Spectatorship and Power Relations in Advertising

In the first advertisement, Gucci attempts to sell a men’s fragrance with the use of an attractive male model. Not only due to his relaxed pose of confidence, but also due to the model’s direct gaze toward the viewer, we can clearly see that this model is aware that we are staring at him. According to French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, the gaze is the center of how individuals enact desire (Practices of Looking).  The model uses this gaze as a tool of desire for the viewers; we want to keep looking at his attractiveness while his prolonged gaze indicates his desire to captivate the attention of the viewer. The lingering stare can be interpreted as a sense of control or power over the viewer as model’s eyes attract and almost hypnotize.

The advertisement as a whole interpellates, or hails us as viewers, drawing us into the product through the use of the model. The model’s gaze is the major attraction in the photo. His blue eyes stare almost endlessly into our eyes as we admire the advertisement. Marketers for Gucci have cleverly chosen the coloring of this advertisement. The neutral tones of the background and the browns and whites of the model’s clothing create a wonderful foreground for his eyes. The blue color, which also happens to be the same blue as the fragrance bottle, pops right off the page and is the first thing that the viewer notices in the advertisement.

The second advertisement also features a Gucci product, but instead this time it features two people, actor Chris Evans and a female model. Similar to the first advertisement, the product features a male fragrance. Both models are wearing next to nothing within the frames of the advertisement, creating a sexual and seductive atmosphere. Each has a hand on the other in a sensual manner, adding even more to the ambiance.

There are various power relations within this advertisement. On the surface, the viewer can see that Chris Evans seems to have some power over the female model. The fragrance that he is supposedly wearing has a certain control over her, seducing her with sensual emotions. Furthermore, the woman’s eyes are closed, intensifying these emotions. The phrase on the top of the advertisement “Gucci Guilty” also adds to the sexual atmosphere as if to say that purchasing this product is somewhat of a guilty pleasure.

Much like the first advertisement, the gaze of the main subject plays a major role in the photograph. In addition to holding a certain power over the female, Evans also employs his gaze to exert power over the viewer. His eyes stare incessantly into the eyes of the viewer.  Unlike that of the first ad, the gaze of Chris Evans in this photo has a different sort of power over the viewer. Perhaps it is to incite jealously within the audience, enticing them to purchase this product and reap the rewards (this beautiful woman).  In my opinion, the woman in the ad evokes a stronger gaze from Evans. She gives him the bragging rights, shown within his prolonging stare outward.

Both photographs show the power that the gaze evokes within advertising. The gaze can indicate desire between subject and viewer as well as creating power relations within an image. In both cases, the gaze within advertisements effectively entices the viewers to purchase a product.

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