For decades everyone states with such confidence that “sex sells”. But, does it really? It seems as though this is a rule of thumb, because everyone is saying so and big brands are using sex in their advertising non-stop. So, it must be true, right? But, I can’t help but feel as though we are in a Stanley Kubrick film, surrounded with many symbols. Is such “pushy” advertising really that effective? It seems as though it is. But, how does such advertising affect a brand’s image? How far can one go? It seems to me like companies are pushing the limits only to attract their customer’s attention. In a very aggressive and violent way if I may add. Is this premeditated or they don’t care how they present themselves.
Only, how far is too far? Walking down Fifth Avenue I was astound as to how obscene some of the advertising is and what “techniques” some use to attract shoppers to desire their products. Please note this is a guy’s opinion of a choice of advertising to be obscene, so they must have gone (a bit) far, right?
Is “pushy” advertising really that effective?
In order to avoid bias and just post a personal opinion, this post will be accompanied with photos of a few shopping windows that caught my eye. Since an image always says more than words, you have the freedom to decide for yourself whether you find these over the top as well. Also, in order to reach balance and lose the negative note, I will also include a couple of examples I thought to be good advertising.
OK, so I’ll start with the one that caught the most of my attention, the Desigual store. This is an example that stuck in my mind. Unfortunately I don’t mean this in a good way, as the only thought related to this ‘campaign’ is: ‘Do they really want to portray themselves in this light? Their clothes are not sexy, so why are they trying to attract customers with a sexy (and quite disturbing) image of a woman?’ As you can see below, the entrance of the store is ”crowned” with an image of a model in a short dress, standing over the entrance, luring shoppers with her hand to come inside.
Getting back to Stanley, this kind of ad feels like a ‘technique’ of truly luring customers inside the store using basic, physical instincts and lust. Looking at the model, I would think they want to trigger feelings like: ‘I want to feel confident and sexy like her!’ OK, great. But, is it really that they get that kind of response? Since many would consider this kind of advertising unethical.
Next, a similar example was found at the shopping windows of the fashion retail giant H&M. Here a slightly less provocative case of ‘showing legs’ still borders with unethical advertising. Why? The large models in the windows pose in a manner that make it seem as though it just might reveal too much. Although slightly less provocative than the Desigual case, it is obvious the tactic they use here is ‘sex’.
Again, we have a more provocative window for our next example, presented by American Eagle. It is an example that doesn’t show a sexy image, it’s more what it ‘says’. The sign in the window is very explicit, with a demanding note as the fluorescent sign is accompanied with big arrows facing down. Such windows are disturbing as brands like American Eagle target younger, and thus more vulnerable age groups. The young audience will not respond in a way that they’ll be appalled, as they are far more susceptible to such friction.
On the other hand, I noticed a different story when walking pass Fendi’s window. Here I saw something that bothered me on a different level. Fendi placed one of those entertainment/fun fair machines in their window, with a golden hook with which one would ‘try to catch’ the purses out of their latest collection. Here the symbolic is very noticeable as they want to trigger the desire for the bag in the mind of the shopper: ‘I’m so close, I can grab it!’ But really, what I relate with such a machine is the notion of cheap and of games. Not adjectives I would want to relate with an expensive Fendi purse. But, who am I to judge if that’s how they wish to present themselves. What is next? With every Fendi, you get cotton candy?!
Many researchers have dedicated their studies into studying what the effects of advertising are on a brand’s image. Personally I would think the effects gets stronger each day, as there are more and more unions dedicated to protect consumers against unethical advertising.
While until now I dedicated this post to negative examples of advertising, I wish to conclude with examples I found to be good and professional! One of these examples is the latest shopping window in the shopping window of Tiffany & Co. What I liked about it most was the emotions it provoked. This window instantly made me imagine my girlfriend next to me, looking at their window together. It was a feeling that made me want to bring her to Tiffany’s as soon as I could. Too bad an ocean parted us at that moment! The window sets a very classy, romantic and unique mood. Therefore making it a good example of what it means to market your product in a profound way, while at the same time stay loyal to the brand and the products you sell.
Finally, the example I want to conclude this post with is Apple. As always, Apple advertises itself as creative, professional and admirable. What makes this promotion of Apple feel admirable are the large glass pieces with the recognizable logo. It is more the feeling of the professionalism that catches the eye (and thought).
Therefore, what I would like to say more is that we should be ‘awake’ for all the techniques retailers (and other sellers) are trying to sell us. Therefore, while everything appears to be so attractive and desirable on the outside, we as consumers should not be deceived by low selling techniques. But, in fact open our eyes to what their trying to pull.
Be ‘awake’ for all the techniques retailers are trying to sell us!