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Sex in advertising has been the theme of much 20th Century American
Advertising. It seems like all we see these days are advertisements which use
the human body and sexuality to sell all kinds of products from food and cars to
colognes and exercise equipment. It is virtually impossible to tune into any
type of media they days and not encounter some type of an ad which uses
sexuality to sell it's product. Most of the time sexuality and the use of the
product in a real world setting is irrelevant, but for centuries if sexual
connotation is put upon the use of a certain product then the product has been a
success in the market place. In the following pages we will be analyzing an ad
for Robert Lee Morris Watches, placed in Harper's Bazzar, which uses the concept
of "sex" to sell it's watches. For a copy of the ad please refer to the end of
this report. We will be applying the basic Principles of Advertising to help
use critique this ad.
Objectives and Mission
The objectives of any company using the concept of using "Sex" in it's
advertising campaigns are clear. The company wants to appeal to the conscious
level of the target market to sell it's product. The company wants to appeal to
the consumer who appreciates his/her sexuality and will spend a few extra
dollars to look especially sexy. The mission of this type of advertising is to
convince the target market that the product, in this case a watch, is essential
to their need and want to be seductive and portray that image to his/her fellow
Before any company decides what kind of an ad will be used to represent
their company and their product, they will need to consider their target
consumer. The advertising agency will need to take personal influences and
environmental forces into consideration. While choosing a type of ad, it is
very important that the advertiser take marketing stimuli into consideration,
these stimuli include: demographic factors, cultural/social influences, and
reference groups. The advertiser needs to understand the perceptions, motives,
needs, personalities, lifestyles, and attitudes of their target market.
In this ad, it is obvious that the advertiser is trying to appeal to the
fashion conscious woman in her 20's or 30's with a moderately high income level
who could spend a few extra dollars for the sake of being fashionable. The ad
is placed in a high class fashion magazine which shares the company's target
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Finally, consumer analysis can be thought of the most important of the
Principles of Advertising. If an ad is positioned to appeal to the interests of
anyone but the target market, then the ad would simply be a waste of precious
time and resources.
Advertising effectiveness is a measure to see how effective the
advertisement is on consumer recognition and intentions on buying a certain
product. There are two kinds of classifications of advertising effectiveness.
The first is the communication effects and the second is sales effectiveness.
The Robert Lee Morris Watches uses the second type, sales effectiveness. Sales
effectiveness measures the impact of advertisement on sales. There are three
types of sales effectiveness a company can use. They are inquiry testing,
direct response and market testing. Robert Lee Morris Watches uses the inquiry
test method. We know that they use this method because they offer a toll free
phone in the upper left hand corner of the advertisement. The ad does not offer
a lot of content in regard to words. They want the consumer to call them and
tell them what they think about the ad and to inquire about additional
Creative Strategy & Creative Appeals
The "big idea" for a creative strategy in regards to the concept of
sexual appeal in advertisement is virtually to attract the attention and
maintain the visual process of the incoming information. Sex in advertisement
grabs the attention of a sexual attitude of behavior for the targeted audience.
The "love/sex" creative appeal directly impacts the emotions leading to a change
in attitude or behavior of the targeted audience. Sexual appeal may be
displayed by using naked bodies, illustrative emphasis on attractive body parts,
and romantic or intimate moments for selling a hopeful image to the target
market. The image of sexual feelings, therefore, lead audiences to believe that
the purchase of the product will lead to fulfillment of being part of that
Four components make up the focus for the creative side of advertising.
First of all, the "Big Idea" is the starting point and it is important because
it is what the audience looks at. The idea must be created to grab the
attention of the audience and differentiate the product from other related
products in a magazine ad. The "Big Idea" can jump out of the ad, leading the
audience to an illusion of "wow" (product image) for purchase and increase in
sales. In the magazine ad chosen, the big idea presents the Robert Lee Morris
Watch by using a lady's naked waist and having her wear the watch on her wrist
as she tries to cover up her private body part.
Robert Lee Morris ad does not present the display of the watch to the
audience in a surrounding that a watch would normally be involved in. the idea
of wearing a watch while unclothed is irrelevant to a watch wearing purpose.
The ad dresses the watch displayed on her wrist by making it visually inviting
for the audience to recognize product, create an image of the watch and brand
name, and positioning the ad in an environment for the upper class consumer.
The ad is placed in Harper's Bazzar to appeal to the more fashion wise and image
conscious shoppers who are usually earning a substantial amount of income to
dress for this image.
The creative process designs the ad's originality for product
differentiation. Using the concept of sex in advertisement is very common in
the advertising industry for all media types. The magazine ad must create a
powerful impact on the audience, which the Robert Lee Morris ad does. The ad's
creative process uses demonstration to present the product and brand name,
unique selling proposition which focus on the correlated attributes between the
beauty of the watch and the beauty of the woman, resonance by printing an ad
that makes you think about the ad, and image by the unity of layout and
positioning of the ad.
The particular layout strategy in this ad is to use a large photograph
and a few words to grab the reader's attention. The photograph primarily
accomplishes this with its sexual design. The words Robert Lee Morris Watches
are strongly supported by the picture. The idea is that the lady has nothing on
but she still is wearing the watch. Now, it may seem that only these elements
are what make the ad appealing, but there are other qualities that participate
in the overall appearance of the ad. These certain qualities are referred to as
layout qualities. The layout qualities most pertinent to this ad are balance,
contrast, proportion and gaze motion.
The balance of an ad pertains to the placement of elements on a page.
Formal balance is when the elements are evenly placed on a page and informal
balance is when the elements are unevenly placed on a page. The elements in
this ad are the photograph of the woman wearing the watch and the words used to
designate a brand of watch. By observing the article one could tell that the
strategy here is to use informal balance, because the elements are not
completely centered on the page. For example, the woman in the photograph is
standing at an angle which makes the left and right borders completely different.
The left border is a curvaceous hip while the right border is more linear, with
the woman's hand reaching straight down. Another example of informal balance in
this ad is the placement of "Robert Lee Morris Watches." The phrase is not
centered, instead it is placed on the right portion of the ad. There is on
other phrase to counter it on the left side. The informal balance of this
article may seem like it is a bad thing, because the elements are not evenly
dispersed, however, informal balance is what makes the ad appealing.
The contrast of the ad deals with it's shape and color. It there is any
shape that could be used to describe this ad, it would be the shape of an "S."
by looking at the left side of the ad, the woman's hip is a mirror image of the
letter "S." The color also plays an important role because readers envision the
ad to be a real naked person wearing a watch, by virtue of the actual color of a
woman being used. The color is not exaggerated as to project a sense of fantasy.
The actual color projects a real person and therefore makes the ad more
concrete and believable.
The proportion of this ad is key. The entire page is encompassed by the
photograph of the woman. The picture lies in the background while the words are
in the foreground. By using this approach the picture and the words can be
viewed separately. It can be seen from big (woman's picture) to small (Robert
Lee Morris Watches).
Gaze motion is another quality of layout that plays an important role in
this ad. Gaze motion has to do with how a person' eyes move through an ad.
This particular would be referred to as an S-gaze, because a person's eye moves
through the ad in the shape of an "S." This is very evident on the left side of
the ad where the woman's hip is shaped like an S. With S-gaze a reader may
start at the torso, follow it down to the curvaceous hip, which leads directly
to this most sexual part.
The message strategy is the strategy used by advertisers to convey the
idea of the advertisement. The message strategy consists of the selling premise
and execution. The selling premise is the sales logic behind an advertising
message. It can be a claim, benefit, promise, reason why or a unique selling
proposition. The selling premise that our ad, Robert Lee Morris Watches uses is
a unique selling proposition, which is sex appeal. It is not a unique selling
position in the sense that on one has ever used sex appeal before. It is unique
considering what they are selling, which is watches. The use of an almost
completely nude woman to sell a watch is unique. The other element of message
strategy is execution. Execution is the form taken by the finished ad. The
execution of the ad was done very well and accomplished what they set out to do.
When considering the message strategy one must decide if they want the
ad to be on the conscious level, being able to perceive the message, or
subconscious, being below the consciousness of the senses. Our ad uses the
conscious level, more specifically, the sight. The advertisers want the
consumer to see the partial