As years go by, the boundaries of what is considered culturally and socially acceptable in America are being continually stretched. The conservative attitudes that dictated what was proper for our parents and grandparents have faded to a general acceptance of risqué behaviors in the media. While ad agencies are constantly looking for creative new ways to market a product or idea, one truth that has more or less held steady in advertising since its emergence is the following: sex sells. But nowadays, we as consumers are largely desensitized to the provocative images we see in advertisements. What would have been considered pornography some fifty years ago is commonplace in many commercials that Americans see every single day. Look at Go Daddy commercials; if one of those aired in the 1950’s, there probably would have been riots in the streets. But with sexual content becoming less restricted over the years, such advertisements have become hugely popular and effective among consumers. Go Daddy and AXE are two brands that come to mind when thinking of such types of advertising seeing as both have had long-lasting and successful ad campaigns based off of sexually themed content. But more recently, it seems like companies are using sex as a cop out when they can’t come up with anything new or innovative. A great example would be the string of advertisements that Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. have been running to promote their new menu items.
Here, a gorgeous young lady in a bikini decides its time for her to wash her dirty pickup truck. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t also have time to seductively lather her body is soapy water, seductively lay on the hood of the truck, and of course, seductively eat a massive barbecue brisket burger from Hardee’s that she conveniently had lying around in the shed. Oh yeah, and then Paris Hilton (also in a bikini) finds her way into the shed to join her.
This one starts out in a similar fashion, but this time we are on a beach. Upon first glance, you would think this is a commercial for a vacation destination, or a swimsuit line, but you would be wrong. After lathering herself in tanning oil, the blonde bombshell lays out on her towel and reaches into her handy dandy Hardee’s bag for a fish sandwich. Now my eyesight isn’t the most keen, but I don’t think I saw a Hardee’s anywhere on that island during the initial aerial shot. After eating the first half of her sandwich, and seeming to enjoy it way too much, she decides she had better take her top off before continuing…
Now I’m not one to normally complain about women in swimwear, but these commercials are ri-goddam-diculous. Not to shame the clientele of Hardee’s, but I can’t imagine someone who eats there regularly having the physique of the women in these videos. While I suppose there may be some men out there who sincerely believe eating highly caloric sandwiches will increase their chances of meeting a Victoria’s Secret model, I think I speak for most men when I say I have no motivation to eat at Hardee’s after seeing these ads. After my inner fifth grader is done “Ooooh-ing” and “Ahhhh-ing,” I am left with the impression that the commercial I just watched was incredibly stupid. And I sure as hell can’t think of any way that these commercials would appeal to women. If anything, I could see it turning them off from the product due to what could be perceived as sexist and misogynist overtones.
I think these ads show how the “sexy girl in bikini holding (insert product name here)” strategy just doesn’t cut it like it used to. If sex is going to continue to sell in advertising, I sure hope they at least get a little more creative with it, because with sex being a not so taboo topic in America today, commercials like this are just boring.
Bradfield, C. (2014, September 1). The truth about advertising: Sex sells. DavidsonNews.net. Retrieved from http://davidsonnews.net/blog/2014/09/01/the-truth-about-advertising-sex-sells/