Assessing The Controversial Branding Strategies Cultural Studies Essay

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When most people see advertisements, they don't always see the whole picture; they just see the product and the label. Sometimes our mind cant understand the subliminal message but when it does we realize we live in a pretty messed up world.

When we look at ads, we see the beautiful models and how well the clothes and products compliment them, well, that's not always the case. For example, an ad by Sisley, which is a company that sells clothes and some home décor and other various products. In the photo labeled "Fashion Junkie", it depicts models looking like they're snorting coke and looking blown at the same time, but when you look a little closer, the pile of cocaine is over by a chase credit card; probably how they cut it, you actually see the models snorting a white dress that is symbolic to cocaine. When you first look at the ad, you go wait, are they doing cocaine? And then you see the cocaine. In my opinion, this is an ineffective ad that just promotes drug use rather than its fashion line because the cocaine and the blown models have your attention, not the clothes. And I also think it should not be glamorized because this is an ad that is getting mass advertising and not everyone will see it clearly, they will just see the drug usage. The photographer who did this photo shoot was Taurus, according to I couldn't find who exactly Taurus was but I think this ad was just done for shock value and of course, to advertise their clothing line which proved ineffective due to the models demeanor. Another ad that I found was with Kate Moss advertising a perfume called Opium for Yves Saint Laurent, she may not be doing opium in the ad but the subliminal message behind it does endorse the drug. I mean if you think about it, opium is a drug that is addictive and what Yves Saint Laurent is suggesting, is that the perfume is addicting. So I guess it comes down to drug in fashion ads are more prevalent than they were say, thirty years ago. According to, drugs in the fashion industry has been around for a long time and according to this source, many models such as Kate Moss do drugs such as heroin. Why? Because it is offered to them on the shoots and because they have the money to buy it. says, "It is far from impossible for a successful model to be on drugs, as Naomi's career proves." Also states "I had one model tell me of how they held her up to do a beauty shoot. That's sick. Another, who is an alcoholic, was sent away to rehabilitate and, on her first day back on the job, at eight in the morning, was offered vodka by the photographer." And also "To find the reason behind heavy drug- use in the modeling industry, you have to consider the lifestyle of a typical teenage model."You want a girl to go stand on the paper and do what you tell her to do. You need to get the picture so, although these children are dressed as adults, mentally they are kept as infants and that contributes to drug use," says fashion writer Michael Gross." This is all from one source,

An ad with a woman whom is nude, posing, looking perfect, and that woman is Charlize Theron. In the ad, she is advertising a perfume called J'ador by Dior but the perfume is nowhere to be found in the advertisement, instead it is just her. This advertisement is all sexual because of the lack of presence of the perfume and her just sitting there naked posing. The photographer behind the J'ador shoot was Nick Knight according to, and he was fundamentally trying to capture the beauty of Charlize. Another Sexual ad is an ad with two models, a male and a female positioned in different directions advertising Calvin Klein Collection. This ad is sexual to me because of how the male model is positioned while the female model is touching his chest. The photographer behind this ad was Bruce Webber, a well known photographer to do sexually explicit photos. These sexual ads sell not because of the perfume or clothes, but because of how they are presented. One might go, "She looks hot in that, if I buy that I can be that attractive." Another suggests "if I buy this perfume, guys will hit on me." This is all a more psychological perception that is all theoretical and lustful rather than factual and justified. On more specifically Janet Mock's blog states, "What typically happens is that the depictions will attract attention to the sexual aspect of the ad but people often don't make a connection to the brand itself. The connection is not made to the brand because the focus is so strong on the sex," said the Iowa State University professor of marketing and consumer behavior. Two University of North Carolina researchers found in 2004 that there is a "disgust" factor, a degree of anti-consumerism from people turned off by the sexual overload. "That negative effect is strong. It can be very powerful and actually take away from a person's intention to buy a certain product."

On ad in particular, advertised Alcohol and this ad was by Sisley (again) which depicted two models in lingerie and with a wine glass and other products looking wasted. These ads are a little extreme and frankly, a little over the top. Although you are focused on the products, it doesn't change the fact that your eyes are being drawn to the models demeanor but also the products as well. According to, "Abercrombie & Fitch published a two-page "creative drinking" article from a clothing catalog for college students following an uproar complaining that it encouraged binge drinking." This type of publicity that alcohol is getting seems to be getting it from huge retailers that appeal to youth and young adults. With all the ads with alcohol, it is bound to increase sales with many brands of alcohol and liqueurs.

Many of today's fashion ads are filled with disgust and shock value but once ads go as far as Dolce & Gabbana's ads, which feature many homoerotic ads. Dolce & Gabbana is known for their risqué clothes and adverts and an ad I found was with two men dressed in white; one messing with his belt while a naked man is looking in distress with two other men dressed in black on looking his body. Another ad I found was by Dolce & Gabbana featuring men dressed in suits looking as if to do a photo shoot or filming. The photographer that did these ads was Richard Knight. According to Elle magazine, he did these shoots to draw attention to the brand rather than what was being portrayed.

When I was looking for an ad on anorexia nervosa, I found one featuring a woman with almost no rib cage and looking very skinny. This ad was done by Ralph Lauren according to, to make the clothes have more of an appeal to them by being on a well figured body. To me, a skeletal body is in no way figured. It also tells women that their body isn't good enough and if you don't look like this you will be a pariah to society.

Last but not least, I found an ad that showed a woman being held down to the ground forcefully while other men looked interested in raping her. This "Gang Rape" ad was done by Dolce & Gabbana. The photographer was John Hughes, according to Style magazine. In his interview he stated he wanted to show the hedonistic side of advertising. This isn't how ads should be advertised. This is objectifying women which if you go on Youtube and search sexist ads, a lot of videos will come one such as cleaning and cooking ones. You never see a man clean.

We live in a very materialistic world where not only does advertisement become distorted from day to day, but so does our true perception of reality. Next time you see an ad, think about how they are presenting to you and look not only at the products but the reasoning behind the branding strategy and maybe then you will see the whole picture and not just the label.