Sex Sells

I’m still waffling about the title of this post, as I know the spam-catcher is going to have a hayday. However, there’s no way around this overwhelmingly obvious truth in Vegas: sex sells. And, quite frankly, that bothers me. Aside from my moral quandary about using sex as a selling tool, I feel like it’s bad marketing.

First, the moral issues. It’s disconcerting to walk down a street in broad daylight, and see people in t-shirts with a phone number and the slogan, “Girls Direct to YOU…… 24/7!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” They stand on the corners slapping trading cards of provocative pictures on their hands, and thrust them at you as you walk by. There’s trucks that drive down the street, with the sole purpose of carrying a giant billboard to advertise these women, and huge signs on every hotel boast some kind of topless review or burlesque show. I’m sorry, but I don’t think our society needs any more encouragement to have promiscuous sex, and I find it disgusting that in 2011, we still degrade women to nothing more than sex objects. I literally heard a man and a woman negotiating for women on the street. NEGOTIATING for women! Being from a conservative, Christian family in the South, I haven’t been exposed to such blatant, overt, sexual advertising. Sure, we see it in everyday innuendo and less-than-clothed advertisements, but open price discussions are unheard of where I’m from. People may disagree that promiscuous sex is immoral, but I would wager most would agree that negotiating the sale of another human’s most private possession is morally deplorable. We see stories about rape, abuse, and trafficking all over the world, but we’ve got a thriving market right here at home. We send aid and workers and police to fight the problem abroad, but pour money into billboards to advertise it in Vegas. Does anyone else find this to be a contradiction?

Second, I think it’s bad marketing to use sex to sell. What do sushi and sex have to do with each other? Why would you need to go topless to sing songs from the 1950s? Are your food and voice sub-par without that extra little umph of a naked woman? There’s plenty of places that serve great food, and put on a great show, without resorting to catering to man’s (well, humans’, but particularly man’s) basest instinct. The argument that people like good scenery while they dine or listen to music rings true… and there’s plenty of marble, paint, gold, fountains, and greenery to enhance your experience. It’s a cheap shot to make everything about sex, since it’s a strong biological imperative. People get up-in-arms about marketing to children, as they’re susceptible to all manner of suggestion. But, where’s the outrage at using sex to sell? And don’t tell me it’s because adults “know better”. Look at Axe, the company that sells men’s body products on the premise that you’ll have women throwing themselves at you after incorporating Axe into your daily routine. One story talks about a lawsuit from a disgruntled customer, who claims that he’s seen no “effect” after using the products. Cars, phones, shoes, and the list goes on, tell you that you’ll get more sex if you buy their product. We all know we’re not going to get rich quick, we’re not going to lose weight fast, and we’re not going to stay young forever, but for some reason, we all think we’ll be sexier or get more sex! These claims are equally ridiculous, but people are less likely to dismiss them. Again, let your product stand on its own merit. Am I the only one that questions the quality of the ACTUAL product when they feel they must use sex to sell?

Las Vegas knows how to sell sex. In fact, part of me wonders if they ONLY know how to sell sex, as food, shows, and other attractions are all paired with random sexy images.  The advertisement for Celine Dion features a picture of her back, in an extremely low-cut gown, with the slogan “Celine’s back”. Clever turn of a phrase, I suppose, but what does her bare back have to do with her ability to sing? Vegas has some great attractions, but I, for one, can do without the sale of sex.

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