Visual Pleasure Theory: Victoria’s Secret Commercial

Victoria’s Secret is an American retailer of women’s wear, lingerie, and beauty products run by the Limited Brands company. Victoria’s Secret is a very successful business, with over 1000 stores worldwide, and pulls in more than four billion dollars in sales per year. The company’s success is largely based on their successful marketing campaign including: commercials, fashion shows, catalogues, and most importantly their extremely attractive models. The video clip attached is one of the many commercials for Victoria’s Secret, and is highly effective due to its eye candy appeal. The advertisement encourages the viewers to look pleasurably at the females. The women watching the advertisement want to be like the models and the men watching are attracted to the models. The advertisement includes the three constructs of visual pleasure theory, which include: fetishism, voyeurism, and narcissism.

Fetishism is defined as, “getting pleasure from openly looking at an object that is satisfyingin itself” (Sellnow 145). The women in the advertisement are displayed as fetishes, which is defined as an object to be gazed at openly with desire. The women are considered objects rather than people because of what they are wearing and the actions they are seen doing. The women are dressed in lingerie for the entirety of the advertisement. The very first image consists of a woman wearing a black bra and underwear, wearing heals, and the viewer cannot see the women’s face clearly. The focus of the woman is on her body rather than her face, therefore emphasising her long legs and flat tummy. The woman is filmed as walking towards the viewer flaunting her body and the lingerie she is wearing. Right from the beginning, the woman is setting an image of how a lady should look and feel wearing Victoria’s Secret clothing. This is, looking sexy and feeling confident. Another example is the image displayed in the video of the women sitting on a bench with a pink scarf wrapped around her with her legs crossed. In this image she is showing off her slinky legs as well as advertising the high heel shoes she is wearing.

Voyeurism, which is described as instances where people engage in sexual, or scandalous acts are being watched without them knowing it, is present in many examples throughout the commercial (Sellnow 147). The women in the clip engage in behaviours that are not considered appropriate to watch because the objective of the commercial is to tease the viewer in a sexually pleasing way. This is one of the key marketing practices because the sexual references allow men to enjoy the commercials and make women want to be seductive like the models. One of the best examples in the clip of voyeurism is when a blonde haired woman is rolling around on a bed touching her hair and giving a seductive look to the voyeur, while dressed in only a bra, underwear and sexy high heels. The audience watching the clip is the voyeur because we are watching the model’s seductive actions. At the end of the video she appears again and strokes her chin and opens her mouth in the slightest way. Another example is when a different blonde woman is dressed in a pink silk night gown and pulls up the corner of the gown so that the viewer can get a peak of her underwear. Gestures like these are viewed as seductive and normal for the women in the commercial.

Narcissism is present throughout the entire advertisement because the viewer looks at the women as someone who they ought to be like (Sellnow 187). The women in the video all appear to be extremely thin, with very feminine attributes such as plump lips, long hair, and large breasts. Each woman is also dressed in lingerie to add to the sexiness of the commercial. The images portrayed in the clip lead the viewer to believe that this is how women ought to dress and look like, and that to be feminine one must be thin and have all the attributes the models embody. Women’s self-image is influenced by watching these commercials because they feel that they need to look like the models. The men that watch these commercials view the women in the clips as beautiful and are attracted to the lingerie that the women are wearing. This leads to men wanting their woman to dress and look like the models, reinforcing the pressure women have to look like the women shown in the commercial. Because women feel a want to be like these women, they purchase the merchandise sold by the company; therefore, revealing the company’s secret to success.

Overall, the messages behind this clip reinforce that it is normal and desirable for women to be gazed upon as objects. The commercial defines what beautiful and sexy is; which is for women to be young looking, thin, have large breasts, and wear sexy lingerie by Victoria’s Secret. The target audience for the commercial would be geared more towards women from ages sixteen to forty. If the viewers’ believe that the messages given in the clip are true, possible implications can occur, such as lowered self-image, and feeling the need to lose weight in order to look beautiful and attract men.

Works Cited

Sellnow, Deanna D. “A Visual Perspective .” The Rhetorical Power of Popular Culture. N.p.: Sage, 2010. N. pag. Print.

Victoria’s Secret – 2010 Commercial (by Michael Bay). Michael Bay. You Tube. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Mar. 2012. <‌watch?v=TmNEG8IFd_Y&gt;.


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