It has become clear how advertising today, focuses on narratives, experiences and emotions. Its as though the ethic of hard work has been replaced by hedonism as the fun ethic of modern day society, with advertisers exploiting this trend by focusing on selling through emotive words and images instead of product substance.
Hedonism primarily concerns itself with choices, freedom, pleasure and pain. Then again, it is more than just pleasure and pain because such choices are judged and ultimately socially constructed. It is regarded as the least desirable feature of western society. This is because such formations as ‘doing one’s own thing’ or ‘dumbing down’ associate with the idea of an egotistic, individualistic culture that is degraded by materialism and self-obsession.
Therefore, through such materialistic consumption, hedonism attempts to identify the good life with the pleasurable life. It is not the case of choosing to be happy, but that you choose ‘things’ that make you happy. People are increasingly attracted to the things that make them feel good.
Such enriching enjoyments are ultimately tied to activites and relationships valued for their own sake and not purely for the pleasures they fabricate. They produce pleasures because we first must desire them, and find them desirable on a broader basis than merely their pleasure-producing aspect. However, advertising itself does not create wants; there must be an underlying desire to want to seek the product or experience in the first place….
The pleasures we get from seeking and consuming commodities and experiences maybe short-lived. Pleasure-seeking aims for a quality of experience arising from certain patterns of sensation. Such pleasures of consumption could reside in the imagination. In other words, consumers imaginativly anticpate the pleasure that a new product or experience might bring. Yet in reality it never lives up to what they anticipate…
While no great pleasure can be derived from just imagined sensations, it is easy to imagine situations. For example the idea of ‘sex’ can potentially stimulate an emotional experience. Consequently then, when consumers feel something to be true, even if they know it to be false, that feeling may be all that is needed to determine a brand perference.
Sexual imagery in particular, had been widely used to sell commodities. Sex is used to attract consumer’s attention to products and to render specific brands more attractive. However, it is not the idea of sex in advertising that is the issue; it is the context in which it is portrayed and sold to an audience.
Unilever’s Lynx range in particular is a well-known, recognisable and popular brand that is associated ‘with maleness and sexual potency’ (Lynx 2009). In other words if you buy this you WILL get laid.
Lynx has aired a number of television adverts for their deodorants, anti-perspirants and shower gels. The brand continues to exploit an image of masculinity that is far from the hegemonic ideal. The men used in the adverts, although not unattractive are presented as your ‘average Joe’ and thus attainable figures of ‘youthful post-pubescent masculinity.’
The idea of course is that if a Lynx product can turn the ‘normal’ male into a magnet for the opposite sex in the adverts, then it can do the same for the young man in the audience. Thus, it is essential for the advert to get consumers to transfer positive associations of the imagined desire onto the commodity, so that Lynx products equal sexual magnetism in the mind of the viewer.
Yet, as previously mentioned without a motive or desire, there is no action. Even though we speak of a motive for doing something, in reality there may be several motives at work. Therefore, when a young man sprays Lynx, he is not simply using a deodorant to smell pleasant, but is rather spraying better looks, success, love, respect and social approval or in this case, sexual attraction.
However, consumers can be selective in what they perceive to be true and false within advertising. To believe that by spraying Lynx, the opposite sex will be physically incapable of resisting the urge to mount the wearer is extremely doubtful….
Nevertheless, through their messages, Lynx have evolved to understand more hedonistic and youth- centered worries.
After all,young men are most anxious about sexual performance, most self-conscious about finding a partner and perhaps most insecure about their developing physiques. Lynx (2009) advocates how ‘British men worry about their self image, personal freshness, bad breath and body odour.’ Thus, this message of sexual success is not simply a passing reference, but rather, the driving force of the marketing campaign behind the Lynx brand.
The adverts tend to play out the man as the dominant sex and gender stereotypes for comedic effect, as if to reassure rather than alienate a young male viewer about his own social role, sexual performance and physicality. However, by positioning a male and the product in this way, Lynx are reiterating an ideological idea that female attention and the promise of sexual satisfaction is more important than career progression or in improving one’s mind or body.
Marketing communications consequently stand accused of generating strong social pressure to consume in this way. Advertising in particular, is said to able to exploit this freedom to attach images of romance, exotica, fulfilment, or the good life to mundane consumer goods such as soap. These images fix the ways material objects are able to act as carriers of meaning in social interactions. Therefore, the claim made that the aggregate outcome of mass consumer messaging on larger scale has pressed consumers in a hedonistic direction cannot be ignored.