Sex & Violence! Does It Really Sell?
We live in the 21st century and things are quite different from when our parents were our age. The cultural norms have changed over time to suit the need for change and have moved into a new realm all together. Ask anyone and they`ll tell you that sex and violence sells but does it really?
Are we living in a day and age where advertisers can prompt us to buy anything as long as there’s a sensuous female form in front of us? How long will sexual innuendos be hidden behind the veil of humor? In the last few years I have noticed that the advertisements in the West have gotten more revealing and explicit. Thankfully due to our cultural and religious restrictions, such forms of advertising have not been adopted…yet!
It’s not just sex that’s being marketed heavily, its also violence that is being used to create a sense of adventure and excitement and even as warnings. A UK based Department of Health Anti-Smoking campaign which showed hooks in peoples mouths was condemned and authorities and advertising watchdogs received complaints about the campaign. Terms such as frightening, offensive and distressing were used to describe the visuals. I wonder how much of the message the campaign was designed to send across got through to the people.
Fortunately, there are lobby groups and relevant authorities in parts of the world where such objections will be heard and its made sure that something similar does not repeat itself.
As most marketing students and those working in the industry would know, the main aim is to encourage people to buy by hook or by crook. Advertising does have an effect on the people watching them, it can have a positive impact or a negative impact. What happens is up to the advertiser.
Suggestive Ads can have a serve negative impact on society as these Ads are seen by children and adults alike. Here is another example of violence in advertising. A LEGO ad turned violent. The message with a gun and alcohol are all suggestive indicators which might provoke a negative action.
Coming back the Sex, It sells! Be it in Pakistan or be it anywhere else in the world, the harsh reality remains unchanged. However, experts have argued that certain types of ads which portray women in violent or sexual positions are demeaning to women and sexist. This writer tends to agree with those experts and would promote a safer form of advertising where certain boundaries are kept intact.
Working towards making advertising friendly and safe is a responsibility that we all have, especially those who are in a position to make a difference.
Fortunately, Pakistan is safe from such forms of advertising so far due to our cultural and religious norms but there might be a time when such things might become normal. It is up to the advertising agencies in Pakistan and the marketeers to make sure we do not cross that line and that the line is clearly defined. I personally know of an agency which created a campaign for an international ice cream brand that was completely based on sexual innuendos for another Muslim country and were shot down. It is the duty of the marketeer as much as the advertising agency to act responsibly.
The ban on cigarette ads on television was an excellent move and I have yet to meet a person who has objected to it.
Note: Due to the commercial nature of this blog, I have opted not to post some pictures as example. The complete set of pictures along with this post can be found here