Dolce & Gabbana Ad.

Marxist Analysis of Dolce & Gabbana Advertisement 

Dolce & Gabbana can easily be identified as a billion dollar company due to their successful marketing. Known to be “…the most powerful and influential designers of our time.” (Bio 2005) this pair of Milan based designers are world renown.  Through fashion shows, perfumes, jewelry, accessories, and clothes Dolce & Gabbana rule the fashion industry. Though despite their existing fame, like many brands a key technique that has been used continually to market their product is advertising. Through advertising they continue to widen their audience, further developing their success. However, the ads are quite puzzling because they seem to sell ideologies and people rather than products. Oftentimes the only things on the ad are the very attractive men with a minimal number of women, all alongside a Dolce & Gabbana label. Rather than an association being made between the clothes and jewelry of the brand, people know the label as a result of the relationship they make between the sexually appealing models and the label. Thus, consumers are drawn to the sexuality and appearance of the people in the ad rather than the products the company is selling. In the ad a strong sense of hegemony is presented with respect to gender biases, and the reinforcement of certain socioeconomic factors and various norms and values popularly followed in society.

Through a Marxist perspective hegemony is defined as having a dominant group’s ideology over other groups, where these dominant groups are empowered (Sellnow 72).  Through the manner in which Dolce & Gabbana advertise their company, hegemony is evident in many aspects. For instance, as a result of hegemony and the popular ideology of men being more dominant than women, gender biases arise. This ad is targeted equally to men as to women, but reflects two different messages.  Men would be drawn to the idea of having an attractive physical appearance that would interest the female population. This is supported by the attractive, well bodied, greasy looking male models standing around the woman lying down. Here the belief arises that through physical attractiveness women would be drawn to them and their dominating masculine character. Whereas although women are also drawn to the aspect of physical attractiveness, the idea of being desired by men is also evident. They are drawn towards the idea that Dolce & Gabbana would give you the sexual appeal that every women desires. This is reinforced with the male model standing over the female, looking at her with that sense of desire, while the other models also look at her with interest. The ad reinforces the idea of inequality between men and women due to the differentiation between them in this ad. Furthermore, due to the lack of clothing worn, consumers are left to wonder what the company is actually selling. The only clear understanding that can be attained from the ad is the definition of what a man and woman are supposed to be.

Generally, socioeconomic factors help to define the social status of individuals in a society.  These social statuses then go on to distinguish the various classes in society and indicate the various ‘power levels’. Therefore, hegemony is once again evident, this time with respect to social classes. Despite the unclear distinction of whom this ad is directed towards, it is implied through the presentation of the ad. Most Dolce and Gabbana advertisements are found in fashion focused magazines such as GQ, Elle, and Vogue. Oftentimes these are the most expensive magazines being sold and are bought by certain kinds of people. That is to say, that these are not the normal magazines that an average individual purchases for leisure, such as PEOPLE, US and Cosmopolitan.  Such magazines advertise ‘high-class brands’ that would not be found in your average magazine. Moreover, they are usually directed towards a higher class of people, such as the ‘fashion fanatics’ – the ones who know everything there is to know about the fashion industry, the ‘business men’ (GQ) – the men who would like to carry themselves as classy as they can, and the others who are only satisfied by wearing topnotch brands. Therefore, the ads are usually directed towards upper class individuals, and as a result differentiate between the different classes in society. Furthermore, this differentiation emphasizes the ideology that the wealthy, those who can afford these high-end brands, are more empowered than the average individuals in society. Although this is not explicitly stated in the ad, the distribution of the ad alongside its intended audience, clearly identify that  not everyone is suggested into buying such products.

The term economic metaphor is popularly used by Marxist theorists to explain how almost anything is representative of the norms, values, and practices evident in society (Sellnow 73). From the presentation of the Dolce & Gabbana ad one can determine a clear definition of men and women. From the ad one understands a preferred meaning as the differentiation between men and women.  Men are shown to be dominant and thus, very masculine individuals; while women are illustrated as objects of sexual desire. The ‘ideal images’ of men and women are portrayed by the models in this ad as they are beautiful, youthful, and extremely, physically attractive. Similarly, this is a fairly popular ideology in society as to what women and men should look like. The ad reinforces norms in society with respect to the differences existent between men and women and therefore, illustrates the lack of equality between these genders. Through the Marxist perspective it can be determined that because of this sense of inequality, the hegemony of men being more empowered than women is clearly illustrated. However, from simply looking at the ad one may not realize that. The only way one can truly understand this ideology being expressed is through questioning the behavior of the men compared to the woman that could be understood in the ad.

Essentially, Dolce & Gabbana is a very successful international brand. Their success lies in their products, but also within their marketing strategies. Through acknowledging popular societal norms and values they are able to identify successful targets to market their products to. Through looking at Marxist materialism and economic metaphors, it can clearly be identified that Dolce & Gabbana target the unrealistic and biased ideologies that members of society have. Dolce & Gabbana is the best known brand within the fashion industry, however, they approach their consumers the same way all other brands do, by understanding the desires of consumers and then further reinforcing these unrealistic ideologies. Moreover, they increase their success by reinforcing unrealistic norms and values within society, such as the existence of empowerment. Dolce & Gabbana do not represent good values and morals, but they know how to manipulate and work in favor of society.

MLA Citation:

Bio. Dolce and Gabbana Biography.  2005. 30 January 2012 <http://www.thebiographychannel.co.uk/biographies/dolce-gabbana.html&gt;

Sellnow, D. Deanna. The Rhetorical Power of Popular Culture. California: SAGE Publications INC., 2010.

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2 thoughts on “Dolce & Gabbana Ad.

  1. The first step of a Marxist analysis is “selecting an appropriate text”, and the Dolce & Gabanna advertisement that you chose provided plenty to analyze. The brand and advertisement in question represents a powerful company in the fashion industry that caters to upper-class clientele. Although I do not consider myself a fashionable person, I am still familiar with the brand name and the fact that it is synonymous with expensive fashion. The specific advertisement you chose depicts five physically fit men and one attractive woman being held down. You have pointed out an interesting point in that the advertisement doesn’t seem to be displaying a Dolce & Gabanna product at all, but instead we are left with gender and socioeconomic hegemony. Your analysis also looked at the intended audience of the advertisement in regards to the channels (specific magazines) that it was distributed. Although you have constructed an effective Marxist analysis, your blog post could have benefited from a more critical examination of the advertisement itself. Specifically, the woman in the advertisement appears to be held down against her will, struggling against the strength of one of the males.

    Your analysis started off strong, with your first argument being the strongest. You identified that the “ad is targeted equally to men as to women, but reflects two different messages” (Nivee).This is an important point because Dolce & Gabanna is a brand for both males and females, and for the advertisement to be successful it must appeal to both. You continued by explaining that due to the males’ physical attractiveness “women would be drawn to them and their dominating masculine character” and as a result, women want to be desired by such men (Nivee). This essentially points out that women are dependent on the attention of men. Indeed, in the text a common example in the United States is that “men are more empowered than women” (Sellnow). Your preferred reading of the advertisement shows that this hegemony is reinforced by the scene displayed. As far as improving this argument goes, I think you could have been more critical of what the viewer sees in the advertisement. The woman appears to be forcefully held down by one of the men, this could possibly symbolize the hegemony itself, in that a man is dominating a woman.

    Your second argument, in which you delve into the socioeconomic implications of the text, could have been strengthened by support from the text. You were able to point out that the advertisement would be marketed to a “higher class of people, such as the ‘fashion fanatics’ […], the ‘business men’ […], and the others who are only satisfied by wearing topnotch brands” (Nivee). But this argument could have been stronger with such terms as models and anti-models. The models being the people described in that quotation and the anti-models are people who do not consume high-end fashion. You could also write about the Marxist idea of materialism in this argument, and how it separates the people you described from the rest of society with high-end material possessions.

  2. The woman in the ad “appears” to be held down against her will. But what appeals to women is that it really isn’t against her will as we all know she is on a safe set in a safe environment, getting to “play” the part. That is the appealing part. Women want to “play” the part in a safe environment and get to be the centerpiece and pretend.

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