I should take my digital camera to Beverly Hills and snap some photos of typical Guess? billboards so you can see what I mean, but I can’t be bothered. Please enjoy my verbal description instead: every Guess billboard (with the exception of the Paris Hilton ones) contains several women and one lucky man. The staging usually suggests that all the gals are actually “with” the guy. But sometimes they despair of subtlety, and arrange unbuttoned clothes and straying hands to give the distinct impression we’re about five minutes from learning just how many women a guy can do at one time.
This is how the billboards look, regardless of whether they’re featuring Guess’ line for women, for men, or the whole shebang (pun intended). This suggests Guess finds female customers responsive to ads featuring hoardes of nymphettes draping themselves around Mr. Studly.
My question is: why? Do women just look at the clothes and not see the rest of the ad? Or does the idea of a harem sound just fine to many of them? I have to admit, the idea of me having a male harem sounds good to me, but I wouldn’t expect men to react well to images of it on a billboard meant to sell power tools to them.
At this point, I feel I should mention that Guess Jeans used to be made in the US, and were of high quality back then (I had a pair that lasted ten years). The ads were racy, even though they only featured one woman gettin’ it on with a guy. Even weirder, she was usually the focus of the ad: if anyone faced away from the camera, for example, it was sure to be the guy. They had a TV commercial that featured a girl getting bored by her fling with a cowboy, and shuffling the cowboy off in a taxi. It ended with him saying in a drawl, “Hey, where you goin’? … Wait, where’m I goin’?” That was a nice twist on the usual stereotype of men dumping women when they get tired of them.
Then Guess started outsourcing to sweat shops in foreign countries, and their clothes became so cutrate I had to return a pair when a hole rotted through them mid-thigh after maybe four launderings. That was my last experience with Guess. And that’s about when the ads changed to the new harem format.
Is there a definite corollary between sexism and low quality? Further research is required.