An Advertising Analysis Paper On Sex Appeal And Gender Representation

Advert Analysis: Sex Appeal and Gender Representation

Advertising is a means of communication that aims at the marketing of goods and services. The main objective of advertisements is to try to convince potential consumers to purchase products or consider utilization of the services that an organization offers. This means that the aim of advertisements is to drive customer behavior concerning a commercial offering. According to Tunchmen (1975), advertisements are everywhere and we see them every day from childhood to adulthood.


However, in recent years, adverts contain images that are of moral degradation. Most adverts nowadays find it appealing to use sexual appeasement in order to get the audience`s attention. On every TV channel and other forms of media, commercials market their products using beautiful women (Sadiq, 1997). This explains why the moral values of society are degrading every day. The adverts use sex appeal and gender insensitivity in order to get maximum attention from the target audience (Rao, 2010).

The aim of this paper is to discuss the impact on society and consider how sex appeal and gender representation is used in ads. The paper will use an advert for reference and clarity. The advert is attached after the references page.

Advertisement description

The print advertisement photo selected is in Vintage Ads advertising male shoes. In this picture, Tunchmann`s ‘pictures of perfection and goals of happiness’ are evident. The first thing that captures the eye is the sex appeal in the picture. The photo portrays a beautiful woman lying on the floor admiring a masculine shoe. She is half-naked and obviously enjoying the view of the shoe which is level to her eyes- on the floor. The background is orange that looks like gold. Her hair glitters and she has an emerald ring to portray that she is a woman of class. The feminism of this ad is in the words on the head of the photo: ‘Keep her where she belongs…’ this implies that the place of a woman is at the feet of men.

These advertisements targets men who would be compelled to buy the shoe in order to retain their egocentrism and make women fall to their feet with admiration. The woman in the photo looks content and happy about the show that she does not mind her position. It is as if the advert juxtaposes a woman to a shoe since all of them are on the floor and glittering. This advert targets adults because the woman in the picture is half-naked and concealing her nipples only. The other parts of her breasts are totally exposed. The woman looks submissive as if what the wearer of the shoe tells her she would follow. I have attached the photo at the end of this paper after the bibliography. (Appendix 1)

Advertising concepts

There are various advertising concepts applied in adverts. Many adverts apply Jib Fowle`s Advertising’s Basic Appeals with sex appeal being the most rampant. Almost all the adverts we find in media, be they electronic or print, have a basis of sex appeal (Kazmi & Batra, 2009). Sex appeal seems like the common denominator in all adverts, from fashion posters to food. Pepsi used to have an advert with Britney Spears in a sexy pose, and so did P. Diddy`s cologne advert. The first notable concept in the advert is sex appeal. The model is half-naked and her face is strategically placed captured to portray her expression: suggestive sexual expression. In addition to that, the model`s posture with the shoe is identical to that of a man in bed beside his wife. The background color is a relation to romance. It is however strategic in that it portrays romance and enables contrast that makes the shoe stand out, which is the objective of the advert. Before one gets to see the woman, they get to notice the show first, due to how it stands out in the picture.

This advert is however immoral. According to Shafeeq Sadic`s Racism and Sexism in Advertising, political inherence and correctness are with us in today’s society. There are certain comments that should not be tolerated whether they involve the minority, racists, or sexists. Sadic`s article seeks to understand why women are exploited as sex objects in advertisements daily (Sadic 1997). This picture`s negativity is that it portrays sexism and chauvinism. This advert, despite being intended to be viewed by adults, it is in danger of being viewed by children since it is available publicly. It, therefore, is a concern to parents globally. Secondly, the fact that it suggests the female position in society as being at the feet of men is feminism. It is therefore a subject of criticism from human rights activists worldwide. This shows how the media portrays women hence cultivating a society that devalues women.

Another concept that most adverts apply is the need for affiliation (Berkman & Gilson, 1987). According to Berkman and Gibson (1987), showing the need for affiliation in an advert compels one party to find a product to be a necessity. They, therefore, look towards purchasing the product so they may strengthen their bond with their loved ones. A man would see this advert and become compelled to purchase it so he may achieve the illusion that the advert portrays about the woman towards a man who would wear the shoes. Endless romance is the desire of every man in a relationship. He would therefore go to any extent to ensure that he gets a pair.

However, the advert does not uphold the woman`s place highly. This is because a man would want to purchase the shoes in order to ensure that his partner stays at his feet. That is not a positive way to portray a woman to men and society. The place of a woman seized to be at men`s feet and a show of this would invite lawsuits. Women should not be perceived as objects of sex. In this generation, women hold luxurious positions in society. It is therefore unethical to suggest that their place should be at a man`s feet.

In an advert, there exists need for autonomy. Unique products are appealing to the target market. If a potential buyer were torn between various products, he/she would go for one that is unique and classy (Shimp, 2010). This shoe suggests class in that it makes a classy woman stoop to being at a man`s feet. The woman is classy due to the ring she is wearing and the general look of her beautiful body and face. Her hair is also well-groomed and shiny. This advert would therefore make men go buy the shoes for those reasons. This again is despising femininity since a shoe is compared to a woman. On the positive side, women love classy and unique outfits. This shoe is portrayed in a way that is attractive to women who value class in men. The advert suggests that the shoe will always ensure a man wins a woman`s heart easily.

This advert is therefore a portrayal of great advertising techniques, only that it transgresses gender insensitivity. According to Sut Jhally`s "Image-Based Culture: Advertising and Popular Culture” adverts talk to us as individuals and address how we can become happier. Adverts provide happiness and satisfaction that compels us to purchase the products (Sut Jhally, 1990). This advert is compelling and attractive since it uses a great color scheme. Orange, which also implies romance, is a cool color to juxtapose with black. The advert is of classy aesthetic values. The main objective of this advert is the shoe. The background color makes it stand out and it, therefore, catches the eye of the audience easily. The advert does not cause irritation due to the use of bright colors. The colors are cool enough to attract the attention of the audience while ensuring they do not irritate the eyes of the audience.


In conclusion, the pervasive and widespread advertising worldwide transgress images of perfection and individuals` fuzziness of perception. For a long time, people continue to be objects of foolery from the adverts. This causes psychological and social degradation of ethics and morals. Some decades ago, adverts used to maintain morals and ethics. Nowadays, however, social and moral values degrade each day due to exposure to these adverts. Women are portrayed as instruments of sexual fantasies. In this advert, for example, the model, who looks like a classy woman, is used to portray how weak women are in society. This misconception degrades the social status of women in society.

In order to combat the issue that is gradually becoming a global concern, parents and other educators need to advise the younger generation about the implications of exposure to the falsehood of these types of advertisements. No one desires to see a young generation of perverts who take women as sex objects and think that nudity is a usual trait in society. The blame of moral devaluation is therefore on the media for allowing broadcasting such materials. There should be a burn imposed on any form of media that supports these adverts. An advert like this (appendix 1) should not meet the eyes of the public if we desire to bring the glory of moral uprightness to our society.




Berkman, H. W., & Gilson, C. C. (1987). Advertising, concepts and strategies. Crawfordsville, IN: Random  House.

Kazmi, S. H., & Batra, S. K. (2009). Advertising & Sales Promotion. New Delhi: Excel Books.

Rao, P. (2010). Comprehensive Hrm. Delhi: Excel Books.

Shimp, T. A. (2010). Advertising, Promotion, and Other Aspects of Integrated Marketing  Communications. Independence, KY: Cengage Learning.

Sut Jhally. (1990, July 2). Image¬ Based Culture: Advertising and Popular Culture. Retrieved April 16, 2013, from The World and I: