Sex sells. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the world of advertising. Automobile manufacturers were the first to discover it. They found that if they draped a beautiful, young, scantily clad woman across the hood of a car, profits would soar. There was no going back.
Other advertisers quickly sat up and took notice. Then they laid down and took their clothes off.
If titillation, innuendo, and double entendre sell more product than factual information presented by an authority figure in a three-piece suit or a lab coat, as was common in early television ads, then the new rule of advertising is to bring on the half-naked showgirls.
Remember the old commercial in which a shapely young woman in a swimsuit sprawled at the foot of a swimming pool? The vast shadow of an airplane then swept across her body from her toes to her head just as a handsome and muscular man stepped out of the pool and stood at her bare feet. How clueless do you have to be to miss the symbolism of that one?
For many years advertisers have been trying to convince viewers that there is something inherently erotic about a woman shampooing her hair. There used to be a commercial that ran for many years in which a beautiful young woman is driven to her sexual peak by washing her hair with an herbal shampoo in a public bathroom. That is way more fun than a person ought to have while shampooing alone. And who wants to spend any more time than absolutely necessary in a public bathroom?
By the way, if you believed every advertisement you ever saw, only young and beautiful people buy and use their products. Evidently, average-looking senior citizen women never wash their hair or buy cars. I see the same bias in television newscasters. The females are all young and beautiful. It is acceptable to be an old, average- looking or even homely newscaster, but only if you are a male.
There used to be another commercial in which two lovers sit across the table from each other, exchanging smoldering glances as they noisily slurp fruit. They make greedy sucking noises as fruit juice drips from their chins and large chunks of fruit fall to the table with a splat. Is this sexy?
Does this make you want to rush to the store and buy fruit? It makes me want to hose them both down, both to wash off the sticky juices and to cool their ardor. I am not even sure what they are selling. Is it fruit? Paper towels? Detergent? An etiquette book about table manners? Condoms?
They look like the couple you might see on the cover of a romance novel. You know the ones. She of the immense, heaving, barely covered bosoms and pouty lips; he of the long blonde ringlets and frilly shirt unbuttoned to the waist to show off his well-sculpted, hairless chest.
I admit to having read a few romance novels. By the end of the first chapter, you know how it is going to end. The frequent, flowery sex scenes run on for page after page. It takes longer to read about it than it would to do it. After five or six pages, you just want to say, “Oh, for Pete’s sake, get on with it! You’re boring me.”
He strokes her there, she touches him there, and then she always, in the vernacular of the romance novels, “arches her back to meet him.” Does she need romancing or a good chiropractor?
Then in a lustful frenzy, she rakes her long painted fingernails across his back, which stokes his fire like a squirt of lighter fluid. How realistic is that? If you asked your spouse, “Honey, would you get more excited if I got the mower out and cut the grass for you or if I gouged several ounces of epidermal tissue off your back?” he’d be backing the mower out of the garage for you before you got the sentence finished.
I once saw a sexually provocative commercial for (believe it or not) a candy bar. It was the last straw. Mumbling under my breath, I called the candy manufacturer.
“Is this Curt’s Candy Company, purveyor of audio/visual smut? You should be ashamed of yourself, portraying a candy bar as a female erotic dancer. Just look at that cartoon candy bar, swaying and bumping and grinding and undulating, cavorting under a spotlight while sultry music plays and club patrons hoot and whistle.
Now she is slowly peeling back her foil wrapper as if it were a tight dress. I should report you to…Ooh, is that chocolate? That looks yummy… Where was I? Oh, yeah, This is disgusting…Hey, are those almonds or raisins representing her bosom? Almonds? Yum… What was I saying? Oh, yes, the FCC is going to hear about this! I am sick of your advertisers using women and sex to sell products.
I will not have this kind of trashy, anti-feminist advertising in my house! If this commercial is not permanently off the air by Tuesday…hey…is that caramel nougat filling? Psst, better send me over three cases, and overnight it, will you?
At least make the next stripping candy bar a male, will you? And put him in a frilly shirt unbuttoned to the waist.”