by JoanneZ on February 14, 2016 - 9:47pm
Sisley, a french fashion company founded in 1976(Sisley) has always been famous for its provocative and racy advertisings. Never ceasing to challenge its clientele’s levels of acceptance, Sisley’s 2007 Chinese campaign has once again, given rise to controversy.
In this advertisement, we can see two young women between age of 18 to 29, with heavy make-up, snorting the straps of a vest as they were lines of heroin. One of the women has semi-closed eyes and is obviously strung out. The other has one of her breast naked and seems enjoying her heroin meal. There is also a credit card on which there is some real, freshly cut heroin, of which the function is to intensify the connection between the drug and the vest. The background seems to be in a bar due to its dark decorations. In the middle of the advertisement, we can see the name of the brand, “SISLEY”, accompanied by the tagline “Fashion Junkie”.
By acquainting drugs with style, this advertising firstly glamorizes drug use in general. Alike the controversial “heroin chic” look in the ‘90s, Sisley uses drug as the marketing motif to grab attention and to convince the audience that buying their clothes is addicting. However, it is undeniable that this advertising is socially irresponsable and emotionally manipulative due to the explicit reference to drugs and the presence of the word “Junkie” in the slogan. It misleads vulnerable groups as children and especially girls of the same age as those in the advertising to blindly imitate drug consumption.
Secondly, since the target customers of this advertising are both women and men, it discriminates women in double senses. Firstly, the advertisers suppose that women will be attracted by this vest just like they will be attracted by drugs. It exaggerates women’ s incapacity to resist to the temptation of drugs as well as their craziness of fashion. Secondly, the advertisers also presume that men will like to see women getting high of drugs just like they’d like to see them in this sexy vest. It promotes a hegemonic masculin world view by portraying women’s vulnerability as sexual attractiveness and by treating them as objects whose function is to please men and to be manipulated by them (ex:the woman on the left’s breast is exposed to public).
Thirdly, this advertising makes use of sexist stereotypes by conveying that fashion should be an addictive and desperate necessity for women. Believing that women consumers can associate their need for a cloth to the drug addiction is in itself a gender-based presumption. As media can dictate social values, this exaggeration of the importance of beauty in a woman’s life can partially explain the fact that a typical american woman spend $15 000 on make-up products over life time(Siebel Newsom).
From a pure capitalist perspective, it is true that a bad press is better than no press. I should admit that this advertising of Sisley succeeds to grab attention by associating style with drugs in such an explicit way. However, remembering that being shocked doesn’t necessarily lead to the purchase of the product. We may have some mature consumers, like mothers or grandmothers who look for cloths for their children, who feel offended by this brutal way of advertising and thus, refuse to buy the product. Therefore, my suggestion is to change drugs into milk and to dress the models in a less sensual way in order to completely remove the unhealthy atmosphere of this advertising. Even though the attention-grabbing effect may be compromised, in the long term, a socially responsable advertising is more beneficial to our youth’s growth and can be accepted by a wider clientele.
Miss Representation. Dir. Jennifer Siebel Newsom and Kimberlee Acquaro. Perf. Christina Aguilera. Virgil Films & Entertainment, 2011. DVD.
Sisley Paris: L’ENTREPRISE. n.d. Web. 14 Feb. 2016. <http://www.sisley-paris.com/fr-FR/l-entreprise/>.