The iconic Australian brand of UGG Boots sells sheepskin boots in a variety of different styles. The advertisement shown is part of the 2011 Summer/Autumn collection. It shows a thin, naked woman sitting in a juvenescent and suggestive position. By making direct eye contact and sitting with one leg bent, it gives the impression of immaturity, youth and bold; juvenescence. Her position also carefully situates her with her long hair carefully placed to hide her breasts and a leg covering her genitals. This creates a foolish, and bashful atmosphere. The only piece of clothing the woman is wearing are a pair of Ugg boots. The model is also positioned to be curving her back, which is a physical sign of insecurity and being uncomfortable; manipulated.
The model is a thin, tanned woman with long brown hair and has flawless skin. This creates an idealistic and unrealistic ideal figure for a woman or girl. It is very common in the marketing industry to “touch-up” or “airbrush” photos. This is when computer software is used to manipulate a photo to remove any blemishes and even change the shape and figure of the model. It is impossible to know what advertisements are affected, including this ad, without seeing the original photographs. According to an anonymous retoucher in the industry, 100% of all marketing in fashion has been tampered with. Considering this, it is very likely that the model shown in the advertisement is physically distorted to portray an impossible ideal.
The lighting is very specifically chosen to highlight the model’s bare legs and posterior. The light also highlights her face, most specifically her cheeks, eyes and lips. This is routine of the hyper sexualisation of women in the media which highlights the lips, breasts and butt on a woman’s body. The lighting chosen also makes the model’s skin look soft and warm, suggesting that the boot is too. The choice of colour also creates a vector to the model’s sky blue eyes. The direct eye contact creates a intimate and sensual vibe. This gives the impression of being sexual. According to the Christopher Cobb “Feeling Wheel,” the colour blue is associated with being guilty, ashamed, inferior and bashful. This creates a manipulative atmosphere, and for a male audience, would be sexually appealing. The next most prominent thing in the photo, are her dark brown boots. According to the Christopher Cobb “Feeling Wheel,” the colour brown is associated with feeling scared, weak, foolish and submissive. This once again reinforces the sexual appeal.
The main irony of this photo is the fact that the actual product of the Ugg boots isn’t very pretty or appealing, however once the sex-appeal was added, the product was instantly engaging and tempting for the consumer audience.
UGG is a universal brand that has products for all consumer; man, woman, child, fair, dark etc. This means that the demographic and target audience for this advert is a very large range. This specific advertisement featured in fashion magazines in Australian and Japan. According to Shannon Mckay, Fashion magazines are generally more targeted towards women, with a median age of 35 years old, however these magazines are for all ages (it is debatable whether or not that is always appropriate). In considering this, young girls and boys are exposed to this kind of media, which can have adversely negative effects on their self-worth and identity due to this being a fundamental time in the development of their mental and physical identity.
The underlying message of this advertisement is that the product, the UGG Boots, are desirable. The model in the photo is naturally beautiful, and through the process of association (the fact that a beautiful woman is wearing these boots) makes consumer think that this is a good product. The main underlying messages that the ad portrays are that the product is soft and warm, and that it is natural. As shown before, the digital augmentation ( digital smoothening tools to remove blemishes, and colour correction to bring a warm tanned look to the model; this is also referred to as being ”sun-kissed”) use of a of the photo portrays the model’s skin as soft and warm. The woman is shown to be naked, with minimal make-up (which is known in the beauty industry as “natural makeup”). The image also seeks to create a correlation between the model’s unadorned natural beauty and the product. It creates a sense that the boot itself, is natural and is unique and beautiful in that sense. This is shown through the placement of the model’s hair and the choice that me model be naked. The model’s hair is shown to look, scruffy and long as if to show her hair naturally.
With the invention of mobile phones, being able to ensure that advertising reaches only the targeted audience is very hard. This results in children being exposed to images that they don’t have the confidence and self-esteem to understand and filter the images they are being shown (Linda Papadopoulos 2010). Whilst the effects vary from person to person, there is a general negative trend that is being seen.
Teen Magazines are a common culprit of sexualisation of women targeted towards a younger audience. The magazines targeted towards girls usually give advice on hairstyles, cosmetics, clothing, diet and exercise to attempt to coerce them to be objects of the male gaze(Rush and La Nauze 2006).
Marketing Media is another main culprit of the exposure of hyper sexualised women’s bodies and behaviours. Advertising most commonly assigns stereotypical gender-roles which include women being used as sexual objects. As a result of this there has been a terrifying trend which shows young children being portrayed as “sexy adult models” and vice versa; women are infantilised and are portrayed as being childlike, innocent and submissive (Rush and La Nauze 2006). Within kids media, there are 2 main ways this is being done.
Creating characters that the kids can relate to but also have a hyper sexualised personality Adding subliminal messages to products that portray inappropriate messages. This can include putting the Playboy logo on a children’s pencil case.
“Research establishes clearly that most children under the age of approximately eight years do not comprehend the persuasive intent of advertising. Such children lack the capability to effectively evaluate commercial claims and appeals, and therefore tend to accept the information conveyed in advertising as truthful, accurate, ad unbiased. Consequently, children in this age range are uniquely vulnerable to commercial persuasion.” (APA Task Force on Advertising and Children (2004) Within the general media, an example of one of the ways women are sexualised is through the use of “Airbrushing”/digital augmentation.
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