The Erotic History of Advertising / Edition 1

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VictoriaÆs Secret and Calvin Klein are brand names practically synonymous with sexually suggestive advertising. Considering their high public profile and huge profits, anyone can see that sex sells. Despite polls indicating that the public would like to see less sex in advertising, Americans don't mean what they say. They continue to respond to the lure of provocative marketing and, most important to business, they buy. Knowing this, more and more advertisers are testing the limits of public taste in the highly competitive battle to capture the consumer's attention.
All of this is well documented in Tom Reichert's profusely illustrated book, The Erotic History of Advertising. As Reichert amply demonstrates, the use of sex in advertising is far from being a recent fad. As long ago as the 1880s, Duke Cigarettes enclosed in their packs—not baseball cards—but similar small cards showing scantily clad "women of the stage," which encouraged purchasers to keep buying to complete the whole set. In the 1920s Woodbury soap became the market leader largely through ads with images of romantic situations and claims that Woodbury soap made a woman's skin irresistible to the touch. In the 1930s White Owl cigars had great success in marketing through ads showing attractive couples locked in a passionate kiss, suggesting that only White Owls left the breath smelling pleasant. Warner Lambert capitalized on the same kind of imagery for decades to connect Listerine mouthwash with romantic success.
With numerous illustrations showing many erotic ads—some campy, some esthetically elegant, some homoerotic—that push the boundaries of sexuality and taste from over a century of product marketing, Reichert not only tracks the history of sex in advertising but also explores the many factors that make the link between sex and our consumer culture so successful. Among other things, he considers the range of salacious imagery, from mildly suggestive to the use of outright nudity; the emotional impact of sexy ads; the influence of sex on brand recognition; what works and what doesn't; the differences between male and female responses; and the possible harms of using sex in advertising, especially in regard to young audiences and the perpetuation of female stereotypes.
This thoughtful, enjoyable, and fascinating look into the world of advertising—from the late 1800s to the most erotic ads of today—will appeal to both media-savvy consumers and aficionados of pop culture.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In the supposedly prudish late-19th century, tobacco products were advertised with posters showing a variety of buxom, practically (or entirely) topless women. They were invariably draped in toga-like robes and adopted pseudo-Grecian poses. In the 1930s, ads for a Midwestern varnish company used completely naked models; as they were used in trade magazines with an almost entirely male readership, it was considered unlikely that any woman would ever see them. Reichert, a University of Alabama advertising professor, unearthed these tidbits and others in the course of researching this entertaining and fairly comprehensive history of the use of sex in American advertising over the past 150 years. At first, this research may seem unnecessary, since the sex and advertising are so inextricably intertwined. Yet Reichert plots a telling time line, from the late-19th-century petticoat-wearing women coyly exposing themselves on beer tavern walls to the double entendres of 1960s magazine ads and the lasciviously photographed nudes plastered throughout today's fashion glossies. Although Reichert doesn't delve fully into the social ramifications of the constant rise of and backlash against overt sexuality in advertising or how the ads are targeted differently at men and women, he provides a fun, accessible survey of a subject everyone's familiar with. Photos. Agent, Edward Knappman. (Mar.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
"Sex sells" is a potent theme in the advertising industry, and Reichert (advertising, Univ. of Alabama) describes how sex and sensual images have been used through history to market a variety of products. Like his earlier Sex in Advertising, coedited with Jacqueline Lambiase, this work shows how marketers and advertisers use erotic content to sell items like soap, cars, beer, and jeans, in both print ads and television commercials. What makes this work different from his previous book, as well as from other works that deal with the effects of sexual advertising on society, such as Steven Heller's Sex Appeal: The Art of Allure in Graphic and Advertising Design, is that he traces the history of such advertising strategies. As Reichert explains, the use of erotic imagery to sell products has been around a lot longer than the consumer may think. Tobacco manufacturers in the 19th century, for example, used illustrations of nude women to sell cigars and cigarettes. Illustrated with graphic and explicit advertising copy, this study is appropriate for academic libraries, especially those with advertising and mass communications collections.-Donna Marie Smith, Palm Beach Cty. Lib. Syst., FL Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781591020851
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books
  • Publication date: 3/15/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 300
  • Sales rank: 1,058,071
  • Product dimensions: 6.06 (w) x 8.99 (h) x 0.74 (d)

Meet the Author

Tom Reichert, Ph.D., an Advertising Professor at the University of Alabama, has dedicated ten years to studying the prevalence of sex in advertising and its effect on persuasion. He has published on this topic in many scholarly journals, is a contributor to the Encyclopedia of Advertising, and is the lead editor and a contributor to Sex in Advertising: Perspectives on the Erotic Appeal.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments 7
Preface 9
Introduction 13
Ch. 1 Sex and Money 19
Pt. 1 Age of Innocence? The Early Years
Ch. 2 Smoke and Leers: 1850-1900 45
Ch. 3 Passion Plays: 1900-1925 67
Ch. 4 Show and Sell: 1925-1950 97
Ch. 5 Intimate Intimations: 1950-1975 133
Pt. 2 Reaching Maturity? Contemporary Campaigns
Ch. 6 Packaged Goods: Intimates and Underwear 169
Ch. 7 Designer Desire: Jeans 203
Ch. 8 Arousing Aspiration: Lifestyle Apparel and High-Fashion 231
Ch. 9 Aromatic Aphrodisiacs: Fragrance 253
Ch. 10 Prurient Potions: Beer, Spirits, Soft Drinks, and Coffee 291
Ch. 11 One Degree of Separation: Condoms, Videos, and VD 323
Ch. 12 PC Envy: Internet Advertising and Beyond 353
Notes 369
Index 393
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