An advertisement is a message printed in the newspapers or magazines, broadcast on radio or television, sent to individuals through mail or email or conveyed in another fashion. Its goal is to attempt or persuade readers or listeners to purchase a particular product or agree with a particular idea.
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The media is a very powerful tool. It informs individuals on current events, society expectations, and public morality. The media imprints visions in the minds of individuals of how they should look, dress, and act. This stirs up the memory of the Marlboro Man with his rugged goods looks and cigarette in hand. Today, young children perceive Britney Spears as their role model for dress, attitude, and self-confidence. The media continues to validate the issue that you must be beautiful or handsome, and in perfect physical shape to be successful. Clothing manufactures consistently produce television commercials that perpetuate this phenomenon. There are poignant images in the media that prove that sex sells clothing, cars, and success.
If you look at designers in today’s society such as Calvin Klein, Abercrombie and Fitch, Polo, and Tommy Helfiger you will see that the persona that having great abdominal muscles, a great chest, and charming good looks equates success. In fashion you will see that the concept of sexuality moves merchandise.
The media is the catalyst for the designer’s knowledge and prowess in the game of advertising. In the early 1980’s the image of fifteen-year-old Brooke Shields, with an unbuttoned blouse sent shock waves through the country. Gloria Steinem publicly protested the crotch shots of Brooke Shields. This was the first drastic measure to exploit a young female’s body for the sake of a sale. The Calvin Klein Company continued to cause controversy with their racy and scandalous advertisements. Critics went as far as to compare the advertisements with child pornography. However, even the most critical opposition could do little to stop what would become the future for advertising. Calvin Klein’s jeans sales doubled during this time frame.
The general public became accustom to this flagrant type of advertising. The past several years has shown that many individuals have become less concerned with what was once considered taboo, as clothing advertisements leave very little to the imagination. Major designers like Calvin Klein and Abercrombie and Fitch proudly display advertisements presenting men and women in underwear in erotic poses. This outrageous display of sexuality has catapulted these design houses to success.
One must wonder whom exactly a major company like Pepsi is selling to when they put Britney Spears in a half shirt with suspenders and low-slung jeans as Bob Dole watches on. It is doubtful that they are looking to sell their product to a middle-aged woman. Advertisers and designers are very aware of how to target a specific audience. They design their advertisements to conform to the assumptions about the people who are the ones most likely to purchase their products. This is unfortunate as the youngsters today are developing eating disorders and becoming workout maniacs so they can achieve the perfect body image.
The shock value of scantly clad men and women forces and intrigues the general population. This intrigue is what sells clothing and other items. Individuals, particularly youth, do not want to be perceived as different. They want to have the best jeans, tennis shoes, underwear, and tee shirts.
The perception in today’s society is that to fit in you must conform to what the advertisers are projecting upon you. The Victoria’s Secret catalogue would be less appealing if the women where obscenely obese or the young men featured in the Abercrombie and Fitch advertisements were plain, out of shape boys. This clearly proves that sexuality sells. It is apparent from the advertisements today that the rugged Marbarol Man is an icon from the past. Today, what once was referred to as child pornography and against society’s morals, sells merchandise
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