Friday, February 13, 2015


When driving, I don't usually pay attention to advertisements along the roadways. Lately, odd billboard photos catch my attention, but fleetingly: One or more men wearing only briefs or boxers, in modestly lascivious poses, advertising all-manner of products and services: IT, hardware stores, or whatever.

The men are not particularly in good physical shape; their facial expressions are fairly blank--neither playful nor suggestive, just matter-of-fact--reminiscent of high-fashion models' blank stares.

I am puzzled by these billboards. What is the point? 
By contrast, bringing to consciousness the ongoing and overtly exploitive use of women's overly-sexy bodies/poses in advertising campaigns?
Lessening the sexist sting of objectification of women by objectifying men too?
Poking fun at the ridiculousness of using human bodies as a sales technique?
Decreasing Americans' prudish response to sexuality by flooding our awareness with non-sexual images of male near-nudity?
If body-related advertisements work for men, similar advertisements should work for women?

At least, maybe, the ad execs are finally attempting to include 64% of the US population in capitalism. Although these billboards catch my attention by their quirkiness, I am no more compelled to purchase their advertised products. Like billboards using female bodies (I assume), my attention goes to the bodies in the short amount of time I fly by in my car. I gather no information about the product/service and am no more compelled to buy their product/service than any other.

I am slightly curious, not offended, not titillated. But I am irritated by the marketing use of normal, ordinary, every-day male bodies in comparison to the use of only-the-most-voluptuous female bodies to sell products. Similar to using female bodies (I assume) in ads, I am distracted by the photos and only minimally, if at all, attentive to the actual service/product being sold. Effective marketing?

Ad execs get paid more money than I to create images and sounds that produce motivation and yearning and willingness to part with a buck. I am confused about the overall purpose and efficacy of such a seemingly distracting strategy.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) February 10, 2015

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