How to stop sex from selling.

We’ve all heard the phrase “sex sells” before. I find sex-driven advertising shallow and would like to see it done away with. Sex appeal has very little to do with the products being advertised and it’s uncreative. Most of it is very misogynistic. The most visible “sex sells” ads are aimed at men, and mostly uneducated, overly masculine men: the idealized, perfect model looking girls used in beer commercials. Axe commercials in general. Even fashion ads with a mostly female consumer base use highly sexualized women in their ads, which is probably one of the leading reasons as to why so many adolescent girls have low self-esteem and eating disorders. Sex driven advertising creates an unrealistic image of what women and men are supposed to look like and is something we’ve been exposed to since childhood.


I never really put much thought into how to rid the world of this type of advertising. I think it’ll happen in time. More women are getting involved in advertising and communications programs in general (just look around the SOC) and while the male domination of the corporate world is still plain to see, it’s finally being challenged and more and more women are penetrating it every year. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone but advertising execs defend the over-sexualized nature of the industry either (if anyone here has a good argument, please post. I’d be interested in having some dialogue on it). Sexualized advertising is almost universally viewed as a negative thing, so its fall from grace is inevitable.

I may have an idea that could speed up its extinction.  I follow Louis CK’s (okay, maybe his team deserves some credit for this too) page on Facebook, and awhile back, someone posted a picture of him shirtless on a billboard advertising his cologne. For those of you unfamiliar with Louis CK, he’s a middle aged, bald, fat white man who admits to being one of the most unattractive individuals on the face of the Earth. The ad turned out to be fake, sadly, but it still inspired me. Why don’t we start a campaign of sexualized ugly people? Make it comedic and make it a mockery of ads with attractive people. It would stand out and point out the absurdities in advertising. People would respond to it, even if it was something along the lines of “GROSS! I CAN’T BELIEVE THEY PUT A HALF-NAKED FAT GUY ON A BUDWEISER COMMERCIAL!” it would certainly raise awareness for the company. It’s also a far more accurate representation of who drinks Budweiser. It would target a small demographic and eventually, people would become sick of it and it’d die out, but goshdarnit, it might take down the entire concept of “sex sells” with it.

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Ghobadi , Amanda. “Sexism Sells: The Misogynistic Depiction of Women in Advertising.” The Womens Institute for Freedom of the Press. Loyola Marymount University, 20 Oct. 2013. Web. 7 Feb. 2014. <http://commons.marymount.edu/ghobadiwifp/2013/10/20/sexism-sells-the-misogynistic-depiction-of-women-in-advertising/&gt;.

Hess, Amanda. “How Men’s Magazines Sell Masculinity to Young, Low-Income Men.” Slate Magazine. Slate Magazine, 1 Mar. 2013. Web. 7 Feb. 2014. <http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2013/03/01/advertising_masculinity_why_ads_in_magazines_like_playboy_depict_men_as.html&gt;.

2 thoughts on “How to stop sex from selling.

  1. While I think this advertisement (although unpublished) is hilarious, I do not know how effective this type would be . When I look at this advertisement, the last thing I think is “Oh, I want my boyfriend to smell like him!” I think that people understand that advertisements are exaggerations of the ideal consumer, while I’m not saying it is correct- it does drive sales and gives individuals a reason to enjoy or identify with the brand. Perhaps it doesn’t need to be so extreme, but could look at the Aerie “real” campaign for inspiration!

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