Legs Open to Advertising

Put the children to bed, lock your door, relax in you’re desk chair or on the bed and type those formidable words into the keyboard of your computer:

Controversial Advertising

With images such as these who needs porn? You’ve got everything from Burger King, PETA (Animal Rights Activism), to Anti-Smoking Advertising, and big fashion labels such as Gucci and Dolce and Gabbana it’s obvious sex sells. However as it becomes easier and easier to spot a controversial advertisement, companies must come up with more and more subtle, yet equally as eye catching ways to promote their buisness. One such advertisement is American Apparel’s ‘Now Open’ poster:   american-apparel-ad-amsterdam-nowopen-06

Although it seems the meaning and the implied meaning of the image are fairly on parr as it literally depicts a model wearing a black leotard, with her legs spread eagle, and ‘Now Open’ written in bold black text at the top of the page. It can be said this is a clever and sassy way to advertise the opening of a new store, much similar to the McDonalds advertisement. With the light illuminating the models legs, as well as the white hemming on her leotard, the advertisement almost points the way to the new store, with the tip of an arrow being the models vagina.

Although as the image is an advertisement, it seems the controversial context, is almost justified, despite the model’s risky position. However with Business Insider reporting that one of six women in the US have been sexually abused, it seems the normalisation of sexualisation within advertising has blurred the lines between what is considered appropriate, especially within the work place.

By placing a ‘Now Open’ sign beside a model with her legs open, derives connotations of a woman’s vagina being a place of business. If the brand American Apparel wasn’t well known, the advertisement could also have been used to advertise anything from the opening of a new brothel. After the advertisement was released, American Apparel made a conscious effort to defend itself, stating, “we did our best to abide by the standards of the industry as well as creating authentic, honest and memorable images relevant to [our] customer base” it’s clear to see that if anything, image is certainly memorable.

Green, D (2013), ’15 Ads that Glorify Sexual Violence Against Women’, Business Insider, May 19th, accessed: 19th March, <http://www.businessinsider.com.au/sex-violence-against-women-ads-2013-5#the-context-this-is-a-famously-bad-old-ad-from-the-1960s-surely-nothing-like-this-would-be-approved-for-paid-media-today-1


4 thoughts on “Legs Open to Advertising

  1. Well argument and well written. I agree that we the media is so saturated by sexualised images and i think society has become almost immune to most. Therefore companies continue to push boundaries, even knowing they might be too risque. Would you agree this is the conscious intentions of advertisement companies, that any publicity is good publicity?

    • I’m not sure I agree 100% that ‘any publicity is good publicity’, think Paris Hilton/Kimmy K… they both essentially became ‘big names’ through sexy time. Something i’m sure not many would want to be known for. Although, perhaps if the quote was ‘smart publicity is good publicity’ that would be more appropriate… it would all depend if the individual thought about how the actions in the present would effect the future. Thanks for the comment Bridget!

      • True, personally it wouldn’t be nice to be know for such things but in an advertising firms perspective, even a controversial advertisement would generate buzz, perhaps more then a socially acceptable one. If this extra exposure is the intention of the company then couldnt the campaign be considered successful? In the end its dolla dolla billz yo.

      • Yes I think it def could be considered successful. I think, sometimes people aim to be controversial, ie the Marc Jacobs ‘Oh Lola’ advertisement. Jacobs even states “Lolita is the little of the controversial novel by Vladimir Nabokov, about a middle-aged man’s sexual obsession for a 12-year-old girl. It is now a term widely used to describe a sexually precocious young girl”. He knew all along exactly what he was getting himself into. Sly dog 😉

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