Visual Pleasure Theory: Givenchy Perfume


Visual Pleasure Theory: Givenchy Perfume

            Givenchy is a prominent company offering what they claim as the best in perfume and cologne. In their advertisements, the one shown above in particular, the creators use concepts of the visual pleasure theory of rhetoric to inspire consumers into purchasing their product. Givenchy’s addition to their ANGE OU DÉMON franchise is shown within this advertisement. The perfume is said to “convey the secrets of femininity: Mysterious, luminous and seductive” and to have a “tantalizing” scent. The advertisement itself depicts a young woman turned away from the camera, this emphasises her back and feminine curves, which is further accentuated by the reveling dress the model wears. The model’s face is also distorted by decorative designs around her eyes, acting similar to a masquerade mask. This makes it so that the viewer cannot identify on a personal level with the model, effectively making her a fetish.

            Within this advertisement the feminine characteristics of a slim curvaceous body is designed to be seen as desirable. The viewer sees the model in fetishism and acts as a voyeur, viewing this sexually desired woman and craving her. The dress worn by the model acts as the voyeurism itself, a dress such as this which does not adequately cover the woman is against societal expectations and therefore scandalous. This adds to the theme of scopophelia used to insure the viewer will desire her. This is accomplished either through male gaze and seeing her as sexually desirable or in conjunction with the mirror stage, a section of psychoanalytic theory. This mirror stage is also based on the viewer seeing the woman as desirable, but not necessarily as a partner or romantic figure for themselves. This technique is used to adapt the viewer’s self-image, which is done by influencing the viewer to consciously or unconsciously compare themselves to the model.  If the viewer does not believe they are similar enough this most usually affects the self-image negatively. In this advertisement the creators hope to influence the self -image negatively, giving the use of their perfume as an alternative to being undesirable. By wearing the perfume the viewer can add to the similarities between themselves and the sought after model. If however, the viewer considers themselves under the same classification as the model the goal of the company is to reaffirm the sexual desire of being beautiful and wearing their perfume. This is done by using the effects of narcissism, if the viewer’s think highly of themselves they will believe they deserve to use the perfume, since the model being similar to them is using it as well. These different perspectives of viewers can have hazardous implications.

            The targeted audience of this advertisement is young women, relatively close to the age of the model. The implications on this group may include a negative self-image, or an inflammation in one’s personal vanity as discussed previously. There are other possible implications for the target group such as believing that the use of this perfume could change your appearance in any way to make you more desirable. If this is believed, then disappointment will soon follow if the product does not suit your needs. Other groups beside that of the intended audience also may suffer implication from seeing this advertisement. Men, from a young adult age and up, may experience the concept of male gaze, seeing the model as the ideal woman. When woman in general cannot live up to the standards of these men, thinking all women should be as flawless as the model, conflict may quickly ensue. The last general grouping of a possible audience would be that of children. Young girls may feel they can never grow up to be like the model and may try to act older then they truly are. Young boys could acquire a perceived taste to women like the model, who would be much older and unacceptable for them to court. All these implications could befall on any audience however; the implications are not strictly limited to the groups suggested.

            Media and popular culture will always be looking for new tactics to use in advertisements and other mediated sources. The visual pleasure theory is an effective method to use when trying to sell a product using sexual appeal. Within the Givenchy perfume advertisement the use of parts of psychoanalytic theory, fetishism, voyeurism, and narcissism are evident to sell the product. This is effective but also may cause negative implications.


Works cited

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

GIVENCHY Ange ou Démon Le Secret Eau De Parfum Spray.” Web. 28 Feb. 2012. <


One thought on “Visual Pleasure Theory: Givenchy Perfume

  1. This analysis was based on the visual pleasure theory. The article, which was analyzed, was from an advertisement for a Givenchy perfume. The picture portrayed in the advertisement shows a young woman with her face masked turned away to expose her back. The author uses many different examples to support the visual pleasure theory analysis.
    Firstly, the author used the idea of scopophelia in the analysis. Scopophelia can be defined as the love of the pleasurable looking. The author argues that the curvaceous body of the model is seen as desirable which leads to the theme of scopophelia. I believe that this argument was successful because since the model’s body is exposed, it is perceived as scandalous which reinforces this theme.
    Next, the author expands on the idea of fetishism and narcissism. The author states, “When woman in general cannot live up to the standards of these men, thinking all women should be as flawless as the model, conflict may quickly ensue.” I agree with this but I believe that including the fact that the advertisement suggests it is normal for women to be gazed at as objects could have advanced this idea. It also shows that women are only considered desirable or beautiful if they look sexy and curvaceous as shown in the advertisement. I think the idea of the dress being worn by the model portrayed voyeurism was also a successful argument because it is a scandalous dress that gives the perception that people would look at the models back at first glare without even noticing it.
    One argument, which I would have to disagree with, would be the mirror stage. The author states, “If the viewer does not believe they are similar enough this most usually affects the self-image negatively.” I think that everyone has his or her own view on self-image and since in the advertisement the model is masked it also contradicts the idea of self-image. Some people may look at the advertisement and desire to be like the model and that also may be the reason why they would purchase the perfume. On the other hand, some people might be confident in their self-image and an advertisement such as this one may have no effect on how they feel they should be viewed or perceived in society to some extent.
    I would agree with the author that the target group for this advertisement would be young women, close to the age of the model. I think the author was successful in including the concept of male gaze and how males might see the model as their “ideal woman.” I think that argument about how it would impact young girls was not as successful because this advertisement for the most part, would not be exposed to young girls. Instead, it would be in magazine’s targeted toward young men or women.
    Overall, I believe that the author did a good job examining the advertisement and relating it to the visual pleasure theory. The examples the author used were very easy to understand based on the advertisement and gives critics a clear idea of the analysis.

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