Friday, August 5, 2011

I'm Too Sexy For My... Vodka?

     Advertisements inundate the average American from the time they wake up in the morning to the time their head hit’s the pillow late at night.  Even a halfhearted attempt to analyze the product and how it’s being sold to the consumer can shed a light onto what our society is all about.  The bottom line: sex sells.  This has been a widely accepted marketing practice for a long time, and the alcohol industry has put it to constant use.  Specifically, middle shelf vodkas use hyper sexualized women and sex to sell the product to a predominantly male audience.
    “Traditionally, wines and liquors didn’t advertise to women: men were thought to make the brand decisions, even if women did the buying.” (Steinem, 226).  Vodka advertisements follow this strategy by selling sex to the consumer.  With the purchase of these vodka products it is implied that the user can increase the chances of having a sexual encounter.  A look at any assortment of advertisements for Skyy, Smirnoff, Absolut, and Three Olives vodka brands reveals images that sell feminine sexuality to male consumers.  Men, who are taught that constant sexual conquest is not only necessary but inherently part of being male, use alcohol as a means to achieving a greater sex life.  As Jhally point out, “advertising talks to us as individuals and addresses us about how we can become happy.” (251).  These ads suggest that men can fulfill a perceived unhappiness by using their product.
    The women used in these vodka advertisements are hyper sexualized.  Svedka features two women on a mountain dressed in winter garb except for their midsections which are completely naked.  They are holding a sign that says “Drink Svedka” to cover themselves.  If compliance is met and Svedka is consumed, these women might no longer don the sign and will expose themselves.  Absolut features a heavily symbolic ad in which a fruit is made to look like female genitalia with the accompanying caption “In an Absolut world, true taste comes naturally.”  The list goes on with women being related to pornography in Skyy’s advertising campaign and Three Olives displaying the “O - Faces” of women.  “Images are presented to be consumed on their own,” (Breazeale, 235).  These advertisements have very little to do with the actual product.  They are selling sex by means of getting drunk.  All vodkas will intoxicate you, but these companies are trying to differentiate themselves from the market by using erotic, feminine sexuality rather than making a statement about the actual quality or taste of the product.

Works Cited

Breazeale, Kenon. “In Spite of Women”. Gender, Race, and Class in Media. 'Ed'. Gail Dines, Jean M. Humez. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2003. 230-243. Print.

Jhally, Sut.  “Image-Based Culture: Advertising and Popular Culture”. Gender, Race, and Class in Media. 'Ed'. Gail Dines, Jean M. Humez. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2003. 249-257. Print.

Steinem, Gloria.  “Sex, Lies, and Advertising”.  Gender, Race, and Class in Media. 'Ed'. Gail Dines, Jean M. Humez. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2003. 223-229. Print.

Absolut.  Digital Image.  PublicRelationsSocietyofAmerica. Web. 4 August 2011.

Brazilian.  Digital Image. Examiner.  Web. 4 August 2011.

Cherry O Face.  Digital Image.  MediaPostPublications. Web. 4 August 2011.

Purple O Face.  Digital Image.  PeterBaileyCompany.  Web 4 August 2011.

Skky Vodka.  Digital Image.  ETTF. Web. 4 August 2011.

Smirnoff Vodka.  Digital Image. Coloribus. Web. 4 August 2011.

Three Olives Vodka.  Digital Image.  ETTF. Web. 4 August 2011.



  1. I think you did a really good job of using the write-up and collage in order to make your point. It's interesting how such a gender-neutral like vodka can be subjected to such gender biased marketing. Your collage does a good job of illustrating all the points you made in your post. The only room for improvement I see would be that your subject matter was a little too broad (using multiple vodka brands). However, despite that, this was a very interesting blog post and I especially liked the collage.

  2. Hi-
    I would love to comment extensively on everyone's blog posts!!! Please read the updated "Welcome" message on SOCS for the detailed reason for why it's taken me so long to comment on, and also grade these assignments! I rather post it there instead of here :o)

    I hope you'll understand that, in the interest of getting your grade submitted to PAWS by tomorrow, the commenting will have to be skipped and all feedback will be on SOCS in the rubric for this assignment under "Assessments."

    I hope you enjoy the rest of your summer!!!
    Take care,

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