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Wednesday, May. 30, 2007 at 6:34 pm

Images That Appeal to Women?

By Holly Buchanan
May 30th, 2007

It all started when I was doing research on women and images. I read lots and lots of women’s magazines.

I lost my will to live.

Seriously, I just didn’t get it. The models looked bored at best, in pain at worst. Fashion ads were the biggest offenders. Fashion photographers call these women beautiful models. I call them raccoons with a heroin addiction.

But I persevered. I find the study fascinating. So I went to view the Clio awards in print to see what images targeted at women were winning awards.

I lost my will to live . . . again.

Take a look at this award winner:

My first reaction was, “There’s a headless woman with a steel rod though her body. YIKES!” My next reaction was, “So, men are human enough to at least have balloon heads, but women are objects that don’t even deserve balloons?” (Stay with me here. It sounds bizarre, but I’m just giving you first impressions.) But then I thought, “Well, it’s probably a men’s fashion ad, so it doesn’t really matter.”

Then I saw that it is an ad for “womenswear.” This was an ad targeting women? So, I looked closer and realized the woman didn’t have a steel rod jutting through her body, she had a pin coming out of her body. (You simply cannot make this stuff up)

OK – I’m dying to ask – what is the message of this ad? What is the ad saying to women?

“Wear our clothes and pop men’s heads like balloons” (Yeah, you’re right. Too literal.)

“Women who wear our clothes can control men”

“Get men’s attention”

“You’re in charge”

“Look sharp”

I honestly have no idea what message the ad is trying to convey? What do you think?

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Comments (14)

  1. Wow, that is something else! I think the ad is trying to say “command attention!!” and although you are ugly and a pinhead; if you’re wearing our clothes you can!! :)

  2. Ayat’s got it. But how about:

    “Women who wear our clothes are pinheads, and men who wear iridescent maroon blazers of any sort deserve to get popped like the balloon animals they are.” (?)

    I think your first hyper-literal interpretation is correct, Holly, but I agree… This ad is too dumb to be deemed conceptual, award-worthy or even clever.

  3. “Don’t just turn heads, blow minds.”

    when do i get my check? ;)

  4. This ad doesn’t appeal to me, but as a woman, I don’t have to think too hard about what it is trying to tell me. When I look at it, the ad immediately tells me if I wear their clothes I will be in complete control of every man I meet and be able to put any ego exactly where it belongs.

    I don’t agree with this treatment of men, so it doesn’t make me want to buy their clothes, but I don’t think I am their target demographic (married with young kids). However, show me clothes that will help me manage my 2-year-old son and I’m sold!

  5. The pin pops the balloons; i.e., their clothing makes men’s heads explode. Or something like that. :)

  6. It’s funny when you look at the difference between men and women that shows up even here in the comments. Julie says, what I think, the message is trying to convey: ‘Put any ego exactly where it belongs.’

    But the guys who think they understand the ad say a women makes the man’s head explode. The difference is subtle, but distinct. I would just guess that most women don’t walk into a room thinking every guy’s head will explode, but they know what effect they can have.

  7. Really interesting comments folks – keep ‘em coming.

    You’ve got to check out Kim Krause Berg’s comments on the image on her Cre8pc blog. LOL!

  8. I think the ad is lame. The art is lame, the clothes are lame. The photoshop work is weak. I don’t like it, I don’t care to get it. It’s not creative. It’s boring. I am a woman, an artist and an art director. And I’m over 40, maybe that’s the problem.

  9. Maybe they are trying to say that men are boobs (not the anatomical variety) and women are something completely different.

    There are many interpretations, but that all seem to place women in higher regard than men if you wear these clothes.

    The ad is about controversy. The fact that we are discussing it is the point.

  10. to me this add says “look sharp in our clothing” sharp enough to pop balloons with a pin that is

  11. “Wear our clothes and you will be sharper than the guys who think that they look good in maroon suits, but are really just full of hot air.” No? Thought I’d take a stab at it.

    No clue. This ad is appealing (to me) only in that it is super confusing! Whatever it’s trying to say, I’m sure the cost of the clothes just about matches the cost of the inevitable therapy sessions made necessary by the ad…

  12. I think 8R3ND4N already nailed it with “Don’t just turn heads, blow minds.”

  13. First impression is surrealist De Chirico, which gives it the patina of transcendence, but it is closer to porn. There is a violent, sexual presence to the ‘woman’. The men appear passive and soft – she is a rigid, forceful, penetrating object – not a person at all and appeals to a certain male yearning for invasive female sexuality.

    If this is aimed at women then it is aimed only at women who can embrace mainstream commercial sexuality in the language of male unconscious perversity – a tall order.
    The executives doubtless got a giggle out of it.

  14. yes it says their heads are going to burst

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Holly Buchanan is a marketing to women consultant specializing in marketing to women online. You can read her blog at She is the co-author, along with Michele Miller of The Soccer Mom Myth - Today's Female Consumer - Who She Really Is, Why She Really Buys.

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