Illusions of Sex in Advertisements

Posted on May 9, 2011


By Kimone Currithers.

Advertisers use sex in advertisement to manipulate people into buying their products, goods, and services.  Sex in advertisement can be considered as an illusion, similar to the “shadows” on the wall, as described in Plato’s, “The Allegory of the cave”. Plato writes of prisoners in the cave who can only see images on a wall ,and concludes, all in all, then what people in this situation would take for truth would be nothing more than the shadows of manufactured objects”(1). Fundamentally, Plato suggests that people who are uneducated or limited in knowledge of something are unaware of their ignorance and cannot know what the truth is until it’s pointed out to them, and they accept it as it really is. The truth about perpetuated false beliefs of sex in advertisement is that, it does not give the audience what it really promises and can be very dangerous and harmful to society.

Some of illusions that are presented by advertisers may imply that the product will bring you “better sex and a sexier you”. They also portray in their advertisements that if someone buys the product, he or she will feel better about self and people will ultimately conform.  For example, I saw an advertisement recently with a girl who was not so “cool” make a major transformation over night because she used a perfume called “Diamond”.  The next day, everybody wanted to be her friend. What the advertisement is saying is buy “Diamond” and it will make you popular over night. This is also considers as an empty promise, because there is no way a perfume will have the power to make someone popular simply because of scent. This person will be the same, “a not so cool person”. If you fall for their illusions and buy it, it is because it was a trick to get you to buy it.

Victoria's Secrets Angels

An Example of this is the Victoria’s Secret ads, featuring the “Victoria’s Secret Angels.”  Victoria’s Secret Angels is one of the most popular examples of the so-called, ‘Sexy” advertising campaigns. For consumers, it makes sense to use sex to sell lingerie, men’s cologne, and even liquor. This is also considered to be, “shadows” on the wall according to the theoretical concept of Plato taken from, “In the Allegory of the cave”. It promises a, “sexier you” when obviously it cannot fulfill the promises because it is an illusion to get you to buy their products.
Another example is a German ad advertising a Vacuum. That’s right. A company in Germany sells their household appliances, including vacuums, using images of women in fishnets and men tied up. Maybe Slave & Master do something for those looking to purchases a new vacuum. Who knew buying a vacuum could do all of that? Look carefully .or you may miss the point of the ads. The truth is if you purchase the machine it does not give you control, it gives you a clean floor. Kilbourne also state in “Two Ways a Woman Can Get Hurt” that “Advertisers use sex to get our attentions and that they make exaggerated claims about a product’s ability to make us attractive, popular and successful”(1). In addition, that is exactly what the Germany Household Appliances company did into getting people to buy their vacuums and other household products.

Renova Toilet Paper Ad

A third example is a Renova toilet paper ad.  Renova is a toilet paper brand. What is so sexy about toilet paper? Nothing is! Yet they put a half naked man and woman in their ad The woman looks like she is caressing the man’s leg while pulling down his under wear, while the man is looking at her with a seductive sexual look and feelings. The empty promises of this ad is when you use Renova toilet paper you will either have a man or a woman with you to take off your under wear with a seductive look on their faces knowing what is going to happen.

Finally, a coffee ad from Italy provides a fourth example.

Sexy Beans

Coffee makes everyone think of sex, doesn’t it? Maybe not! This ad is showing a man and a woman with this wild, sexual and animalistic look getting closer to each other, with coffee covering the lower halves of their bodies, with the man’s hands held up as if it is tied to a tree as the woman holds back her neck for the men to kiss it or smell it. The promise is that when you use their coffee or drink it, your animal instinct kicks in and you get wilder sex, which is simply not true. For some people, it keeps them awake and others it makes them relax and focus, it does not get you wilder sex or anything like that, bag of empty promises.

Advertisers use sex to manipulate people to buy their products. According to Kilbourne in, “Two Ways a Woman Can Get Hurt”, the author states, “Most of us like to think of ourselves as immune to the power of ads” (1), which is a true statement. This is how so of the advertisers gets us to buy their products. We think we have to buy them because of the way they advertise it, normally with a lot of sexual focus. These Advertisers uses fetish behavior of people in their ads and the objectification of others. Before you buy anything, consider what is driving your desires to buy the product. Is it sex?  Because these illusion and empty promises the advertisers sells us can be prevented if we look beyond the ads. Once you start thinking about what you to buy and why you buy it, you are super informed, and can avoid these illusions and empty promises advertisers portray in their ads.