An Unlucky Time for Women
by arimonkey on February 27, 2017 - 8:00am
Sex sells, and it’s no secret that advertisers take advantage of this fact. After just a look at the advertisements for some of today’s most popular brands, one can almost effortlessly conclude that a large number of them use sexual images to grasp their viewers’ attention. However, this is not the only conclusion one can draw from observing these ads, the other being that many of them sexually objectify the female figure featured in them. Many advertisers do so by using “the image of the ideal beautiful women” in their work, regardless of the product they are trying to sell, since they are aware that their viewers will react to it and spend money on the brand being promoted (Cortese 10). One of the many ads in which this advertising strategy can be observed is one by Bet Promotions.
In a tweet by the twitter account BetPromotions4U, Bet Promotions encouraged their followers to bet on a soccer match involving Liverpool, and linked them to bet-at-home.com, an online gambling website (Oakes). This ad features a woman pulling down her jeans to expose underwear that have the phrase “if you can read this it’s your lucky day” written on them in capital letters. Furthermore, nothing more but this slim woman’s lower stomach, upper thighs, and hands are visible in the photograph.
This advertisement proved to be very problematic since, aimed at a misogynistic audience, it links gambling to sexual success, and portrays women as a prize to won (Oakes). The artist behind it chose to use an image of a perfect, slender woman to promote gambling, although this activity is hardly related to sexuality is any way, shape, or form. Furthermore, one of the easiest ways to objectify a person is to hide their face, and Bet Promotions did so in their ad, only showing their audience singular body parts of the woman pictured. Shortly after it was released, the Advertising Standards Authority, an organization that regulates ads in the United Kingdom, claimed that it went against the Committee of Advertising Practice Code, and required that Bet Promotions delete the tweet that contained it (Oakes).
We live in a society cluttered with millions of media sources, television channels, internet websites, etc. This has become the root of a major problem because, in order to break through this clutter, people must do more and more shocking things in order to get attention (Siebel Newsom 1:12:10). To accomplish this, many people resort to “sexually offensive or demeaning images”, much like Bet Promotions did, because they know it will give them the attention they desire (Siebel Newsom 1:12:15). However, images such as the one released by Bet Promotions are extremely harmful to men and women alike. Since they are aimed at men, they teach them that “attractiveness is [a woman’s] only attribute”, and that that people who identify with this gender are sexual objects existing solely for their enjoyment (Cortese 10). It also, in a way, makes men feel as if they are entitled to sexual pleasure and that women have no say in the matter since, as they are depicted, they are objects and not people. On the other hand, when females are exposed to these pictures, the message they convey to them is that they should not take up as much space as men, and this ultimately takes from them “the power of being a whole person” (Siebel Newsom 50:30).
Although sex sells, it is not the only thing that does. Advertisers at Bet Promotions could have created an ad that was very different from the one they actually released, and it could have avoided the sexual objectification of women, while still promoting their brand. For instance, the image of money is one that sells very well in our society, given that almost everyone is obsessed with the idea of being rich and finding ways to make money. Therefore, another advertisement possibility would have been to remove the woman from the picture altogether, and take a photo of a large pile of money with their original phrase “if you can read this it’s your lucky day” over it. This ad is one that would spark interest in its viewers, who would be captivated with the idea of making money, and it would not express negative messages about women being sexual objects.
Unfortunately, the fact still remains that Bet Promotions, as well as many other brands, continue to create ads that are offensive to women. Unless this changes, our society will continue to be misled about ideas of femininity and sexuality, and this will negatively impact women and men alike.
Cortese, Anthony. “Constructed Bodies, Deconstructing Ads: Sexism in Advertising”. 345-102-MQ: Gendered World Views, edited by Sarah Waurechen, Eastman Systems, 2017, pp. 9-25.
Miss Representation. Directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Girls’ Club Entertainment, January 22, 2011. Netflix, https://www.netflix.com/ca/watch/70167128.
Oakes, Omar. “Raunchy Betting Ad Banned for Linking Gambling to Sexual Success”. Campaign, April 13, 2016. http://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/raunchy-betting-ad-banned-linking-....