Whisper advert. Web.