Media Sex Essay Research Paper Sex and

Media Sex Essay, Research Paper

Sex and Manipulation by the Media Most people know that sex appeal is used on us every day,

but few realize that they are also being manipulated through certain words and writing techniques.

The number one method of selling many consumer goods is the use of sex appeal in advertisement.

Of all the methods used in advertising, sex appeal catches the attention best, because it is our

second strongest drive, next to our drive for survival. It is used to sell countless items such as cars,

make up, clothes, cologne and alcohol. It is used everywhere, on billboards, in magazines, and on

television. It was not difficult to find several examples of when and how it is used to persuade us to

buy that certain product. Laws have been made to protect consumers from the lies that advertisers

would feed to us, but advertisers are always finding a way around them. No advertisements are

useful if they fail to catch our attention. Sex appeal is very versatile; it can be used to sell nearly

every product. Charles A. O’Neill states, “The desire to be sexually attractive to others is an

ancient instinct, and few drives are more powerful”(163). One ad for Hanes pantyhose has only

the picture of a woman wearing nothing at all, or so it seems at first glance. It seems strange that

the advertisers would put a nearly nude woman in the ad when they are trying to attract the

attention of females not men who would most likely notice it. Women and men will see the ad and

once you found out that it advertising pantyhose, you’d continue flipping but not before you saw the

company’s name or logo. This is one goal of advertising, to make people aware that there another

company in the race for your business. One ad that I found in a Glamour magazine uses a few

tricks of the trade to sell toenail polish. The ad uses words to express what will happen when you

use Orly Salon Nails . Not only do the words promise things that will not happen it also sends a

hidden message by making a few words stand out. The ad claims that by wearing their nail polish:

your feet will look smaller, your shoes will look sexier, your legs will look longer, and your butt will

look better. I noticed that within the sentences that are written in cursive writing, there are words

that are not written exactly as the rest. The first word is “sexier”. It is written with font much larger

and longer than the rest of the words. Other words that follow this pattern are “longer”, “butt”, and

cheesecake. All of these words appeal to one or more of the things we like. These words do not

have anything to do with the nail polish they are trying to sell us. The end of the article states, “Orly

Salon Nails . So perfect, you’ll forget you did them yourself.” This statement is implying is implying

two things, the ease of applying it and that it looks as though it is professionally done. The most

blatant use of sex appeal I have seen has been in advertisements for cologne and perfumes. One

such ad for Old Spice is a good example. The ad consists of a picture of a man, shirt

unbuttoned, and a woman who has one hand resting on his belt buckle and the other brushing his

shirt back near his waist. The only text the article has says, “It’s all in how you use it.” Advertisers

are always finding ways to get around the laws that forbid them of lying to the public. There are

certain “weasel words” which help accomplish this. William Lutz states in his article, With These

Words I Can Sell You Anything, “The biggest weasel word used in advertising doublespeak is

‘help’” (147). By using the word help the advertisers are not saying that the product will ultimately

accomplish what they claim by itself. An ad for Hanes pantyhose demonstrates this type of

manipulative language. They claim that their hosiery will assist in doing the following things while

wearing them: “protect against swelling, enhance skin tone, deliver a refreshing, massaging effect,

diminish the appearance of cellulite.” First of all, there is no real need to protect against swelling

since it is not a common occurrence in women. Though I haven’t tried for myself, I do not believe

that pantyhose produce any massaging effects. The last falsity in the ad is that the hosiery does not

help enhance skin tone but make it appear that the woman’s legs have better tone. The only true

statement of the four is that it diminishes the appearance of cellulite, but this is true of all hosiery.

The picture in the ad only consists of a woman wearing only hosiery. I find it odd that there is a hint

of sex appeal in the ad because their targeted consumer audience is women. They have a woman

wearing only pantyhose with water splashing down on her chest. It seems as though they tried to

advertise to the men as well. Another good example of advertisers using the word help to imply

certain results is an ad for System-Six. System-six is a drug that was designed to “help” you lose

weight. It uses the word help twice in ad. The ad first claim is that it helps you to lose weight. It is

very common to see the word help and then a list of things the product will do. What this does is

allow the advertisers to show a list of positive results, which is most likely read by the consumer.

The reader will often not notice that it is a list of what the product aids in not accomplishes. Milk

ads, although they appear to be strictly humorous, with famous people wearing the well-known

milk mustache, they also use sex appeal and manipulative language. The woman, standing near a

busy street wearing only a bikini says, “I’m here in the middle of Times Square to show off my best

features. My bones.” If you read the ad and look at the picture it is obvious that the advertisers did

not want to show off her bones, rather her beautiful body. Advertisers often use language that has

no real meaning. Lutz also wrote, “Weasel words appear to say one thing when in fact they say the

opposite, or nothing at all” (147). In an ad for Herbal Essence shampoos and conditioners the

advertisers placed sex appeal into the text of their advertisements, while never saying anything. For

instance, there are five sentences that read, “Ohhh, the organic herbs. Ahhh, the all-natural

botanicals drenched in pure mountain water. Ummm, the way it leaves every strand of your hair

feeling revitalized. Clairol’s Herbal Essence shampoos and conditioners. Oooh, you’ll love it.”

These noises here are obvious reference to sex. One amusing point about this ad is that among

those sentences the last one is the only one that makes a complete thought. Sex appeal is a very

persuasive tool and becomes more so when it is used with the mar-keting tricks. Sex appeal is

most often shown in the pictures in the ad but can also be shown in the text of the ad, as it is used

in the ad for Herbal Essence shampoos and conditioners. The written portions of advertisements

often have sentences that do not illustrate any specific point. Advertisers also use certain “weasel

words” such as “help” and “virtually” which do not promise any specific results but they appear to

consumers that they will.


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