<![CDATA[Hot Girl Agency - Blog]]>Fri, 31 May 2024 02:25:08 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[MSU experts weigh in - Sexuality in Advertising]]>Wed, 28 Feb 2024 07:04:54 GMThttp://hotgirlagency.com/blog/msu-experts-weigh-in-sexuality-in-advertising
In 1871, Pearl Tobacco made waves when they debuted their new product's packaging: a lightly draped maiden floating above the ocean, her naked torso exposed under the company’s logo. 
The suggestive imagery brought attention to the brand, increasing tobacco sales and making the company one of the first to embrace the concept of "sex sells" – using sexually suggestive images, videos or insinuations to market a product or brand.

​Over the years "sexual" marketing became more widespread, starting with tobacco companies but slowly moving on to others like Woodbury Soap, who released an ad in 1926 featuring a man and woman embracing above the words, "a skin you love to touch." And by the 21st century, practically every industry incorporated sex into their brand, using suggestive ads to promote things from Samsung Laptops to Calvin Klein Jeans. 

While many may think that sexually suggestive ads would have gone down the drain in light of social issues like the #MeToo Movement, it turns out the concept is still very much alive ... it’s just taken on a new form. 

Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and journalism Professor Esther Thorson said that due to advertising becoming more personalized through social media, only the people who want to see sexual ads will encounter them frequently.

"Advertising has changed greatly because television, newspapers, radio – most of them have lost their advertising dollars," Thorson said. "On the internet, most of what you get is personalized advertising, so they, you know, look at all your data and they decide what you want."

Thorson said someone who frequents sex sites, for example, or follows people on social media with sexually suggestive content will most likely be exposed to sexual advertising as advertisers continue to manipulate social media algorithms.

​Is there still the idea that sex sells? Absolutely, Thorson said.

"Some people don’t see them, but the people that it’s really going to work with, they do see them a lot," she said. "But it has taken a form where it is a little bit more underground to the general public."

As years have gone on, Thorson said, sexual mores have changed, also contributing to differences seen in sexual advertising. While the concept of sex sells in the "olden days" may have conjured images of "scantily clad women" acting in a "sexy fashion," now, these images include men and women.

"Sex sells is much less gender-specific than it used to be," Thorson said. "It doesn't just have to mean women anymore, it can mean anybody."
Because of the growing societal acceptance of the LGBTQIA+ community, she said, sex appeal has become more "democratized" and now takes on various forms in advertising.

Creative advertising junior Kassandra Corrujedo said she has recently seen ads with both men and women being portrayed in a sexual manner, more specifically for underwear and lingerie brands. 

She referenced the apparel company Calvin Klein as having both men and women pose for their underwear campaigns, as well as Kim Kardashian's shapewear brand Skims, which has ad campaigns featuring famous athletes and celebrities modeling the brand.

When it comes to sex appeal in advertisements, Corrujedo said she feels that times have changed and there is more gender equality within the advertisement industry. 

"I feel like back then, it used to be more towards women promoting men and women being sexualized ... and I feel like it’s less now because it’s more controversial and definitely has raised eyebrows throughout the advertising industry with whether it is ethical or not," she said.

Advertising and public relations Assistant Professor Edward Timke said sex selling really changes depending on where you are. 

"The idea of sexuality and sex is very culturally specific," Timke said. "So how we think and feel about that in the U.S. is different in other parts of the world."

He brought up an example of how in the United Kingdom, there are regulations around advertisements stereotyping based on gender, while in the U.S., advertisements are largely self-regulated. 

"We're kind of in a 'Wild West' in some ways," Timke said. 

Timke said following the #MeToo movement, which was prominent in 2017 and circled sexual harassment of women in the workplace, advertisers became more cautious about the way they portrayed sexuality in ads. 

"When there is representation of sex, especially when it's erring on the side of objectification in harmful ways, people are pushing back against it and people have been doing that for decades," Timke said. "Not to say that it’s new, but I think with the rise of #MeToo and discussion around sexual harassment, brands and advertisers have been on call."

Timke brought up Madonna Badger, founder and CEO of the Badger and Winters advertising firm, who launched a campaign in 2016 called "#WomenNotObjects." The campaign seeks to end the objectification of women in advertising campaigns; it grew in popularity when Badger anonymously uploaded a video to YouTube where she Googles, "objectification of women," only to find ads displaying troubling portrayals of women. 

Badger’s campaign helped to shine a light on the difference between sexual expression vs. objectification, changing the way advertisers approached 'sex sells.'

"When it comes to objectification, that is where brands are staying shy from," Timke said. "It's not that people are completely against sex sells – there can be sexual innuendo as long as it’s playful ... then it’s different from the sex selling we used to see."

When it comes to the impact sexual advertising has, Thorson said that it can be harmful when it comes to self-image. 

Although there hasn't been much research done on the psychological impact itself, she said, it is evident that the images sexual ads create for adolescents make it hard for them to maintain self esteem, as these campaigns often depict unattainable beauty standards. 

"If you don’t fit the image, you start to think you can only attract a partner if you look and act like that, (and) that kind of limits your horizons," Thorson said. 

When asked if she thinks sexual advertising will ever come to an end, Thorson said the concept is here to stay but will evolve as the times change. 

​"We know from evolutionary psychology, the huge driver of human behavior is sex," Thorson said. "Human drive is toward sexual behavior and reproduction, so my guess is it will continue to be with us. But, as I said, it won’t just mean women – it will mean everybody."]]>