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Sexy adverts – or advertising sexism?

January 20th, 2008

Dr Petra

This past week there have been a few stories about sexy adverts that have caused some debate.

The first was the story of a Cheshire teacher who was sacked after someone spotted she’d previously taken part in a rather rude advert for Scruff’s Hardware. Responses to the advert have ranged from finding it clever to concern over the way it represents women. In particular a woman appearing to want sex with a peeping tom has annoyed some women’s groups. The debate over the advert has overshadowed the real story, which is since when has appearing in an advert aimed at adults determined your capabilities as a teacher? Apparently there was no complaint over the teacher in question’s work until someone spotted she was in this film clip. Watch the advert and decide for yourself if you think the first woman in the clip should have lost her job for this particular appearance….

In other news on the sexy/sexist advertising front fashionista Tom Ford has created a new fragrance for men. Just so his product would stand out against all the other men’s fragrances out there, someone decided the best way to sell it would be through an advert that uses a naked woman. The advert has been giving people headaches in more ways than one. If it’s not the flash photography setting your nerves on edge, it’s the now rather hackneyed pairing of nudie lady and product shot. You can see his original advert here – and perhaps appreciate why gossip site Popbitch described it as hitting ‘new heights of art wank’. They weren’t the only ones to see it as a naff promotion though and a piss-taking alternative has been rapidly circulating the internet – which you can enjoy here.

It’s not like sex and advertising haven’t always been cosy bedfellows, but it can get somewhat boring and obvious when anything from a fragrance to men’s working boots resort to the default ‘sexy lady’ option. Many have been complaining that these adverts are a problem because they are sexist. I find them a problem because they make sex – and sexiness – mundane. If you are going to use sex in your adverts, surely you can come up with something other than the tired old up-skirt or legs akimbo formula?

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