To Smell Sexy

by Harambe on October 27, 2016 - 12:55am

The fragrance industry is prone to a lot of explicit advertisements. Some fragrance organizations use explicit content to their advantage in trying to attract, convey a certain message, and leave a positive (or negative) reaction to both men and women. This tactic usually shows to be advantageous to said companies. One company, Tom Ford, made a series of different ads for men’s cologne featuring a naked woman covered in oil (or sweat) with the bottle of cologne hiding her “private parts”. The first picture presents her body from her stomach to her thighs with the cologne placed over her private area. The other is only her torso, showing that both her hands are covering her breasts and the cologne is placed in between. In the last and quite shocking one, the bottle is placed between her open legs, barely covering her genitals at all. These series of ads are trying to convey the message that women would be attracted to men who make use of the cologne and this is concerning to society because it objectifies women in an almost pornographic way. One way to fix the ad is to both make use of women in a non-sexualized fashion and associate the ad to more masculine attributes.


The message that these Tom Ford ads are trying to project to their audience is very sexual due to the fact that the model in the picture appears to be completely nude and the bottle is the only thing covering her genitals. This is made to attract the naked eye of men (and women) who tend to be instantly drawn to such explicit pictures, especially when it is being used in advertising. The message is telling both men and women, that if men wear the cologne, women (like the one in the ad) will be attracted to them and, possibly, take their clothes off. The woman’s body is, as mentioned before, covered in oil or sweat, making us believe that it is due to some sort of sexual activity and by putting the cologne bottle to cover her genitals like in the pictures, it almost seems as if the woman is attracted to the cologne bottle. This makes it so that what is attractive about men who use this product is that they use this product. Basically, the message intended for men tries to convey that the product would make them a sexual figure and attract other females solely for their use of the cologne.  


The reason this advertisement is concerning is because the woman being shown in the ad is hyper sexualized in a socially concerning way. Although this is indeed in a lot of ads (more or less sexualized) and emphasized in Miss Representation because it can show to be an effective way of selling a product and making an impression, but this one took it a “shocking” point. Even though no private parts are really being shown in any of the pictures, the ad is so revealing that it could almost be seen as pornographic. As it truthfully can be appealing to the male eye, it is disrespectful to all women suffering from this objectification. The massage is degrading because it implies that any woman would let men have sex with them simply for using that cologne, which in most cases is a false and unrealistic situation. Also it is problematic because it is not something young boys and girls should be exposed to, as it can damage the way they interpret sex, sexual content, and men and women’s place in society. The objectification of women and the female body in hyper-explicit fashion should be of concern to many people because it is unrealistic, degrading, and can damage the youth mind, if ever exposed to such marketing schemes.


There are many ways possible to fix the series of these ads. The fact that the woman is completely nude is the biggest problem with the pictures. A solution to that would be to either cover the female up a bit more in a way that is much less provocative. It would also be less disrespectful considering that it wouldn’t imply that a women would automatically have sex with any man that smells “Tom Ford fragrance” good. Another way to solve the problem would be to, instead of make use of women for the good of the ad, appeal more to men through masculine attributes that associate with the company’s target market. Marketers should do research to find these attributes instead of using sexist ways to sell a product. This way, the product would still sell because it would be in favor of what the general target market (men) like or would like.


To conclude, the message being conveyed is that women would be sexually attracted to men who use the product. This shows great concern for society (including the youth) who is exposed to this false and degrading message and can be fixed by not sexualizing the woman being used in the ad or by attributing male traits to the product to appeal to men. If ads like this and like in the documentary, Miss Representation, were to be avoided, it would aid our society in becoming more equal for both men and women. Yet, marketers need to make a decision based on whether or not this strategic marketing tactic should be used in order to generate sales. The ethical question arises: do businesses such as Tom Ford care more about generating sales than gender equality? If so, what does this tell us about the business itself?


What drew us to this post is undoubtedly the title. Once we clicked on the link, the picture of the Tom Ford advertisement was the first thing that popped up and really caught our attention. In our opinion, ads like these should not even be allowed. This specific advertisement could very well be considered a "censored" pornographic photo; as the perfume bottle is the only thing covering the woman's private parts. This not only objectifies women, but it may also affect vulnerable children and younger viewers because it portrays a degrading message. Thus, it makes children believe that women can be used for the sole purpose of pleasuring men. Likewise, this can be related to male privilege because it suggests that men are only interested in buying perfumes that advertise naked women. It also gives men the wrong idea seeing as though the woman in the ad is naked, purchasing the perfume will make the women want to desire them sexually. As a solution, the people who create these ads should use other attributes that appeal to men that do not sexualize women. For example, the company could have a famous football player advertising their perfume, or even feature an expensive car. Moreover, the whole issue belittles women's values, as it makes them appear vulnerable to men, and that something as insignificant as a scent could encourage them to have sexual intercourse.

The sexual and misogynistic character of the attached image is what originally drew us to the post. Then, as we read the article, we started thinking about how advertising can increase the problem with objectifying women and gender inequality. Beforehand, we did not realize how extensive the issue was, but this article made us realize the urgency to stop the hypersexualization of women in advertising. The issue, according to us, relates to male privilege, as hypersexualization of women gives a clear message to society: women are pressured to sexually serve and pleasure men. In this case, men are seen as being dominant or having more sexual power than women. However, there is also a pressure for men to have power over women, sexually speaking, and, if they don’t, they are seen as weak. We have seen in our class that men and women are pressured to fit in typical, “gender-appropriate” boxes, even though these “boxes” do not fit with their personalities. We highly recommend that, for more information, you watch this clip:

The post made me think of an issue I had not completely considered before, I saw many ads about how females are sexually represented as sex symbols in society and how men are not, well less than females. With this post, it just clarified everything and now I see how females are used in a negative way in today’s society. With all of this, it made me think of a “TedTalk” we saw in class, about how males have certain privileges that females does not. Basically, the video was about how men have advantages that women has not in society. For example, the cologne ad, if it was a men, we would just see the upper body of the men naked, but there would not be any cologne bottles hiding his genitals. This just shows that society created an idea that men should always see women as sex symbols.