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The Oversexualization of Advertising in the Czech Republic and the US
Cultural values and attitudes towards the representation of sex and women's sexuality differ from country to country.
Everywhere we turn, from billboards on the highway to online ads, advertisements have taken over our lives. You might even glimpse a promotion or two while walking with your furry friend. The thriving advertising sector has experienced a spike in digital advertising in recent years. However, there is growing concern that advertising has become increasingly sexualized and inappropriate, causing many to question its impact on society.
This 24Hour Journal article will dive into this topic, examining the differences between the United States, the Czech Republic, and other countries in Central and Eastern Europe.
Brief History of Commercial Advertising in the US and the Czech Republic
Do you find it surprising how pervasive commercial advertising has grown in our daily lives? Thanks to its assistance, businesses can effectively communicate with clients and advertise their goods and services. Interestingly, the notion of the advertisement arose back in ancient civilization and has a colorful story behind it.
Nevertheless, the spark of commercial advertisement as we know it today only appeared in the late 19th century, thanks to the latest technological advancements such as radio. And at the turn of the 20th, advertising platforms scaled from television to the internet, and now to mobile devices, as reported in G2. These innovations transformed the advertising sector by giving companies fresh, creative approaches to marketing their goods and reaching their target markets.
Since the 20th century, the advertising industry has been flourishing around the globe, including the United States, one of the leaders in the global advertising market as of 2023. In fact, the US accounts for one-fifth of the advertising revenue globally, and its progress and development do not stop here.
Advertising has become an essential component of the American economy, with businesses of all sizes and industries utilizing various advertising mediums to promote their products and services. From television and print advertisements to digital ads and social media campaigns, the advertising industry has evolved in response to changing consumer trends and technological advancements.
While the US advertising market was conquering the world, several countries in Central and Eastern Europe, including the Czech Republic, have faced some hurdles due to “the political and ideological constraints of the communist regime,” as underlined in this research paper. After the fall of communism in 1989, the advertising industry experienced rapid growth and diversification. The Central European Business Review noted that advertising in Central and Eastern Europe became more comparative and creative, influenced primarily by Western trends.
Representation of Values and Attitudes in the Commercial Advertising
The complicated and ever-changing topic of how values and attitudes are portrayed in commercial advertising reflects the variety and inclusion of society in the Czech Republic and the United States. Advertising can be an effective tool for fostering societal change but can reinforce unfavorable stereotypes and prejudices. Factors that affect the representation of values and attitudes in commercial advertising in the United States and the Czech Republic include consumer expectations and preferences, creative strategies, and regulations.
Whether we like it or not, advertising comes with growing concerns, including its negative impact on society. Specifically, some critics believe that advertising has become oversexualized in recent years, bringing inappropriate messages and biased attitudes towards women, body image, and women empowerment issues, among other topics. Consequently, most people advocate for more responsible advertising practices that do not augment reality and promote the world as it is without anything harmful or offensive to their target audience.
On top of that, cultural values and attitudes towards the representation of sex and women's sexuality differ from country to country, and the United States and the Czech Republic are vivid examples of it. For instance, in the United States, significant changes have been made regarding sexual norms and behaviors for the past forty years, making the country more tolerant of cultural attitudes towards premarital sex, same-sex relationship, and casual sex.
Central and Eastern Europe, on the other hand, is far behind the United States as there are arising attitudes about gender, age, race, religion, and political views. Some countries have adopted more liberal and progressive views on sexuality, while others have remained conservative and traditional. Many factors, such as culture, religion, state, education, and media, influence sexuality.
The Representation of Sex in the Commercials in the United States
In American advertising, sex is a frequent motif. Advertisers make sexual appeals to attract viewers and convince them to purchase their goods or services. However, the depiction of sex in advertisements is frequently problematic because it reinforces gender stereotypes, objectifies both men and women and commercially exploits sexuality.
Despite these concerns, some advertisers use sexual appeals in their commercials. For example, a 2019 Super Bowl commercial for Devour frozen food showed a man addicted to "frozen food porn" and his wife trying to help him. The commercial used sexual innuendos and metaphors to compare eating frozen food to watching pornography. Several people criticized the advertisement as unsuitable for a family-friendly occasion like the Super Bowl.
In 2017, Calvin Klein launched an underwear campaign featuring celebrities such as Justin Bieber, Kendall Jenner, and Frank Ocean posing in suggestive poses and revealing underwear. The campaign used the hashtag #mycalvins to encourage consumers to share their photos wearing the brand. While the campaign successfully generated buzz and social media engagement, it was criticized for being overly sexualized.
A 2015 Carl's Jr. burger commercial showed model Charlotte McKinney walking naked through a farmers market and biting into a burger. The commercial used the slogan "all natural" to refer to the burger and the model's body. The commercial was widely panned for being gratuitously sexual and objectifying women.
What about the Czech Republic and Eastern Europe?
Interestingly, the Czech Republic has long used sexual images in advertising. In actuality, it has long been a standard procedure. For instance, Komerční Banka's 2011 advertisement was controversial, featuring an androgynous young man about to lose his virginity. The advert was poorly received by many who found it in bad taste. However, using sexual imagery in advertising can be troublesome and contribute to a society that objects to people and perpetuates harmful gender stereotypes.
Marketers often use such tactics to grab consumers' attention and create a memorable impression. Nevertheless, they need to consider the potential impact of their messaging and avoid perpetuating harmful ideas about gender roles and expectations.
The Heinz commercial is a notable example of this issue. Despite being intended to be humorous, the advertisement received criticism for showing a woman using her sexual allure to control a man. Such representations may perpetuate the notion that women are the only things to be enjoyed by men. To generate effective and responsible messaging, marketers need to be aware of the possible effects of their advertising.
We continue to be concerned about the objectification of women and the adverse effects of sexualized advertising in the United States, though. On the other hand, despite facing governmental and ideological limitations, Central and Eastern Europe, including the Czech Republic, have upped their game by diversifying and using more innovative advertising techniques. To prevent any harmful and offensive advertising, it's important to have responsible advertising practices.
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