In our culture, lingerie and sex go hand-in-hand. That’s largely how it’s advertised, and sexy lingerie (i.e. anything with cutouts, a lot of lace, or some sheerness) is something that a lot of people only buy if it’s going to be used for its intended purpose. I’ve already been around the block with this one in my post about Lingerie and Sexuality, so forgive me if I sound a bit like a broken record.
This post isn’t about that, though- it’s more like a part II. Since I believe that lingerie is about a lot more than a frisky evening, I hate companies who perpetuate it as such. Cheap advertising campaigns like these bother me. It’s difficult to see something I’m passionate about being smeared across the media as ‘dirty’ and ‘inappropriate’ or some as some weird sex fantasy.
First up on the docket: American Apparel
They’ve received heat for their racy photos before, and I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about it in the future. American Apparel is no stranger to blatantly sexual images or being in the centre of controversy- they seem to be indifferent about such, plastering barely-legal looking models in weirdly sexual poses all over their ad campaigns and stores.
They seem to operate off the idea that “any press is good press”, and they don’t seem to be slowing down these kinds of things any time soon. Now, here’s why I hate it: I’m all for “if you don’t like it, don’t shop there”, but they’re creating this idea of not only that only thin and tan is sexy, but that lingerie equates to bedroom time. Aesthetically speaking, American Apparel has some solid pieces working for them. Body suits, boyish, androgynous pieces that would look really great with a cozy hoodie and some knee-high socks. There are a lot of other ways to advertise their products, but instead, AA goes straight for the cheap hits. Racy, controversial, misogynistic, and generally offensive photos that don’t do much to help the idea that lingerie equals sex.
Next up on the chopping block is a brand favorite of mine, Claudette.
Claudette got a lot of heat for this ad. It’s the first full-bust brand to ever use a man in a photo, and to do so in such a suggestive manner really upset some people. If I’m being honest here, I like this photo. I think it’s hot. It’s got the right amount of sensuality and isn’t blatantly sexual- it still leaves some to the imagination, and I like that. However, when you advertise a product like this, you need to be careful. This ad no longer says “I’m a fun-loving bra that will support you and make you feel good about yourself!” It now says, “Let’s take that thing off and let me hold them for you.”
That’s all fine and well, but you really need to be aware of your market when you release an ad like this. Now, a single ad out of ten is fine, but once there’s ten ads all like this one, or even more sexy, one after the other, the campaign is no longer about the lingerie- it’s about the sex behind it. And if you’ve got a really great product like Claudette does, you’re selling it short by hiding it behind some cheap shots that don’t tell me much about the idea behind the product itself.
But does It Work?
Quite obviously, it does. Numbers don’t lie- but what is the twisted fascination with sex? Is it such a unique scene that it drives us to spend billions on sex-advertised products every year? Can we not tear our eyes away from these ads for so long that we feel like we should buy the product? What is the idea being sold to us through these ads?
1. Sex gets attention. It’ an easy way to get someone’s eyes onto you ad. To shock someone is to make someone remember your product, and a lot of companies only have seconds to do so- American Apparel’s ads are starting to make a bit more sense.
2. Nobody remembers the companies who advertise a nice handbag on a black drop sheet, but everyone remembers a nice handbag on top of a naked model. They may not like it, they may be offended by it, but sure as hell will remember it. It’s an easy way to get attention from the media, and clearly, it’s working. Shock-value is like gold in the marketing world.
That’s why we’ll never know if anything besides sex will sell as well. It’s working too well for the companies for them to change their branding. For as long as people will keep buying the products, sex will keep selling. We may never know how well a product will sell without the sex portrayed behind it.
Lingerie companies that don’t use sex to sell, bravo. They keep the attention on the lingerie rather than the sex, and I applaud them for it. Lingerie is about more than sex, and I feel that the companies who don’t use sex to sell ‘get’ that.
Do you agree? Does sex sell, or does it not? What do you think of the ads above? Would you buy the products, or would you make a point of not?
Thank you for reading, my lovelies, and until next time,
P.S. Put your hand up if you never want to read or hear the word ‘sex’ again. *Raises hand*.