Sex Appeal and Advertisements

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The average person is exposed to over 1,700 banner ads a month, but only half are seen. That is roughly 850 banner ads an individual is actually exposed to monthly. Advertisements seen online seem show people what they like, such as clothes, cars, and television shows. By showing something of interest, an individual is more likely to look at the advertisement and investigate further into what it offers. Humans are naturally sexual beings, and this is only proven through the type of media exposed to the public. On the highway, people can see women plastered in little clothing across billboards, attractive men holding a beer, etc. When shown something sexual in nature, a person is likely to stare, and focus on what the advertisement is showing. A Winston Cigarettes poster from the 1950’s tells a lot about the society of the time, and who really is the seller of the product. The company used a variety of methods to catch one’s attention in this advertisement, though one tactic is clear: sex appeal.

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The advertisement has a lot of things going on, in both the foreground and the background. Robert Cummings stands on the left side of the poster, looking back at a scantily-clad woman. The two are at a photo set, and the woman is flirtatiously handing Robert a Winston cigarette. He looks at her with interest, whilst adjusting what appears to be a light of some sort, and states half of the Winston slogan, “Winston tastes good!” The woman to the right of him states the other half, “Like a cigarette should!” This dialogue comes off as a flirty banter, and shows a sense of chemistry between both Robert and the model. Throughout the entirety of the poster, there is sex appeal. However, some of the appeal in the advertisement isn’t as visible to the naked eye.

Color has a surprisingly large affect on how humans react to certain things. The colors seen in one’s day-to-day life make them feel different ways, “The language of colour is communicated quicker to the brain than words or shapes as they work directly on our feelings and emotions”. This makes the use of color so effective in advertisements. In the Winston advertisement, one color pops out more than any other: Red. Red is the company’s color, but why? Well, red omits all sorts of feelings in the human body. The color psychology of the color red would be love, romance, energy, life, etcetera. The Winston Cigarette Company may be wanting to omit feelings of energy, and excitement for the person looking to purchase their product. Robert Cummings also wears red, from the surface, it appears like he’s just wearing the company color. However, it’s been scientifically proven that red makes humans look more attractive. The company could be using Robert’s sex appeal to attract a broader audience, perhaps a predominantly female one. Robert Cummings was a popular actor of the 1940’s and 50’s, getting his start on Broadway. In the advertisement, he is on set for a photoshoot, “…his most popular role was as a playboy photographer in The Bob Cummings Show”. He starred in over 100 lead roles in film, but of all those, the advertisement chose the film based around a playboy photographer to showcase their product. This was no mistake. The context of being a playboy photographer in the film, wearing red, and working with beautiful women was the perfect mix to grab consumer’s attention.

Sex is something humans crave. The wanting for it is a biological trait, and advertising companies take advantage of that. They use female sexuality to gain attention, particularly showcasing the female body. They also use famous faces to catch interest, in this case that person being Robert Cummings. To keep things to a not-so-obvious level, companies also use color psychology. In the particular ad analyzed, red was the attention-grabber. This color causes one to omit feelings of excitement and life, which a company wants a consumer to feel when using their product. Advertising companies are smart, and they use human psychology to sell what they need to.     

Advertisements use different techniques to catch our attention without being so blatantly obvious about it. The model in the poster is pretty, as models are. She sits on some sort of stump in front of a sky blue and cloudy background. I had mentioned earlier how she was dressed scantily clad, wearing a one-piece bathing suit. The bathing suit itself is the same shade of the background, bringing attention to her exposed legs, arms, and chest area. This was likely included to gain male attention to the advertisement. Scientifically, it’s been proven that men think about sex more often than women do: “…on average, men think about sex 19 times a day. The average woman thinks about sex 10 times a day”. This shows that sex is very present in the human mind, and the inclusion of that in ad, will get attention, and ideally, sell the intended product.

24 May 2022

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