Thursday, 20 September 2007

Here's some tits - now buy our product

Londoners (and possibly those further afield - I'm not sure how far this campaign has spread) can't fail to have noticed that The Sun is now 20p. The reason they can't fail to have noticed is because of the advertisements emblazoned across the side of buses, featuring a topless woman whose tits are covered by two giant 10ps.

People have understandably been up in arms about the vile objectification inherent in this, but I don't think I've ever heard anybody mention, with regards to this or to similar such campaigns, what really pisses me off about it: the assumption that the consumer is a heterosexual male.

To be honest, I'm not that bothered about the assumption that I don't read The Sun. But sexualised images of women's bodies are used to sell so many products and services that have little or no male bias. I was living in Reading a couple of years ago and once saw a billboard at the train station that made me shriek with rage (actually shriek, on a train platform...nobody took any notice though - there are a lot of nutters around these days). It was an advertisement for a local printing company, featuring a woman whose modesty was concealed by strategically placed bits of paper, with the suggestion that she might remove them if you were to use this company for your printing needs.

Uptight types might have been appalled by the idea of any flesh on show at all, liberal types might have been appalled by the idea that impressionable people such as teenage boys are subjected to such blatant objectification, but what I found so unbelievably offensive was the idea that this company was only marketing itself to heterosexual men. The implication was that a woman (or indeed a gay man) couldn't possibly have responsibility for deciding what printing company to use, because women just file things and answer the phone. Or indeed pose as bait for men, who are of course ruled entirely by their dicks.

I hope the company went out of business - they certainly deserved to. Even if they provided a good printing service, I'll bet that even men who appreciated the aesthetic qualities of the advertisement and weren't bothered by its sexism would have been turned off by the idea that they made no mention of how great their products or services were, instead using the cheap shot of a naked woman.

I actually fail to see how a campaign such as this could possibly be effective. Heterosexual males comprise less than 50% of the population. Unless you are actually just selling porn (and even The Sun doesn't fall into this category) it's utterly, incomprehensibly stupid just to target this one group. What are they thinking? WHY does this sort of thing continue?

7 comments:

Jez said...

You are quite right. Another reason such advertising is objectionable is that as part of their presumed target audience, the heterosexual male, I find such advertisements insult my intelligence. Heterosexual men are not (all) cavemen.

The Urban Feminist said...

Jez, I totally agree. That's a point I should have made. I think there are fewer of them now than there used to be perhaps...

I've got to admit though, I actually really like the Lynx commercials. They're just SO ridiculous they're a parody of themselves. I don't think anyone actually takes them seriously and I don't think they're intended to be taken seriously either. At least, that's what I hope... :s

Anonymous said...

Hear bloody hear. Great post.

Justin Megawarne said...

Come on, it’s obvious. Sun readers are ruled by their genitalia!

Anonymous said...

The adverts just saying - all that's standing between you and some nipples is 20 pence - which i gather is pretty much true of the Sun. Also I'm sure that there has been a significant amount of market research into who reads the Sun and why. They're just trying to appeal to their target audience.

All products try and appeal to a certain group in the population. There will always be anomalies but I can understand why the Sun isn't aiming it's advertising at gay men.

Rich said...

I remember reading something by an advertising executive that suggested that if you don't like an advert, or think it's stupid, you are generally not part of the target audience. Example: Us (supposedly) intelligent, thoughtful urban twentysomethings are not likely to read a sensationalist tabloid such as the Sun anyway. Why bother trying to appeal to us? Appeal to stupid people who'll eagerly lap up the trash they peddle! There are far more of them!

Another example: Stannah stairlifts - the adverts are bloody boring, old-fashioned and cheap. Guess who likes those things? Old people!

Not that I think it's defensible that the Sun uses tits and arse to lure people in. It's just that the people they appeal to are the kind of Essex lads who couldn't give a shit about feminism or discrimination and actually think being stupid is a badge of honour.

Rich said...

Jez - interestingly, when Nuts first arrived on the scene, I enjoyed it. I thought it was funny, fun, actually relatively intelligent and not just obsessed with girls (although yes, generally obsessed with 'laddish' things). Over the first year though, it started to market things by "TOPLESS FOR THE FIRST TIME" and continually having vacuous moronic reality TV stars taking their clothes off - and that seemed to be its entire focus. I have not bought a copy now for some years as I find it insulting.