A fascinating ad image

I try to stay away from ads as much as possible--I don't like being sold stuff. My aversion to being sold on things dates back, at least as far as I can remember for this off-the-cuff blog post, to the six weeks I tried to sell cars for a living, around 1995 as far as I can recall. As you might imagine, I've tried hard to blot that horrifying six weeks from my memory.

It's the pressure exerted on us as consumers to buy, buy, buy that bugs me, so rather than fight off the pressure, I generally try to slough it off whenever possible. I don't watch tv much, I have a very effective pop-up blocker (thanks, Firefox!), I listen to cds in the car, and I don't buy many magazines.

But I'm teaching an essay by Susan Bordo titled Beauty (Re)discovers the Male Body in my Composition classes right now, and she deals with sexuality in advertising almost exclusively in her piece, so as an exercise, I had my students bring in ads they thought were geared to appeal to stereotypical heterosexual male sexuality and toward female and/or gay male sexuality.

Many of the images were what you would expect--cologne and perfume ads, a lot of Calvin Klein underwear models, one brash guy brought in a vibrator ad. The most disturbing one was an ad for Skyy Vodka--you saw a man only from the hips down, his hands near his crotch, two martini glasses in one hand and a bottle of Skyy in the other, straddling a woman lying face up, head toward the reader. All you see of her is her blonde hair, her sunglasses, her tits encased in a bikini top, and the tips of her toes. Male dominance personified.

And then there was this picture, a two page spread ripped in half, so I didn't know how the characters were spaced until I looked it up online this afternoon.




It's also a vodka ad, but in this one, the males are decidedly not the focal point. One is background staring at a new holographic Statue of Liberty (complete with pasties), another is dancing alone, a flag in his hand, a third mixing himself a drink, and a fourth--the most gay looking of the bunch with his Speedo-like shorts and fur boots--dancing with a woman, but they might as well be dancing alone for as much as they're into each other. The scantily clad women might be there as eye-candy for men, I suppose, were it not for the dominant pair right in the middle of the scene--a dark woman, brown hair, not voluptuous, but certainly not a ripped hardbody, in a fur string bikini, walking toward the viewer hand in hand with a very feminine and very dominant robot. The robot has prominent but not oversized breasts, and the same for her hips, complete with what could be her own french cut bikini bottoms. She's hairless, and her face is flawless, gorgeous, and she's so tall!

She dominates the scene, as she should, for she's the spokesbeing for the product, but by this point, I'm so engrossed in the images that I'd consider buying the vodka just for the sizzle, which, when you think about it, is the only real defining factor vodka should have--lacking any foreign additive, vodka is flavorless fire.

Of course, I won't buy it simply for that. I'm not a big vodka drinker to begin with, and I resist the impulse to buy simply based on advertising pretty well. But ads can and do turn me off of products very effectively, so while the Svedka ad might not get me to buy Svedka vodka, the Skyy ad has definitely turned me off of their product.

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