Most of the ads have me confused and slightly disturbed, however what has me going is the fact that I’m not the only one. Unwarranted sex in advertising has caused an outrage amongst people and the voices have started rising and opinions kicking in harder than before.
At the time when our country is still reeling from a series of shocking sex attacks on women, our Brands are busy ‘out-sexing’ each other. And in the race to sell their products the industry is utilising the so called power of sexual suggestions. But they don’t realize by using sexual economics to sell, they are not just doing their product a disservice but hampering the society as well. Brands have to accept that they too live within this very society.
The hegemonic construction of masculinity that is emphasized by Brands in advertising directly leads men to believe that they should be strong, ambitious, sex-orientated, competitive and violent. But unfortunately I think this entire facade leads to degradation of women and commoditization of their body parts which ultimately reiterates gender stereotypes and gender inequality.
Thankfully times are changing and women are not ready to compromise their dignity and refuse to become a symbol of everything that’s wrong with society. They don’t want to be portrayed as if they have solely been created to look good or cater to man’s creature comforts. Men are realising this too. Our consumers are making a slow but sure transition from uninformed-misled to self-aware individuals.
A recent example is of Ford Figo’s ad campaign. The ad shows women bound and gagged in the boot of the car with a male driver in the front, that too not even 2 months after the shocking gang rape of a student on a Delhi bus. It not only perpetuates violence against women but more significantly it asks us to accept pro-rape behaviour and paints a frightening picture of our society. The ad was instantly removed because of the hue and cry from different walks of people reflecting Brand disconnect with its consumer.
Consider BMW’s new ad campaign for Used cars – ‘You know you are not the first’ directly hits at women’s sexuality, promotes and propagates men’s interest in the virginity aspect of women. The ad is more than visually disconcerting for me and clearly depicts a sexual connotation that portrays the young girl as a sex object. No matter what justification the brand gives, since when is it okay to use women’s sexual status to sell cars?
Matchbox Toy cars campaign ‘Big Women Small Cars’ takes the cake! Painfully dominating images of curvaceous women in scanty clothes looks like an attempt of cheap publicity than an effort to sell a toy car!! The ad creates misplaced ideas amongst young girls of what it means to be big.
So I want to ask the brands: CAN WE DO BETTER THAN THIS?
We as Marketers need to realize that a movement of people is already on the rise against what is unethical. They are coming out of a dream world of hypocrisy woven by the companies. The big shiny bubble has burst….. demanding that all of us as a fraternity introspect and contemplate on where are we, where do we want to go and what do we want to do..
I think it’s time we should get over ‘sex sells’ syndrome and try to be a part of the solution than problems.