Blog Post: Cultural Communication – Commodity as a Spectacle

345 words | 2 page(s)

It is no secret that it is the visual image that “plays the primary role in commerce in contemporary societies” (Sturken & Cartwright, p. 189), just as it is no secret that sex sells, or that advertising influences the content of that which we as members of society purchase, work to emulate, or strive for, either consciously or unconsciously (Steinem, p. 20). The situation becomes worse in women’s magazines, wherein the advertisers are the ones who work to dictate what is contained within its pages, and “the higher the rating of editorial believability, the higher the rating of the advertising” within the pages of the magazine itself (Steinem, p. 27); take for example Ms. magazine who were pressured by cigarette ad placement, and in those advertisements the women smoking the cigarettes had to be beautiful (Steinem, p. 26).

Capri was one of the many cigarettes that was famous for this, requiring a woman with expertly done makeup, wearing the most stylish clothes of the time and appearing to enjoy herself while smoking (Werner, 2012). The message conveyed is that “you too could look as well put together as this woman, and as carefree, if you were to smoke our cigarettes.” These advertisements were paired with higher rated editorial articles in order to be able to work to increase the advertisement’s rating, thus working to effectively stymie any actual writing that could be contained within the glossy pages of the magazine itself.

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While many different companies use sex in advertising in order to drive product purchases, many different companies have taken it a step further in order to work to enhance their advertising through the use of other objects, thereby attempting to increase sales through the use of visual imaging, a process that may be considered distasteful, but one that has worked for the advertising agencies for years.

  • Steinem, Gloria. “Sex, Lies & Advertising.” Ms. July 1990: 18-28. Print.
  • Sturken, Marita, and Lisa Cartwright. Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture. Oxford ; New York: Oxford UP, 2001. Print.
  • Werner. “Pre-Class, Ch 42: Circulation and Gas Exchange.” The Bioside. Pearson, 22 Feb. 2012. Web. 06 Oct. 2013. .

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