Suit Supply, Unsuited for its Consumers
by aKd12DaN5 on September 26, 2016 - 10:38pm
Although the negative feedback towards Suit Supply’s photos did force the company to remove them on Facebook, the company still decided to keep them on their website (“Suit Supply’s ‘Shameless’ Campaign Causes Stir With Scantily-Clad Women.”).
On the surface, this advertisement is simply trying to promote their new clothing line as 'chic', but as the public would agree, this advertisement is anything but innocent.
Just comparing the two characters one can see that both models adhere to the female and male prototypes in advertising. Where the female prototype includes characteristics of “youth, … good looks, sexual seductiveness, and perfection” (Cortese 59) and “the ideal man … is young, handsome, clean-cut, perfect, and sexually alluring” (Cortese 71).
The lack of diversity in advertising further stresses to the viewers that cultural standards of beauty exist. For women, it tells them “that they will not be desirable to, or loved by, men unless they are physically perfect” (Cortese 59). Sadly, this leads women to go to extreme measures like refusing to eat (anorexia nervosa) in order to comply with what is perceived as ‘beautiful’ (Cortese 72). As for men, if being muscular is perceived as a reflection of masculinity, then men will over exercise and still criticize their size despite evidence of muscles that would say otherwise (Cortese 72).
Besides her appearance, this woman’s face is hidden and her body is naked and positioned in an unnatural way including her legs being spread apart. By hiding her face, she becomes dehumanized and it suggests that her value lies within her physical appearance and her ability to pleasure men. By having the majority of her body inside the transparent chair hanging from the ceiling, it makes her appear as if she is in glass ornament put on display, thus further emphasizing her objectification. While her male coworker portrays the strong, confident, and successful subject who does not have to be undressed for others to evaluate his worth.
Even the positions of the characters within the frame implies that there is a power shift. While it idealizes the man as he is positioned in the foreground with the camera lens in focus, the woman is deemed as less valuable by being out of focus and in the background. The lighting also contrasts the man with the woman, where he is put in the ‘spotlight’ compared to the woman who is placed further away from the natural light. This contrast heightens the viewer’s focus towards the man and seeing him as the dominant subject while the woman is considered the submissive object.
Reinforcing the concept of men as dominant, it teaches men that “only one type of sexuality is acceptable” (Wade 166). Consequently, this “threatens to alienate [men] from their own sexuality” (Wade 170). While objectifying women emphasizes the notion that men can own and control women (Wade 165) and reinforces the idea that “[the] purpose [of women] is to satisfy the desires of the male subject” (Wade 170).
If I were to fix this advertisement while still selling the product, I would make it more about the clothing itself and I might add a slogan to point out how stylish the clothing is. As for the couple, I would include a homosexual couple rather than a heterosexual couple and position them standing next to each, fully clothed with their faces visible. On top of that, I would try to select models of different race, age, religion, and size. Since this is a clothing brand intended for a male audience, it only makes sense to feature men and hopefully it would encourage consumers to buy more from a brand that they can identify with rather than seeing it as a fantasy.
Unfortunately, Suit Supply isn’t the only company that has been under scrutiny for having controversial advertisements, but it’s their refusal to remove them that make the company stand out from the rest. Whether intentional or not, by refusing to remove the advertisements online, it shows that they still support the idea that the objectification of women is acceptable, put pressure on men to conform to unrealistic standards of masculinity, and that beauty exists for only a few lucky individuals. Thus, if “ads use visual images of men and women to grab our attention and persuade” (Cortese 57), then perhaps companies need to pay closer attention to them to avoid sending the wrong message to their consumers.
Cortese, Anthony. "Constructed Bodies, Deconstructing Ads: Sexism in Advertising." Provocateur: Images of Women and Minorities in Advertising, Third Edition (New York:Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2008):57-89. Rpt in 345-102-MQ: Gendered World Views. Montreal: Eastman, 2016, 9-26. Print.
Suit Supply. “Shameless Advertisement." Huffington Post, 25 May. 2011, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/01/suit-supply-shameless-ca_n_7772.... Accessed 20 Sept. 2016.
“Suit Supply’s ‘Shameless’ Campaign Causes Stir With Scantily-Clad Women.” The Huffington Post, 25 May. 2011, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/01/suit-supply- shameless-ca_n_77.... Accessed 20 Sept. 2016.
Wade, Lisa and Gwen Sharp. “Selling Sex.” Susan Dente Ross and Paul Martin Lester (eds.) Images that Injure: Pictorial Stereotypes in the Media (Santa Barbara: Praeger, 2011):163-172. Rpt in 345-102-MQ: Gendered World Views. Montreal: Eastman, 2016, 3-8.Print