Thursday, August 17, 2006

You're selling clothes, not skin.

You ever hear stories about the girl who poses nude or semi-nude for her boyfriend, then the photos get spread around without her permission? The American Apparel ads are particularly irksome to me because of their similarities. There's no gloss, no barrier, just women posing in an intimate way, as if for a lover. They're too raw. As it turns out, I'm not the only one bothered by these over-sexed ads and graphics:

There's a brilliant article in this week's Business Week attacking advertising tactics by American Apparel & Abercrombie. Turns out that Business Week has a weekly column called Girl Improved, written by the women at 3iYing (which seems to be a market research company focused on female consumers).

"Girls cringe at overtly sexual ads, yet paradoxically, marketing campaigns targeted at teen girls are sex-obsessed," the article states, and goes on to detail how women fashions are aimed at men; trying to impress them and attempting to fulfill male fantasy, not young women's ideals.

The authors later go on to point out that often the message is confused due to the overuse of sex: "Gratuitous sex dilutes the sales value of your expensive advertisements... By relying on sex to sell your product you are not only getting lost in the steamy sea of marketing erotica, you're not highlighting what you want us to love in the first place—your product."

Kudos-- I'm glad that some people are realizing that women are consumers in their own right, and the same old ad ideas won't work on them. Let's class it up. I'm tired of walking into a store and seeing images like these.

* Just a sidebar: American Apparel seems to have run into multiple issues regarding sex and gender, including harrassment charges against its CEO. Read about it here and here. And also, here. Or just google it.


Jugo said...

I like that ad.

I find the intimacy appealing, as if to say, "These aren't supermodel underwear; regular chicks wear this stuff."

I'm not saying it's the best ad ever, but isn't it a little better than, say, a Victoria's Secret ads that's more airbrush than skin and more breast than underwear?

Jennifer said...

Yeah, I do agree that it's nice that "regular" chicks wear this stuff, but why do they always have to be laid out like that? Can't they just be chilling with friends, instead of sprawled on a bed??

Jugo said...

What's wrong with a little sex?

Anonymous said...

american apparel are a bit like the dirty version of the united colors of benetton - in terms of their advertising. it's nice to see, not just regular chicks, but people from various ethnicities (some pleasantly ambiguous rather than clear cut black vs white vs asian) being featured in their ads... one consequence of mainstream media is it implies it's only enjoyable to find white people sexy - why can't other people be sexy too? i do hear what you are talking about, concerning some of the shadyness of the men behind american apparel - it's a fine line... the need to feel sexually empowered while not being white versus the baggage associated with being sexy: the lechery of sexually abusive perverts.

Jennifer said...

Good point, Anonymous. I do like how they use different races and ethnicities- it's progressive. But with all the sex, it's two steps forward, one step back... or maybe two steps back as well, given how lecherous the pics are!