On demands and supply of sex in fashion marketing (In response to Fashion Photography)
On Benetton’s advertisement which suggests “localized” globalization and generalized culture
Marc Yeong Jin CHOI
Fashion became one of the most marketed industries in the world as of now; their marketing strategy is rather explicit compared to other industries, such as oil, cigarette, and other rather controversial ones. In the article, the author suggests that fashion photography is way of marketing that is rather discreet and engineered; but they are in fact very explicit, at least to those who are targeted. At the end of the day that is what marketing is; they are made to project the brand’s intention, which is to sell, to people. Along with the progression of information and transportation technology, which accelerated globalization by far, the competition of marketing became very intense and brands started to go more explicit and started to expand their audiences. What can be used to widen the targeted audience and what can catch those eyes? Sex can, as we all know they are very basic demand people have. The question here is whether or not we should consider sex as a medium of expression or as a thing to protect and cover for human’s dignity. The same question goes to prostitution too, many liberal societies have accepted the prostitution as a valid industry. Those societies have recognized the commercialization of sex as a expression of individuals.
Benetton’s campaigns that were criticized for generalizing the culture in the article can also be interpreted as expression; though we need to recognize and respect the individuality and try to avoid generalization, generalization does not necessarily means discrimination. Our individualities are constantly affected by our culture and environment. So our culture plays huge role in our individualities. thus to talk about individuality, we need to talk about our different culture. Some culture has different governing system and ideology. Benetton expressed the difference they saw between USSR and USA. Though I do not think their perspective was accurate, they did not intend any racism. It was the people who saw that difference as a negative thing. At the time USSR’s “rockets” were the hot topic in USA as they were posed as a threat. There are too little context in the picture to tell which side they support. The picture can mean that USSR is a bully but it can also be sarcastic. Our society is too “quick-to-judge”. The main problem we need resolve in these kinds of expression and generalization is the accuracy, not the generalization itself.
Can fashion and fashion advertising successfully address political, economic, or social issues? To what extend?
Fashion can definitely address political, economic, or social issues in very successful ways, but it is not necessarily the case for fashion advertising. Political, economical, and social issues are very popular among across the different class, gender, race and other classifications. And fashion is largely used medium for expression; just like a literature, or paintings. But an advertisement is not; their main purpose is to promote their products and perused viewers to buy them. And talking about political, economical, or social issues, which are often conflicting, is not always a good strategy. Here we need to differentiate fashion design and fashion advertising.
Fashion, or garment, is often produced after fabrication of countless prototypes and conduction of deep, intense research. And as they are three-dimensional medium, there are much more that can be said within a same space compared to other form of arts. But unlike other, more conventional forms of art, fashion is mass-produced. So unlike Sally Mann’s very explicit pictures, fashion has to sell more than 4 pieces and having explicit ideas on it would be a huge risk in terms of sales. It is like this in art as well; good art is created with the idea and the bad art is created for the idea. Yes it can address those issues successfully but in ought to do so the ideas should be clear and well articulated and rather explicit for more readers.
We should be very careful when we advertise, the contents, when its printed and presented, is no longer feasible and is inconsistent. And at the same time social, economical, or political issues always comes with conflicts and disagreements and the brands should risk loosing those who oppose the idea it promotes. Good advertisement campaign is to capture as many people as possible, thus it is hard to be specific and clear which often indicates the successful address of those issues.