Alycia Griffin Professor Michael Bedsole English 101 16 September 2012 Fashion Junkie Every company wants to have fresh ideas for their ad campaigns, to draw in their audience. Sisley attempted to draw the consumer in using an advertisement that depicted two women participating in illicit behaviors. The advertisement may have been considered humorous, had it not been so vulgar. Sisley’s attempt at reeling the consumer in resulted in an effect that definitely caught the eyes of their targeted audience, but not in a way that could be considered positive.
Is fashion, an addictive and destructive vice, destroying its intended and targeted audience; the consumer? In 2007, the fashion line, Sisley, whose parent company is United Colors of Benetton, released a print ad with the words “Fashion Junkie” in the center of the page. At first thought, without having seen the ad, a person would not have thought anything negative about it because the term “fashion junkie” is widely used by those who love fashion. In the ad, though, it depicts two young, beautiful women partaking in behaviors that would be considered classless.
It is set in a dark room that gives an eerie feeling; it gives the viewer a sense that there is nothing happy or light about Sisley’s line. One of the women is sitting down while the other seems to be leaning against the table. On the table there is a credit card with white powder on it. Next to the credit card there is also a white strappy dress lain on the table that the women seem to be “snorting” as though it were cocaine. The women’s position against the table seemed to show a need or dependency for the drugs shown. The women are wearing what looks like party dresses.
Both of them are wearing makeup that is dark and have their hair loose and down. One of the models is looking towards the viewer, in a way, with a lifeless expression in her eyes. Both their facial expressions give the idea that they are strung out on illegal drugs, obviously. In the center of the page it reads “Sisley” in all capital letters with the words “Fashioin Junkie” underneath. The word “fashion” was misspelled; it is kind of a play on words to make fashion sound like heroin. Sisley attempted to sell their line of clothing by inferring that their clothes are addictive and leave you craving more from them.
Unfortunately, they failed in that respect. The main focus of the advertisement should have been the models and the garments that they were wearing, but immediately, the first thing noticed is the zombie-like expression of one of the models. On the other model, one of her nipples is very clearly noticeable. Sisley’s sister company, United Colors of Benetton, led the way in the fashion world during the eighties, defining fashion at that period. Benetton is known for marketing their brand while always addressing national and international issues.
As sister company to Sisley, it is very unlikely that Benetton would want to be associated with Sisley when they are releasing such racy advertisements that can be taken negatively in more ways than one. The advertisement also showcases a credit card from Chase Bank that looks like it was used to cut the lines of cocaine. Sisley makes it seem as though Chase Bank is condoning this behavior and serves as support to the addictive lifestyle that fashion and drugs bring. Looking at the advertisement, the audience most likely assumes that the two women pictured are models.
There are already many negative conceptions about models and this advertisement verifies those conceptions in a way. Many people in the general public look at models as super slim women with weight management problems as well as drug problems. People like Kate Moss further stimulate these stereotypes and misconceptions. It seems as though Sisley was attempting to use the fact that models do drugs in an effort to manage their weight to manipulate their audience’s mind by having the two models “snorting” the dress through white straws.
In this way there was a direct correlation between the fashion industry and the drug culture. For some people fashion actually is an addiction. Some people lose all their money in an effort to stay up to date with the latest trends. This is where the cocaine laced Chase Bank credit card comes in. Most people are aware of the phrase “Get it on credit. ” Sisley stressed the point that even if you don’t have money in your own possession, their product is so spectacular that it is worth maxing out your credit cards. The fact that cocaine is known as the “rich kid drug” further supports Sisley’s effort at trying to make it seem ike their clothes are addictive. Furthermore, the fact that cocaine is known as the “rich kid drug” might even give the consumer an idea that the product is expensive. They even went so far as to use the credit card to cut the lines of cocaine, which also correlates the drug culture and fashion industry. This is a fashion advertisement, but Sisley fell short in their effort to sell their actual clothing line. There’s a dark nature of the advertisement which overpowers the clothing. At first glance, you notice nothing of what they have on.
You might notice what the girl on the left is wearing simply because she has a nipple slipping out of her dress and doesn’t seem to care whether it noticeable or not. If you actually took a decent look at what the two ladies were wearing, you could see that their outfits were actually very tasteful and well put together. Most garments considered high fashion that are seen on runways are fashionable, but in no way functional. The outfits that these two women were wearing were clothes that consumers might actually consider buying and would include in their daily wardrobe.
This is masked by all the extremes occurring right in front of the viewers face, taking the attention away from what the advertisement was originally intending to sell. Although Sisley fails to sell their clothing line, what they succeed in doing is degrading women as a whole. The ad does not say much about their fashion and it says even less of how a respectful, classy woman should behave herself. There are few people that would be fine with their child seeing this ad in Seventeen or Teen Vogue.
It is negative imagery that does not send out a positive message to children and teenagers of the younger generation growing up in today’s society. The ad actually inadvertently condones the use of cocaine, or rather, any illegal substance. It throws beautiful people in the face of the consumer because as humans, people are thinkers, but they are also followers. Sisley exploited that fact knowing that if they put two beautiful women in their advertisement campaign, participating in less than lady-like activities, it would entice the young people to support their product. After the 1980’s, heroin arose as the drug of choice.
Waif-like models epitomized this new aura of “heroin chic;” fashion moguls conveyed the association of glamour with heroin (Durant and Thakker). The western view of beauty drives those prominent in the fashion industry to look to drugs to help control weight as well as maintain a certain figure. Drugs directly correlate to fashion in the same way that Wiz Khalifa influences his Taylor Gang followers. The consumer sees the use of drugs like heroin, cocaine, marijuana, and the like by wealthy influential figures and subconsciously realizes that maybe it is acceptable to partake in the same activities that they are witnessing.
President Clinton stated in 1997, “’American fashion has been an enormous source of creativity and beauty and art and, frankly, economic prosperity for the United States and we should all value and respect that. But the glorification of heroin is not creative, it’s destructive. It’s not beautiful; it’s ugly. And this is not about art; it’s about life and death. And glorifying death is not good for any society. (Wren)” On February 4th of 1997, David Sorrenti, a fashion photographer, overdosed because of his use of heroin.
Sorrenti photographed his models looking hard and drugged; even magazine editors had to admit that the “strung-out” look had a certain level of seductiveness to it, although damaging (Wren). The advertisement was specifically directed towards a younger audience, most likely teenagers and young adults who are still very impressionable because they are most likely to buy the products marketed by Sisley. There aren’t many middle-aged and older generations that would find this very tasteful to say the least.
The majority of the older population has already experienced their rebellious or dangerous stage of life and knows the pros and cons of doing hard drugs. Needless to say they would not find this article very enticing to their self. Rhetorical Approaches says that “While the speaker should try to develop an idea of her audience in advance, she should also react to her audience as she speaks. ” Sisley had a clear idea of who their audience was, but the clothing company fell short when creating this advertisement because they did not thoroughly think about how their audience would react to this advertisement.
Unfortunately for Sisley, it was received with plenty of negative criticism. Sisley did invite their audience in, though, if only to receive negative feedback. This advertisement was not only selling its own line of fashion, but it was also selling the world of fashion. This was Sisley’s strong point. It showed the importance of fashion internationally, as well as the effect that fashion has on a culture and any single person’s social identity. It sold that fashion can influence a person to do things that otherwise would be considered beyond ridiculous.
It shows that fashion can make people live outside of their means, by buying on margin. Sisley definitely succeeded in showing how fashion can manipulate a person’s or society’s mindset. Ultimately, Sisley did not sell their product very well. The focal point of the advertisement should have been the fashion and clothes from their line, but drugs were the focal point of the advertisement. Even if this advertisement were not removed, it probably still would not have sold the product very well. There is no product to see. In the end, there could have been a more creative and tasteful way to put this advertising campaign together.
Works Cited Adams Wooten, Courtney, Sally Smits, and Lavina Ensor. Rhetorical Approaches to CollegeWriting. Plymouth: Hayden-McNeil, Print. Durant, Russil, and Jo Thakker. Substance Use and Abuse: Culture and Historical Perspectives. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2003. Print. Messiah, Lauren. “Want some drugs with that fashion?. ” StyleList. The Huffington Post, 18 Jul 2007. Web. Web. 16 Sep. 2012. Wren, Christopher. “Clinton Calls Fashion Ads’ ‘Heroin Chic’ Deplorable. ” New York Times 22May 1997. Web. 18 Sep. 2012.