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Advertising and Sex

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Let's prove that...

Sex, indecency, violence, danger, disaster and death. These are topics that catch the eye of the average person. They catch our attention because they interesting subjects. They intrigue us. They spark our curiosity. They also raise a lot of controversy. Companies will use these words in their advertising to grasp the attention of all viewers. In this day in age advertisers will stop at nothing to get an edge on their competitor and will use such topics as sex and death to get ahead. Today, in this paper I will using the example of sex in advertising to portray this controversial area and exploit it's problem areas. Sex and indecency are very mature areas and should not be used loosely. In today's society almost anything goes. This should not hold true for certain areas; like sex. I intend to use many examples of sex in advertising and various studies to show how this strategy is not only over used, but is improperly used and viewable to all consumers, including young children. The advertising industry has taken a low blow at society and needs to focus their attentions on preserving human decency and uphold a higher standard of moral concern.

What are we really dealing with here?

As time grows older, the acceptance of more and more ideals is growing by the second. Not only ten years ago were standards different. I remember when girls couldn't wear shorts that came higher than four finger widths above their knees to school. Today this standard is not only unheard of, but laughed at. Foul language on television is more accepted. Video games are more graphic than ever before and advertisements are using the idea of sex or sexuality to sell products to all ages (including video games: they now have nudity in video games). Do we really want our children growing and learning from these explicit images? How can companies sleep at night knowing they are using corrupt techniques to sell products to our children? We are talking about corporate social responsibility (CSR). CSR is defied that "a corporation should be held accountable for any of its actions that affect people, their communities, and their environment (McGraw-Hill, 1999, Pg. 3)." Companies have two choices in this world today. They can either be for CSR or against it. This paper will use both sides of the coin to view the argument about sexuality in advertising.

Is the burger really that good?

The advertisement industry is a no-holds-barred industry where just about anything goes. Companies need to focus their attention on their CSR more than getting the edge in ads. We might ask ourselves, who exactly is watching these ads? Who are they intended for? What are they selling? Sometimes an advertisement can actually be confusing as to what is being sold. I do not agree with a sexual display for irrelevant products. The reason I take an anti-sexuality view on the subject started from a Carl's Jr. commercial. In this particular commercial, Paris Hilton was displayed eating a Carl's Jr. hamburger. While eating she was dressed in black bathing suit crawling over a Bentley. Some might find it attractive and enticing while others find this a little explicit for them. "This commercial is basically soft-core porn. The way she moves, the way she puts her finger in her mouth--it's very suggestive and very titillating (," said Melissa Caldwell, research director for the Parents Television Council (PTC). Carl's Jr. responded by saying that "the group needs to get a life. This isn't Janet Jackson--there's no nipple in this. It's a beautiful model in a swimsuit washing a car (" The PTC is very concerned about this matter considering this commercial airs in the hours of popular television shows such as The O.C. and sporting programs. Milton Friedman (1970) would agree with Carl's Jr. Friedman believes in the interest of the business and the business only. In his article with the title that speaks his opinion, "The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase Profits," Friedman states that "only people have responsibilities... business as a whole cannot be said to have responsibilities (Freidman, 1970, Pg. 1)." From Friedman's point of view if this commercial, which more than likely improved profits, did not air because of some social value or norm then the company lost money. More specifically they would be spending someone else's money; the stockholder's. The corporate executive made a decision to improve revenue for the company, which in turn makes more money for stockholders. He is not about to hold back from higher profits because of some social backlash. In the world of advertising sometimes bad press is good press.


"A Mexican restaurant showed a lycra-clad woman posed with her hands on her hips over the headline 'Tickle my Taco' (Rotfeld, 2003)." In this case the owner probably thought this would be a good slogan to have. What he doesn't realize that the use of irrelevant sexual innuendos is actually more distracting attracting. He actually thought this was the best campaign he had ever had because of the numerous complaints he got. Another backfire experience involves a trucker business that had passed out calendars for his business with half naked women on each month. This was thought to be a perfect ad scheme until most of the people with the calendars actually forgot the name of his company. "Advertising creators are so myopic as to believe that publicity from offending people is always beneficial. They do not see it as being a distraction from saying positive things about the restaurant or store (Rotfeld)."

Joe cool?

Advertising is not created and used just to provide a smug example of public morality; advertising is honest because it has to be. What I mean by honesty is the product information is not all ways how it is displayed. Let's address the issues of what we care about, the way we raise our children, our ideas of right and wrong conduct, these in my view are all together. Let's take a look at liquor and tobacco advertising. The image of the Marlboro Man is one example. This type of advertisement depicts a buff, handsome, cool man smoking a cigarette. What message is this conveying to our young people? That it is cool to smoke. We all know it has been proven that smoking cigarettes can cause cancer. This type of advertisement causes the consumer to subliminally change their opinion of various items. This is why most advertising is geared towards the younger more susceptible crowd.




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