Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sexy Brooke Shields ad appears in family magazine

My assignment was to locate an example of sex in advertising. I found one in a very unlikely place.

In the May 2008 edition of Family Fun magazine there appears an ad in the “got milk” campaign featuring Brooke Shields. (I chose this magazine assuming that the sexual content would be presumably light, if present at all.) Shields appears in a black leotard positioned in a flexible posture with her legs bent beneath her. She has the ubiquitous milk mustache and a very sophisticated gaze on her face, peering into the lens of the camera (and thus into the eyes of the reader).

Although the ad may at first glance appear innocuous it certainly could be argued that there is present a degree of sexuality.

In terms of dress Shields in wearing a form fitting black leotard that exposes her legs. However, the greater degree of sexuality is found in other aspects of the ad. There is a sense of sexual behavior present in the ad. The look that Shields is presenting to the reader could certainly create a parasocial dynamic. It is clearly intended to create a connection between the viewer and the model.

Brooke Shields' Sexual Persona
Perhaps the greatest sexual aspect of the ad revolves around Shields herself. She built her notoriety in the 1980s starring in sexually controversial films such as Blue Lagoon and Endless Love and her playfully provocative role in Calvin Klein commercials. (She also had a smaller role as a teenage prostitute in an earlier film.) Anyone who grew up during the 80s would recognize the sexuality character that is present in Brooke Shields. The target audience for this magazine (parents presumably in the 30s – 40s) certainly grew up in that decade and could not distance themselves from the sexual baggage that Shields brings to the ad.

Another aspect of ad that can be seen as sexually charged is the copy. The ad opens with the phrase “busy body.” Clearly, this phrase could be interpreted in a number of ways. However, the emphasis is apparently a connection between a healthy body and sexuality. Presumably, the target audience is at a point in their lives when they may be struggling with a perceived loss of their “sexiness” due to a perceived or real decline in their physical condition. Brooke Shields it would seem has not experienced this loss and thus there is a connection between her sexuality and her use of milk.

This ad could certainly be used to support the argument that if sexuality is present in a publication such as Family Fun sex is ubiquitous in advertising.

--Posted by Curt Wanner

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