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Cervantes: Sex sells, and we're all buying

BY CHRISTOPHER CERVANTES | APRIL 27, 2015 5:00 AM

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If there is one truth that I have seen when it comes to catching the eye of the consumer, it is that the use of sexual imagery is often the most powerful use of advertisement.

I have seen this type of “sex sells” mindset from the likes of clothing stores, fragrances, and even one for a strangely eccentric grocery store. Probably the most notable store with this racy marketing ideology is the world-renowned franchise Abercrombie & Fitch, whose semi-nude promotional material and live shirtless models have been a constant marketing strategy since as long as I can remember.

It seems as if all of this is about to change however.

As of last week, Abercrombie & Fitch has announced that it will change its image and sexualized advertising techniques to focus on better customer services and more diversity among its in-store personal. Furthermore, the lascivious images featured on their paraphernalia  (bags, gift cards, etc.) and their employees will no longer be referred to as “models” but “brand representatives.”

Personally, I’m all for this change. From a business standpoint, I believe that these changes will makes the brand appear more approachable, thus encouraging continued partisanship and more repeat business. However, from a more sociological standpoint, I believe that this occurrence has brought to light just how much everyone have gotten accustom to such licentious content.

In my free time, I like to watch a lot of vintage television. This has given me ample time to see how public thinking on certain topics and events has changed. Over the decades, the perception of what is publicly appropriate has changed. We have gone from “I Love Lucy” where no character was allowed to say the word “pregnant” on television to basically every other minute of content in “Game of Thrones.” It would seem as if each year, people try to see how much farther they can push. The whole world seems to be comfortable in this more embracive attitude.

Because of these circumstances, it is safe to say that what has been deemed as appropriate and acceptable is now more lenient than ever, and I find that to be worrying. I am worried because we glorify such content with attention and desire. By seeing such content on such a common basis in repetition, it teaches the impressionable people that this is how one should look and act like. And while there may be some emotional exceptions, such train of thoughts will cause a major dip in individualistic self-esteem.

Why does any of this matter? Because the use of sexual appeal in order to catch the attention of the masses may be profitable, but it is also representing a falsehood that all people should look like a certain body type or be shaped a certain way. The only reason I think that a person should ever change their body is because they have come to the conclusion, on their own, to change their appearance. Abercrombie & Fitch is doing the right thing, but I believe that the effort is fruitless. Sex will always be used to sell. It’s modern propaganda and impossible to avoid.


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