After a decade during which marketing became raunchier and raunchier, the tide has now turned. There are signs that glamorous blond women and muscle-rippling playboys are no longer the answer to every marketing officer’s prayers.
Matthew Lynn reports that the U.K. retailer, French Connection Group Plc will drop its “FCUK logo this summer. Abercrombie and Fitch have decided to cease publication of the catalogue that drew comment for its scantily clad models. Sex doesnt sell the way it used to, apparently.
Lynn believes the change in advertising content is a matter of wear out. “Sexual imagery is now so ubiquitous in marketing campaigns, it has lost the power to shock us.
In June, I commented on the fact that young women are adopting more modest clothing, that the bare midriff was now passé. I wondered whether this represented a deeper cultural trend than the “wear out explanation acknowledges. Perhaps women in their teens and 20s are insisting on new terms of reference, that they are rewriting the rules of femaleness.
There are cultural definitions that have a certain primacy. Gender is foundational in this way. Make a change here, and a change ripples through the social order and the marketplace. If young women are reworking our notions of gender, we must look for a substantial change in their notions of family, community, and politics. Indeed, we may be looking here at one of the “feeder trends that helps drive the “values issue of the recent Presidential campaign.
But it would be wrong to think of this as a mere conservatism. It is something more than simple risk adversion, the search for a higher moral ground, or a return to conventional values. One way to track this trend might be to think of it as 4th wave feminism. And if this is the case, we may look forward to yet another reinvention of contemporary life.
Lynn, Matthew. 2004. Europes shoppers get weary of sex in advertising. Bloomberg News. here
McCracken, Grant. 2004. Anthropology and Economics of the Bare Midriff. June 11, 2004. here
McCracken, Grant. 2004. Fashion and Economics. Aug. 8, 2004. here