Sex sells, but this Lebanese initiative is exploiting a new idea
While the use of beautiful and seductive women to sell products has been a marketing tool since the birth of modern advertising, a women’s rights organization is taking aim at the practice of using sex to sell with a new online campaign.
The initiative is aimed at shedding light on the widespread commodification of women in the advertising world. The group said that issues related to women in advertising are largely overlooked by industry professionals because certain practices have become ubiquitous
The initiative, titled, “Not by Commodification Your Product Sells,” launched Thursday by the advocacy organization Fe-Male, with support from IndyAct, is a one-month online campaign created to reveal gender discrimination propagated by media and advertisers to sell more products, a process that the group said promotes gender violence by sexually objectifying women.
“[The issue] is very important, we must speak about it,” said Alia Awada, an activist and member of Fe-Male. She argued that people would still buy products if media campaigns refrained from using women as sexual objects.
The first part of the campaign, which Awada described as a “hit-and-run,” will be carried out online. The organization will post photographs, caricatures and videos over the span of one month on social media sites and online platforms to convey their message.
The image being used by the organization to promote the campaign consists of a woman’s legs wearing red heels, attached to which is a large tag. The tag in the ad reads: “Not by commodification that your product sells.”
The second part of the campaign will be an on-the-ground project involving businesses that use women to sell products as part of their advertising strategy, as well as media outlets that promote images deemed offensive. Its long-term objectives are to effectively bar what it described as “dangerous media messages” being relayed to younger generations.
Following the campaign, Fe-Male aims to hold discussion sessions with businesses, the media and civil society members to create a policy paper to stop the commodification of women in the advertising world.
“What is the difference if they use a woman or not? A woman is not going to make me buy a bottle of water for example, I will buy it anyway if I like it,” Awada explained. “With or without the woman in the ad, it won’t make a difference at all.”