Volume 95, Issue 82

Friday, March 8, 2002
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-Budget 2002/2003-
Spoke fights 'stank'

Jesus called into question

The 65 per cent question

CFS slams Pierre Trudeau scholarship

ATMs eating students' beer money

Lots of sex - but none of it sells?

News Briefs

Lots of sex - but none of it sells?

By Emmett Macfarlane
Gazette Staff

Too many advertisements still portray women as sex objects, according to a report from a media watchdog.

The report, released this week by MediaWatch, suggests sex doesn't sell and many advertisements promote various social ills, such as anorexia or aesthetic obsession.

According to Shari Graydon, a former president of MediaWatch, commercials using sex to garner attention are ineffective with both men and women.

"Often women in particular would be offended by the use of sex, [especially] if the product has nothing to do with sex," she said.

Graydon added male consumers were often not able to remember the product being sold even if the content of the ad captured their attention.

Womens' Issues Network co-ordinator Nicole Nelson said she thought the report was a fantastic initiative. "I think it's important for people to realize they have a say in how companies [portray women]," she said.

"Advertisers tend to associate nudity and sexuality. It's a myth that women's bodies are intended [solely for sex]," Nelson said.

Still, Nelson doubted Graydon's claim that sex doesn't sell. "I find it hard to believe that it doesn't, because it's used so pervasively," she said.

Daniel Robinson, a media, information and technoculture professor, said it is difficult to categorize commercials based on sexual content. "What would be seen as sex to one person wouldn't be to another," he said.

Robinson also said he wasn't sure if MediaWatch was correct in its belief that sex doesn't sell. "In some products, [sex] does sell – for something like perfume, for example. Would sex sell for a computer? I don't think so," Robinson said.

Graydon defended her stance that sex was not an effective selling tool. "Sexual appeals in advertisements do sometimes work, but it really depends on the audience and product being sold," she said.

"Just because [advertisers] don't get complaints doesn't mean they're not alienating customers," Graydon said. "Advertisers have increasingly recognized the power women wield as consumers."

The report was MediaWatch's fourth annual on the topic of media portrayals of women in advertising and Graydon said it was difficult to notice a trend over those four years. "In terms of a longer trend today, there are probably many, many advertisers that are aware of [negative] portrayals," she said.

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