Thursday, March 08, 2007

PSAs raise awareness of sex tourism

You may have seen an ad from this campaign. I first came across these PSAs on a sports site such as ESPN. Estimates are that 2 million children are “enslaved” in the sex trade. The PSAs, in my opinion, do an excellent job raising awareness of a very serious problem. The ads (and website) attempt to communicate that “sex tourism”—traveling to a country with the singular purpose of having sex with minors—is a crime that can result in a 30 year sentence for US citizens. Other than running the ads on sports sites, World Vision is running outdoor ads in countries where this is a problem such as Cambodia, Thailand, and Costa Rica.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Dolce & Gabbana’s sexual fantasy ad crosses the line

A recent magazine ad by Dolce & Gabbana is being pulled by the design house after protests that the ad depicts a rape scene. As evident in the image, a man is holding a woman down as four other men wait their turn. The creators of the ad, Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce, claim to be surprised by the protests, and said that their intention was to portray a sexual fantasy: “recall an erotic dream, a sexual game.” Women in Spain, Italy and United States, including Italian Senators—and the president of NOW—say that artistic intent aside, the ad is demeaning and promotes violence against women.

Perhaps this ad is part of a similarly edgy campaign by Dolce & Gabbana that features same-sex themes. Designers are often at the forefront of pushing the envelope to demonstrate that their brands are fashionable and “hot.” As the recent issue of Vanity Fair (or Vogue for that matter) demonstrates, fashion and beauty advertisers must adopt some strategy to stand out among the page-after-endless-page of competition. And sex certainly cuts through the clutter. Last, Dolce & Gabbana’s ad demonstrates that many sexually controversial ads are not produced by large advertising agencies but by freelancers and photographers as these ads are often created “in house.” For example, most of Calvin Klein’s work, especially his controversial ads in the 1980s and 90s was created by Bruce Weber and Sam Shahid, among others.