Because Sex Sells!

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By Mojalefa Maieane

This article is exclusive to the online Edition 2 (Wrap Edition) of VARSITY Newspaper.


The sexier the better, right? We’ve all heard the saying “sex sells”, and it’s true. In light of this era of a sex-driven media sphere and hyper-aware consumers, the media seems to have turned to a sinister and dark force to impose, promise and intrigue a world after perfection, pleasure and contentment.

Advertising is at the core of our daily lives. Adverts provide crucial information on what to buy. Most adverts do what they are supposed to do with splendid grace, while others go for snippets of humour that soon trend and make social media explode, but others go for a more provocative approach. Yes! You know what I am talking about. That sly comment, that dark chocolate man with an army of women by his side, wearing a suit, and then another scene with him topless.  This brings me to a question as old as time; how provocative can it get before it is too provocative?

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Now, sometimes, provocative tactics are suitable and appropriate. Take perfume adverts, for example. Those are always really sexy. In the end, it’s all about the money, the sales and the buzz, but is all buzz good buzz? Obviously, if the advert is harmful or offensive to a group of people, particularly marginalised populations, it becomes problematic.

The incident regarding H&M stores set the country ablaze when they released their new range of hoodies with a black child wearing hoodie, that branded him as a monkey. The country questioned the motives of this company, with some labelling it a deliberate jab at human dignity while others simply just labelled it as an innocent mistake. This advertisement proved one thing: if limits are crossed that threaten the human dignity of a marginalised group, that group will stand up.



The society we live in has a lot of imperfections, but the one thing we seem to be perfecting is standing up and fighting when we need to. Rihanna is a primary example of this. Let me take you back to her clapback, with her song S&M a few years ago, which openly challenged the attack she was receiving from the press, and her more recent clapback against Snapchat’s tasteless reference to her domestic violence incident. The app lost more than a billion dollars.

We should ask ourselves why advertisers even decide to go down this route. Let’s face it: when brands’ advertisements cause some kind of controversy, conversations are started, and they broaden the reach of their brand.



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