The ad for “fetish,” the scent, appeals to women buyers by reinforcing the gender role of woman as temptress and prey. The ad used many visual elements in the composition of the ad to further the desirability of the perfume by appealing to gender roles preferred and perpetuated by society. To better examine the content and strategies of this image, I broke the image down into four triangles of visual content. These triangles are the visual lines that connect different focal points and create balance, making the photo appealing to the eye.
The ad can be broken down into four basic triangles. The first triangle consists of the lines drawn between three crucial elements of the ad: the bottle, the company logo, and the model’s lips. This element not only contains the phallic imagery of the bottle, but also associates the phallic bottle with the model’s lips and the company logo. The addition of this image equates the idea of sex with the logo, thus furthering the idea that the company can provide an image of sexual desire through the use of the perfume. The company is not only associating the perfume which sex, but with oral sex in particular visa vie the inclusion of the model’s open mouth in association with the phallic perfume. The line of focus between the phallic bottle and the model’s open mouth add to the image of woman as temptress. The model’s eyes seem sickly and her hair thin, which make the model look sickly. By making the model appear sickly, the creators of the image made the model appear weak and therefore an easy source of prey.
The top of the second triangle begins at the model’s lips and extends down to her shoulders. The purpose of this triangle is to balance and accentuate the content of the third triangle. The third triangle contains the most obvious advertising ploys. The third triangle reaches from one of the model’s shoulders to the other and the point meets where the bottle hangs on her top. The third triangle consists of the text, the space in-between the model’s top, and the perfume bottle. The text names the perfume, and the subtext reads, “fetish #16: Apply generously to your neck so he can smell the scent as you shake your head ‘no.’” This sentence implies that by wearing the perfume, the buyer will be approached for sex and then will reject the person who desires them. This sentence furthers the image of woman as temptress, and more specifically, woman as a tease. The model’s top creates a shape (where her skin is in between the straps of her top) that is vaginal. The placement of the phallic perfume bottle, which intrudes into the vaginal shape created by the model’s top, is no accident. This non-accidental placement of the phallus enhances the image’s obvious allusion to the woman as a sex object to be preyed upon. The fourth triangle begins at the perfume bottle on her bra and extends downwards to the corners of the photo. The fourth triangle serves the same purpose as the second triangle: to frame and accentuate the third triangle.
The advertisement is very clearly aimed at young women. The model is young and is therefore can be related to by young women. Her thin hair and undeveloped breasts make her seem child-like. By associating an undeveloped body with sexiness, women of a younger age who are also undeveloped may think that if they purchase the perfume, they too will be considered sexy. The number of the fetish, “16” would certainly draw the attention of a sixteen year old, who would see the number, associate the number with herself, and then want to be associated with the model in the picture and the perfume.
In conclusion, the image plays to the gender roles of woman as temptress and woman as prey quite successfully through the use and placement of phallic and vaginal imagery, lines that create associations between images, text, and the childlike appearance of the model.