When one thinks of a commercial for fragrance, one can already imagine a slow motion, black and white film featuring and man and a women in a heterosexual romance in which one of their scents attracts the other. This is normal for a perfume commercial. The commercial never features information on the actual fragrance and what it actually smells like in order to sell the scent.
Women's Perfume Commercials
All perfume advertisements are sexist and extremely heteronormative. Starting with Gucci's women fragrance, these commercials portray women as extremely delicate and elegant, an image of women created by social constructs. While sexualizing women, commercials like this one demonstrate to the public that women should be fragile and pure, as the woman in the commercial strikes the audience as unblemished and almost immaculate. In the video, the woman is in white symbolizing her purity. She is surrounded by flowers, as well. Flowers are stereotypically meant for girls and represent girls. She displays feminine and very soft features, as a women always should according to societal norms. She is, also, placed delicately in the middle of the flower meadow, perfectly. This reinforces the idea of women being perfect and "girly".
These commercials feeds the public unrealistic body ideals for women. Douglas Kellner's words describe the effect of Gucci's commercials on women: "They show us how to dress, look, and consume; how to react to members of different social groups; how to be popular and successful and how to avoid failure; and how to conform to the dominant system of norms, values, practices, and institutions." ("Cultural Studies, Multiculturalism, and Media Culture") In most of the advertisements, women are displayed half or mostly naked with a body that everyone, including all men, desire. And because men desire that body for a woman, women must achieve it. The fragrance commercial is hardly selling fragrance as much as it's selling expectations for women which cannot be achieved through mere perfume. Gucci fragrance commercials make it seem as though to be beautiful and attract men–since Gucci is expecting all women to be striaght and want men–you must first be an extremely feminine and skinny girl and second be overtly sexual.
Sexual content in fragrance advertising [manifests] in the usual ways: as models showing skin-chests and breasts, open shirts, tight-fitting clothing-and as dalliances involving touching, kissing, embracing, and voyeurism. These outward forms of sexual content are often woven into the explicit and implicit sexual … promises to make the wearer more sexually attractive, more likely to engage in sexual behavior, or simply 'feel' more sexy for one's own enjoyment.(Tom Reichert)
Lesbian women are known to be butch and manly, and no self-respecting woman wants to be likes that. Women are to be sweet, feminine, and dainty. These Gucci commercials not only exploit this presumption but also, "establish and reinforce nurturance, submission, and dependence"(Zillman and Gibson, Evolution of the Horror Genre,25). How do the commercials do this? Perfume commercials establish women's dependence on men by almost always featuring a man in the commercials and presenting a romance between the man and the woman. This is extremely heteronormative because a commercial featuring a sexual relation between two women is almost impossible to find. Commercials like one make it seem as though the purpose of the perfume is to attract a man because women need men. Female submission is seen in almost every fragrance advertisement and commercial.
Desirability, attraction and passion are most of the central themes in fragrance positioning since 1970. What changes throughout the years is the is the content and the way to express desire. Now, I could go back some decades and fill this blog with articles about this particular sexual - social behavior, which is very interesting, but I want to focus more in the present times, because they are really disturbing. Somewhere in the long run, sexism and treating people, specially women, like meat became the newest way to shock and promote a fragrance.Women are usually framed in a position that sends the message of submission or that the only instrument she has is to use her sexuality in order to get what she wants.
These Gucci commercials don't seem to be selling perfume, but the ability to acquire a man. A male is attracted to a skinny, attractive woman due to her fragrance. They establish a heterosexual relation in order to sell the perfume because, according to the company and social constructs, a women alway wants the attention of a man. This is extremely offensive because the perfume companies are assuming women yearn and need men to the extent that they would buy a product to do so. Women are being treated as sexual objects in commercials whose audience are these women! This concept is bizarre, because this is the method that perfume companies are using in order to appeal to the female public; therefore this female submission and degradation to sexual objects is what a woman apparently wants enough to pay money for.
Men's Perfume Commercials
In men's commercials by Gucci, the men are portrayed as extremely macho and manly in contrast to the women's stereotypical girly-ness and effeminatity. Men are typically supposed to be strong, lean, and buff like the man in this commercial . They are supposed to be strong in order to protect their woman, assuming women are only attracted to masculine and wealthy men. As Zillman and Gibson wrote, "How are men socialized? All they have to do to meet societal precepts concerning their emotional reactions to the terror on the screen is not to blink an eye, not to flinch, and certainly not to scream in distress. Mastery of distress is expected of men who are to radiate the capacity to protect"(Evolution of Horror, 25). Men are socialized to be tough and manly while women are the opposite.
Something that both women's and men's commercials have in common is the sexualization of women. Women are seen as objects that a man can toy around with. It can be seen through Gucci's commercials and social constructs, that no one questions a man when he is with more with one woman but a woman is labeled as a "slut" or other slurs when with more than one man. This ideal is extremely sexist and dates back to the times when women was mere housewives that stayed inside and had to obey everything her husband demanded of her.
This commercial portrays women as sex symbols. The norm in these commercials is that the man always gets the woman. No fragrance commercial shows a man with another man. In the public's eyes, something about a man establishing sexual relations with another man lessens the men's masculinity which is undesirable. These fragrance commercials reinforced gender roles by establishing men as extremely masculine, muscular, and tough and the women frail and dainty. The socially constructed, stereotypical homosexual man is portrayed as a very feminine and weak. This is not allowed to happen because socially, only women are allowed to be feminine and only men are allowed to be masculine. This ideal places LGBT members at the bottom of the social hierarchy because they do not receive any representation. The lack of acceptance for homosexuality dates back to when it was first discovered and announced as a mental disease. It was so bad that, "Sex laws derived from Biblical pronouncements were aimed at preventing the acquisition of the wrong kinds of affinal partners: consanguineous kin (incest), the same gender(homosexuality), or the wrong species (beastiality)."(Gayle S Rubun, Thinking Sex: Notes for a Radical Theory of the Politics of Sexuality,140). Homosexuality was deemed at the same level as incest and beastiality.
The lack of representation draws the LGBT and minority community out as "others" and outsiders. Commercials only use what the consumers desire to sell their products; therefore the lack of LGBT members on the TV screen make being homosexual or trans-sexual seem abominable and unwanted. Women, also, are portrayed as sex "props" in order to sell the product to the consumer. It is ridiculous how sexual perfume commercials have become to the point where it is extremely offensive, because Gucci is assuming all women want are men and men only want women– that men deserve women for smelling like a certain scent and that is all it takes in order to get a woman. The mistreatment of women in the commercial industry gives the audience either a terrible desire to be like the skinny, overtly sexualized women in the commercials or a bad conception of these women and of women over all.