Barbara Barrett

Romance at Work

Midwest Musings: Sexy Men Sell

Driven to Matrimony, my latest release from The Wild Rose Press, will become part of the Amazon KDP program on September 25. During the next three months, prior to worldwide release on January 15, 2014, Amazon will have exclusive rights to the book, which will be available at a reduced price.DriventoMatrimony_7901_750

Caveat to readers: This week’s post is a rant, of sorts. I just need to get these thoughts off my chest (pun intended; you’ll see why, if you read on).

I am one of those writers who needs background noise to compose and write. Bad, bad habit, but it is so ingrained in how I work, it would take too much effort to reform at this point in my life. In my office, the television set is off to the side, so I mostly hear rather than see what is taking place. But every so often, I take a break and sneak a peek at the screen. More and more frequently of late, I’ve been discovering the advertising of everyday products, mostly things women consumers might purchase, has turned a corner. Nearly naked men are hawking their wares, their products, that is.

This phenomenon may have been slipping into commercials for some time; it just took me a while to notice.

Photo by Leslie Sloan

Photo by Leslie Sloan

It started a year or so back. I don’t even remember the product (so much for the advertiser’s ploy). I just remember this delicious-looking African-American hunk riding bareback (?) and bare chest (or was I just overfantasizing?) on a horse while the background changed several times. Anyone remember what that was all about?

Time passed. This summer, at least three entrees appeared. One is for a toilet drain cleaner. To demonstrate how the product boasts two hard-hitting cleaning/declogging features, two different “workmen” show up at the woman’s door ready to “go to work” for her,  while she “enjoys” their respective talents. Relatively mild as far as blatancy is concerned, but it set the stage for its cousins.

The next one broke the “blatancy barrier.” This was for a “Zesty Italian” brand of salad dressing. I’ve seen two versions thus far. In other words, the first one must have produced good numbers for the advertiser. A good-looking guy is cooking at an outdoor stove/grill where the heat must be at full throttle because flames erupt to leave him shirtless. “Oh, my!” (his words). In the second commercial, the heat melts butter and he has to drench his t-shirt in order to cool off.

The third ad is for a floor cleaner. Again, the woman goes to the door to be met by a shirtless male who’s come to “clean her floors.” The woman, a plus-sized African-American, has appeared in several commercials for this product, some of which alluded to the “romance” of clean floors, but this one definitely shifts more to the sensual, steamy side.

The topper is a short video one of my friends shared on Facebook recently. It provides a very short lesson for women on how to check themselves for signs of breast cancer, only the no female ever appears or speaks on this video. The “TLC” method (touch, look, check) is entirely explained and demonstrated by shirtless, gorgeous  men, the idea being that women will pay more attention to them than if their female peers were to tell them. All of the above are tastefully done and certainly got my interest.  But I have to ask myself, “What is going on here?” The ad world has turned to scantily-clad females for years to sell products, but shirtless, ripped young men, not so much. Should I be offended or encouraged by this transition? After all, the message does indicate women have achieved a certain “equality” as consumers, if advertisers are now appealing to our more prurient interests. On the other hand, do I want my “prurient” interests appealed to?

Before you remind me, I’ll say it first; as an author of sensual contemporary romances, doesn’t sex also sell my books? My answer is, somewhat. The category of romance in which I write calls for sensual (not steamy) love scenes, so I include those. But I’d like to think it’s the characters and their stories that are the essence of my writing and what really sells them.

What do you think? Is it just me or has the advertising industry found a new way to target for sex appeal?

9781440556463 The Sleepover ClauseAndHeCooksToo_7346_750

The Sleepover Clause

Amazon ebook, Amazon POD

Barnes and Noble

iTunes

iBookstore

Kobo

And He Cooks Too

The Wild Rose Press, TWRP POD

Amazon Kindle, Amazon POD

Barnes and Noble Nook

iTunes

iBookstore POD

Kobo

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2 Comments

  1. Barbara, I believe sex sells. With our romance novels, I think we sell the enticement of sex. Readers come to the book with the belief of a tale of true love and romance and sex is the icing on the cake.

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