Sunday, June 24, 2007

Using Sex to Sell Coffee?

This morning I was watching "CBS Sunday Morning" and they had a segment about selling coffee.

It caught my attention because part of the regentrification of my neighborhood here includes three additional Starbucks stores. Within blocks of each other.

Instead of choosing some unusual independent shops, like a book store or a new independent Thai restaurant (ahem), the city is opting for more cookie-cutter franchises.

I'm not a fan of Starbucks particularly. The coffee offered there isn't all that impressive and it's too expensive. The same basic quality is available at Target for one fourth of the price. While it may be an obsession for some, I can't imagine it in this very working class neighborhood.

That aside, the story I caught this morning shows scantily clad women selling coffee at a drive-through. It featured such customer-catchers as "wet t-shirt Wednesday" or "bikini Friday."

Gee, does that sound exploitative to anyone else but me?

I'm tired of women's bodies being used to sell products. I'm tired of our sexuality being used to pull money from the wallets of horny, lonely men. I'm tired of us being involuntary sex objects. I never thought of myself as any kind of radical feminist but this is really offensive!

Can anyone think of a single general product not intended for men that uses male bodies similarly? I wonder how long that would work.




heartinsanfrancisco said...

This is an old, old story. I am also sick of the message it sends to young, impressionable girls as well as to older women, that unless we are perfect "10's," we have no business living and might as well be invisible.

I fail to understand why everything needs to be about sexuality.

And no, I can't think of any general products that flaunt male bodies to increase sales. In fact, I wish to God the makers of all those penile enlargement products would stop sending e-mails to ME.

Pam said...

I love the Sunday morning show, but was put off by the same segment.

They flaunt guy's bodies, too, but not nearly as much as us gals. And they will keep doing it as long as it works and as long as women are willing to hang it out there.

thailandchani said...

Susan, you're right. It is the same old story. I can't help but hope every radical feminist within 100 miles of that coffee shop will show up and give them a bad time.

Ordinarily, I'm not like that... but this particular segment really made my blood pressure go up.

Geez, I thought we made some progress on this stuff in the 70s!



thailandchani said...

Pam, unfortunately, that leads to even more recognition of certain class issues that remain. Something tells me those women in that segment were not financially secure. They had to do what they had to do to have a job.

It's just plain disgusting!



Cecilieaux said...

I hate Starbucks, particularly its Yuppiespeak, e.g. the pseudo-Italian "latte," which means milk, not coffee.

And don't get me started on "panini" which is the PLURAL of panino; it's utterly stupid to order "one panini," which means "one sandwiches."

OK, language-Nazi mode: off.

On your previous post, I just wanted to say that I have yet to understand what Technorati is for. To follow blogs, I use the Google reader and have used the excellent Newsfox add-on to Firefox.

As to women, heartin, a perfect 8 will do ... (ok, gotta go hide in my bomb shelter).


thailandchani said...

Cecileaux, I just tend to balk at anything that's trendy whether it's Starbucks or the latest "cool" pizza. It's all just marketing. Yawn yawn yawn.

I set up Google reader, too, and it is serving the function I believed Technorati served. I'm not so concerned about technorati anymore.

As to men, heartin, I would love to find one who has the capability of thinking with the head on his shoulders instead of the one at the end of his .... in the presence of a woman for more than five minutes.

And I ain't runnin' to no bomb shelter! :)



Z said...

Did you have the 'Diet Coke* break' ads?

could have been Pepsi, I'm not very brand aware!

thailandchani said...

Z, yes... we had an ad like that. Diet Pepsi, I think it was. Are you referring to the Paris Hilton ad?


Julie Pippert said...

Oh is THAT why I'm not getting notices that you've updated! You rejecti the Technorati!

As for this? BLECH!

Did you see Lotta's post today about the new yogurt ads using alleged (and I heavily emphasize the word alleged) "larger" women? (Larger meaning you know a size 8-10 instead of 0-2 BWAH!) OY!

Yes, past sick of it.

Yes, past time to find a new model (no pun intended) of advertising and marketing.

Geez, we do have brains out here and can be "conditioned" to buy on the basis of something beyond exploitation of women (I refuse to call it sex sells any longer because to me? that's not sex).

Okay folding up soapbox! LOL

Julie Pippert said...

P.S. Starbucks is so overpriced it's ridiculous. I STG they go up on prices worse than gas stations!

Now and again I'll treat myself there but I far prefer the locally owned one off coffee shop around the corner!

But I seem to be the only person around who is concerned about it staying in business versus a Starbucks coming. What's the prob, my neighbors ask.

Same goes for the locally owned market (note lack of Super in front). I shop there instead of larger chain supermarket. Neighbors are also baffled by my hope that the ongoing gentrification around here does not affect that market.

What's the prob, I'd be happy with a SuperTarget there, they say.


I prefer mom and pop, okay!

flutter said...

am I weird that I don't drink coffee? Which I know totally isn't the point...

slouching mom said...

that's not only gross, but nonsensical. coffee and i missing something?

meno said...

When had my daughter, i began to notice all this crap even more. Black Velvet billboards, car ads, beer ads, soap ads........

I really hate it, but all i can do is to help her see how silly it all is and that those women don't really look like that either.

Sp far so good, but i do get tired and disgusted by it.

Christine said...

Yuck! I just saw an ad in my Vegetarian Times that has a woman laid out all sexy and hot on a kitchen counter eating some organic veggie tv dinner. Come on!

Snoskred said...

It wasn't until I watched America's Next Top Model that I realised just how difficult those models have it. It's a heck of a lot of hard work - not to mention the keeping yourself stick thin part, which I don't really agree with.

As far as sex is concerned though, I do worry that we ladies swing the opposite way to men. Why is it that sexy men aren't being used to pull money from the wallets of horny, lonely women? Is it because we women aren't interested in sex? Is it because we don't think it's ok to look at a guy and think whoa, he's hot, I'd love to shag him? Is it because we think it is wrong to even BE horny? Or are we so busy with everything else on our plates we don't have the time nor the energy to be worried about pleasing *ourselves* let alone a studly hunk?

Is the reason we don't like to see womens bodies being used to sell products because we don't really like sex - or we don't feel it is ok to like sex because everyone in our lives has told us it's not ok to like sex - or because we don't like to see women making money using their bodies..

These are the questions I think when confronted with things like this.

I love coffee. I love hot men in sexy underwear. Combine the two, and wild horses won't stop me, let's go to Starbucks, I'm buying! And I can appreciate a hot woman in sexy underwear as well. I see the beauty in these things. I'm not stick thin and I don't feel I have beauty (the other half would disagree with that statement) but that doesn't mean I have to resent other people's stick thin ness or beauty..

It makes me think of last weekend when we were in the city - you can't even look someone in the face there, you know? You can't look at someone for more than a brief second for fear of.. fear of what I don't know.. maybe getting punched in the face, or accused of something. Dad's can't look at or touch their own kids without worrying that someone's going to think there's something sexual about it. I really think the way we think about sex etc is so completely messed up these days.

I was flicking around on cable a few days ago and I found that movie from years ago - Blue Lagoon. That was made in 1980 and there was a fair amount of outcry then - if someone tried to make it today with all that nudity and stuff.. there would be such a major big deal about it. Somewhere between then and now, things have changed (for the worse?) in this world.

Do they even have nudist camps these days? Can people take their kids there without CPS taking their kids away? I remember some woman who got her kids taken away over photos of them in a bathtub. I think she might have been jailed, even. My memory is foggy. The kids were naked, as kids usually are at bathtime. But apparently if your kids are naked and you take a photo you're a child pr0nographer or something. There's pictures of me naked in the bathtub as a child in my parents family album and nobody is looking to lock them up for it.

Probably I have wandered off track here..

patches said...

Forget rock hard abs and tight buns...Show me man picking his dirty socks up off the floor, then I'll buy whatever you're selling.

Mike M said...

It wouldn't work.

It's sad that commercial industry is still using sex to push their product lines

ellie bee said...

Well, I confess, I am a starbucks junkie--its the only decent cup of joe in this little town, with the exception of the "christian" coffee shop that literally threw out one of my daughters friends because he was wearing a pentacle--screamed at him for being a satanic freak---but I digress...
I think the reason that men's bodies aren't expoited to the degree that females are is because of the way our minds work--we just don't get the sexual turn on so much from the visual image as from the total picture. Face it, most men get a hard on from looking at a picture of Jessica Alba--do you know of any women whose engines get revved that easily?
We are clearly more intelligent, and therefore a harder sell :)

jen said...

you know, i read this earlier and wandered off to ponder and have come back to say i can't think of a single one.

great post.

thailandchani said...

Julie, I admit that part of this is just a personal thing. I am just bloody sick and tired of being bombarded with sexual content. Just for once, I'd like to see advertisers take the high road. As you said, we do have brains. We're capable of assimilating other messages ~ and would still buy the products.


Julie, I prefer mom and pop, too. Whenever possible.


Flutter, no, you're not weird. I prefer tea personally.. but every now and then, I drink decaf coffee. (Can't drink the full octane for health reasons.)


SM, you know what it reminds me of? One time when I lived in Northern Colorado, some idiot came up with the brilliant idea of appealing to truck drivers with a topless donut shop.

It never ends. It really doesn't.

There's always some advertiser who thinks all of us are stuck in limbic mode.

If I was a man, I would be equally insulted.


Meno, I can only imagine having a kid right now. I'd probably already be in Thailand. There's just no way in the world I'd want to have to constantly defend against it and make sure my child really understood what's going on.


Christine, that's gross! Just gross!

And I was going to try out that magazine, too! (Vegetarianism might be a good way for me to lose weight, I was thinking... )


Snos, in some ways, I have a rather libertarian attitude about this. Heck, I even think prostitution should be legal. On the other hand, so much of the sex industry is influenced by class issues that I find it hard to be totally laisse faire about it.

If all were equal, I wouldn't object nearly so much. The fact is that too many women are forced into these service positions because they have no other options.


Patches, I am laughing my butt off here! Yeah!


Mike, yes.. it is. It's beyond sad. It's absolutely maddening.


Ellie, honestly... I know it wouldn't work on me. I am just not sexually attracted based on looks. Give me a powerful, active and creative brain.. and I'm all over it. :)




thailandchani said...

Jen, the closest I can come is the movie or the music industries. Even those are using personalities though.. not just bodies.

My ex told me once that he liked to use those pictures of women and make up stories about them.


Talk about objectifying!

(Although to hear him, he would tell you he was a woman-loving, goddess-worshiping Wiccan!)



Snoskred said...

It's humor that I find attractive. :) It doesn't really have anything to do with looks at all. I learnt that lesson very early on..

I don't normally blog about this kind of thing at all but a couple of weeks ago something happened. I might make an exception. :)

painted maypole said...

When I started my blog, bubandpie was so kind as to try to leave a comment trying to explain to me how to do a link. It took a little trial and error, but I figured it out. After seeing your post at slouching mom, and I am passing on this lesson to you:

Adding links:

a) put (b) between these: <>
b) in between put this:

a href="url"

c) then put the words that you want to light up all linky-like
d) put (e) between these: <>
e) in between put this: /a

(that is direct quote from her comment to me... what I learned is that the "url" is, of course, the web address... don't put it in quotes)

good luck!

Carla said...

I have never been a particular fan of Starbucks. Aside from not have very good coffee compared to a lot of other places, I'm completely put off by their bullying tactics to put small mom and pop shops out of business. I also agree with you about the way women's bodies are exploited to sell products. All one has to do is pick up a magazine.

Anvilcloud said...

While it's not your main point, I look out of this Vancouver apartment's windows and see three Starbucks with two blocks. You can fool a lot of the people a lot of the time.

mitzh said...

I love coffee!

I completely agree with you that they should stop using women to sell their products and think of other ways to attract consumer...

Anonymous said...

CBS is always doing "news" stories where they are able to feature scantily clad women. It seems like every week we get an expose on porn or prostitution, with lots of titillating pictures to look at.

I avoid chains whenever I have a choice. The media gets all glassy-eyed over the fate of the family farm, but overlook all the other family-owned businesses that are hurting.

Pam said...

Hi...I've tagged you, check out my blog. Have fun if you decide to play.

Bob said...

The Diet Coke ads featured buff men and women drooling over them. But you are right - 99% of adds use women to sell stuff to men.

I've done my best to counter this when raising our daughter, I hope she doesn't feel the overwhelming pressure our culture puts on young women.

Gwen said...

What's interesting to me is that we seem to have become so used to female nekkidness (as my former Texas neighbors would say) while at the same time so Puritan (shorthand for now, please forgive if it offends) about sexuality itself. "Everyone" is naked, but really, don't you know, with disease and morality and all that, NO ONE should actually be having sex. Except for heterosexual married couples with children, who, ahem, are too tired (so says our national ethos).

What is far more disturbing to me, personally, than the way sex is used to sell, is the way that violence against women is sort of the new pornography. So many of the criminal procedurals/movies/etc. that have been produced in the last few years have featured insanely violent crimes with women as the victims. This concerns me on so many levels.

Susanne said...

The most interesting thing to me about selling things with pictures of half-naked women was that they use it to get women to buy things. Advertisers who tried it with half-naked men mostly failed. (Sorry, I can't give a source for this, it is only one of the gazillion tidbits in my mind, I read somewhere.)

thailandchani said...

Snos, I like humor.. but it can't attract me to someone. It's all about trust stuff for me.

It will be interesting to see your post. :)


Painted Maypole, thank you. :)


Carla, yes, Starbucks seems to be the Walmart of coffee stands. I just don't see anything so special about that coffee that it warrants all of franchises everywhere. It's trendy. What will they do with all those franchises when people get tired of it?


Anvil, it's just unbelievable! Their coffee simply isn't that good! And can you imagine paying that much for a cup of coffee?


Mitzh, yes... eventually something needs to be done. I guess women just have to keep hounding away at it.


Thomas, I'm all about family businesses for a variety of reasons. Not just economics but culture as well. Family businesses are good for a lot of things. If I can, I would much rather go to a family business.


Pam, thanks. :)


Bob, thanks. I haven't seen that particular ad. I guess at least they gave it a try.

Your daughter will have a rough time. Being "different" is just too hard sometimes.

Wish I knew a viable solution.


Gwen, that's a really good point and, yes, violence against women is the plot line for many movies and TV shows. How often do we see it the other way around?

And for that matter, why do we need the violence at all?




Lee said...

Ummm, I don't like Starbucks but if Marky mark were there serving with his shirt off, I would go visit. ;)

Oh my, I think I'm a sexist pig. What happened?

Just sayin.

QT said...

Chani - While I don't have a problem with sexual content in general, I do have a big problem with violence. I figure everyone is going to see a naked body at some point in their lives - but hopefully not a dead one.

I also think there are women that use their bodies to their advantage and why should we fault them? Some of us have brains, some of us have big boobs - granted, it is a crass and easy way out, but I don't think it is my place to tell someone what to do with their body.

As for ads targeting women, I will tell you my favorite -"Gillette, the best a man can get"