Rag mags get raunchier

September 24, 1992|By Roy H. Campbell | Roy H. Campbell,Knight-Ridder News Service

The first in the latest round of smutty fashion advertising appeared in the September issues of Details magazine and Gentlemen's Quarterly. Wilke-Rodriguez, a men's sportswear company, ran a two-page spread featuring a male and a female model in various graphic, compromising positions.

Now comes Request Jeans with a raunchy 48-page advertising insert. It tells a tale of two female robbers who pick up a male hitchhiker, take him to a motel in the Mojave Desert and have their way with him. There's lots of nudity and simulated sex acts. The ad is inserted in the 200,000 copies of Details' October issue, in magazines that circulate in California and New York.

It's no surprise Details, a semi-racy men's style magazine, would run such a spread. Its editorial product often features topless women or articles of questionable taste. What is surprising is how many clothing companies think they must resort to soft-core porn to sell clothes.

Of course, fashion and beauty companies have long relied on sexual images to sell their goods, but these new ads go too far.

Mitchell Fox, Details publisher, defended his magazine's recent racy ads in a telephone interview. He said sexually suggestive images were a staple in advertising, and he doubted the magazine's mostly young male readers would find them offensive.

"It's completely consistent with the value system our readers have," he said.

Advertisers such as Wilke-Rodriguez "have to take it to the next level to ensure that they will capture the attention of the readers," Mr. Fox said.

Details has turned down other such ads, especially when they encourage aggressive behavior against women, he said, but the Wilke-Rodriguez ad and the Request ad showed "consenting adults."

The Request Jeans ad is not the first such insert. Last year, Calvin Klein made news with an insert in Vanity Fair, a nudity-filled rock-and-roll spread shot by Bruce Weber. A Wall Street Journal article later revealed that the ad had done nothing to improve dismal sales of Klein's tight-fit jeans, out of favor with young shoppers who prefer stylish, loose-fitting jeans.

Such failures just might make companies rethink their marketing marketing strategies.

*

In other fashion advertising news, many designers are coming out with multipage advertisements, some of which tell a story or focus on a theme. The problem is there are so many multipage ads that it is hard to get through a fashion magazine.

Enough already.

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