Brand Names Using Sex Symbols

Amber Rozcicha

Pop Culture

As if brand names by themselves are not flamboyant enough, they have now been incorporated with symbols of sex to help promote their business better in hopes of making a higher profit. Examples of some major brands that display sex are Abercrombie and Fitch, Gucci, Pepsi, Burger King, and Victoria’s Secret. What I have noticed over the past few years, is that all of these brands become more and more explicit with the symbols of sex they show because our society gets more and more comfortable with seeing and showing more. To me, this can send out multiple messages to a consumer. A few being “ you can look like this…or have this, of you use this product”, or, “ you can only look like this or have this in order to use this product.” This can give a consumer mixed emotions in my opinion. However, people will continue to use these different types of products because everyone else is and they don’t want to be out of the loop and/or they will feel better about themselves ; more sexy if they wear, eat, drink, etc. these products.

This idea relates to a reading from my pop culture class called The Brand Expands. This reading discussed how people want to be associated with top brands because they simply think it’s better. This applies to everything! Food, clothing, music, drinks, etc. There is this whole social norm that using  known brand name items is better than using something with no brand or an unknown brand, because it’s better quality, or it’s cooler. The truth is, top brand items are more glitzy and in your face than more smaller brand name items, (and recently more “sexified”).  The reading explains how even kids as young as 6 or 7 will only be seen in brand name clothing because they think it’s “better” and their parents advocate for them. Top brands make their products more flamboyant and disguise them as better quality than smaller brands. What this shows to me, is that companies are affecting the younger generations more so than any other. Teenagers are all about looking hip and up to date because that’s what expected in the teen world in order to be cool.

In addition to this idea, teenagers are just learning about sex and when they see symbols of sex being displayed from top brands, they’ll want to buy it because they’re basically being told “this is what is in right now and you can only be cool if you buy this”. I know this is true because I was a teenager once and I could feel messages like that being shot at me everytime I went into a store like Abercrombie. Why do adolescents go to stores like these? Because those stores sell clothes that accommodate that generation! You won’t ever see an elderly person trying on clothes from a store like that. This doesn’t just apply to Abercrombie though, as I mentioned before, several stores display sex. Gucci, Victoria’s Secret, and so on. I have even seen sexual ads for perfume!

As you can see, in all of these major brand name ads, sex is shown. Mainly, it is through major exposure of skin, and interactions of two people. What is also noticed, is that all of these people are young, skinny (or buff for men) and beautifully flawless. This is huge proof that the younger generations are being targeted because the sexual images are displayed be people of the younger generation too because they have younger more taught skin and can display a much toner body than that of an elderly person. This messes with the minds of young people because they are still developing and trying to figure out right from wrong, what’s cool, what’s not, and where they fit in. All of these ads show flawless, in shape people and that sends a message to our adolescents that that is what they must look like or act like in order to be accepted, to be sexy, to be desirable etc.

I had a friend in middle school who fell victim to this social norm. She bought a t-shirt from Abercrombie and Fitch that said in big, blue, and bold letters “ Check out my Boo- Tee”. She knew what the tshirt was really saying and liked the fact that she would be getting extra attention from the boys at school. In fact, she wore that very shirt two days in a row because of all the attention she was getting. So what this shows, is that the sex is not just being displayed in ads, but on the actual products themselves! But the message my friend was receiving from a store like Abercrombie is bias. Yes, you are going to receive much more attention that you are used to, but is all that attention going to be right kind of attention? I personally think it was sickening that male teachers were checking out the butt of a 13 year old girl after reading what her shirt said. These actions can in fact send off the wrong message and can ruin people’s interpretations of you. What if people thought my friend was a “slut?” or “easy?”, what if some creepy guy gave her too much attention than she could handle? What if he took it further than just checking her out?

What’s scarier is that this doesn’t just apply to clothing ads but to the very food we eat and the drinks we drink! So now there are certain foods you must eat or drinks you must drink in order to be seen as accepted, or “cool”. Think about it, only top brand name food and drink like Doritos, Burger King, and  Pepsi have attractive looking brands to the eye because of all the bright colors and shininess used to illustrate the brand name on the package. For some reason, we think that means the actual product inside is better. And we think it’s even better when sex is involved because we then think we will get more involved too, by looking better, acting better in a more sexual way and we hope that we will become more sexually desirable by using the sex associated products.





I feel like we are being controlled by all of these ads. They are all trying to tell us that we will be better, or more desirable if we use their sexually explicit products. What I want to know is juts how it makes you more sexier? What’s the next step after consuming the product or wearing it? Does it just magically happen like the sexy people in the ads?

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