A cardinal rule of advertising is that sex sells. This might not seem sensible when one is contemplating, say, Little Debbie snack cakes,1 but it’s hard to ignore the fact that Mr. Clean is rather buff.
While it might seem sensible to extol the virtues of a given product over another — performance, for instance, or quality — often the only thing a consumer good has going for it is style. So there’s a whole genre of advertisement which elevates style over substance, a shadow cast by the product being advertised itself.
With cars and other vehicles this becomes transparent. There hasn’t been a significant change in internal combustion engine technology in more than a century; the only truly innovative vehicles — electric-driven cars — are still not in mass production. In US markets this often means either pushing cars as accessories for a family lifestyle, or as penile surrogates.
Rough transliteration of the text is, “What stop sign, officer? (Sixt has BMW Cabrios)” Sixt is a rental-car agency.
It’s easy to miss the subtler sexism of this ad series beneath the obvious. While superficially there is no reason whatsoever to feature windblown and presumably overperfect women in a rental-car ad — which doesn’t even show the cars in question — except to push the sexualized nature of the cars, it’s less clear that the implication is women are bimbos at best, and unsafe drivers at worst. So while these ads will appeal to libidinous fortysomethings lost in midlife crisis, they’re unlikely to work outside of that extremely narrow demographic.2
Sixt et. al. should have been considerably more up-front, and offered a free year’s supply of Viagra to renters.
1. Unless one is the type of individual that was required by law in many states to remain indoors with the lights out this last Halloween.
2. What this suggests about the creative team working on the ads in the first place I leave as an exercise to the reader.
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