Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Armani beefcake too much for male UGA student

At least one student at the University of Georgia was offended by a risqué Armani underwear insert appearing in the campus newspaper, The Red & Black. The insert, which shows an Adonis—tanned, chiseled and trim—in a pair of bikini briefs, prompted a male student to write a letter to the editor.

“Not only did this ad embarrass me,” he said, “but it made me…very self-conscious of my own appearance in my underwear.” Obviously, the student was aware of the social comparison effects that many people experience when viewing images of scantily clad models, the vast majority of which are women. He even commented that his experience was probably similar females who are exposed to “skinny, big-breasted models in their lingerie ads.”

Is this beefcake ad truly surprising? The ad uses common techniques such as nudity and physical attractiveness to grab the audience’s attention. This type of sex in advertising has been used for decades, and proven very successful for several marketers. In addition, this approach is not exclusive to female models, either. Calvin Klein, for example, made a big impact in the 1980s with underwear-clad male models. 2(x)ist has done the same.

So, what about this Armani ad prompted a letter to the editor? Are men becoming more sensitive to imagery in ads now that they are becoming the objects of the “gaze,” or do sexy ads cross the line when entering educational settings? Only time and research will tell; but until then, as this gentleman says, “University men….do not be ashamed, wear your skivvies with pride, regardless of how your lower belly hangs over your elastic waistband.”

--Posted by Michelle Weidner

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