Blender is a concept store in Istanbul similar to Colette in Paris or Dover Street Market in London that also has a butcher shop in it.
Advertising Agency: Rafineri, Istanbul, Turkey
Creative Directors: Ayse Bali, Murat Cetinturk
Art Director: Can Guven
Copywriter: Gorkem Yegin
Photographer: Koray Birand
Published: April 2010
A young woman gazes seductively at the camera while her very thin naked body is sliced into literal pieces of meat, each piece of her is pierced by meat hooks hanging from the ceiling of an empty room. The ad titled Butcher Shop put out by Blender Concept Store of Istanbul, Turkey depicts such a scene and is meant to advertise their store. This ad epitomizes the problem with the objectification of women in advertising, which not only hurts women; it also hurts men in ways not typically discussed. Each piece of her body that has been sliced and hung separately on hooks is on display as if they are saying, “come and choose a piece to satisfy your appetite.” Rather than her being displayed as a whole and beautiful human being, she is offered up as merchandise to be bought, consumed, and discarded.
What this ad is supposed to be communicating about the store that placed it is unclear. By just looking at the ad it is hard to figure out what they selling or what audience they are trying to appeal to. Maybe that is the point. Of course, ads like this one hurt women tremendously, it lies to them saying that all they have to offer are the physical parts of their body. It is demeaning to women on so many levels it is actually tragic such an ad was ever made.
It is almost obvious that ads like this one are damaging to the emotional and physical well-being of women. What seems to be frequently neglected in public discourse is that the objectification of women is also very damaging to men as well. Many of these debase ads are meant to appeal to men and their natural desire and excitement for the female body. Pretty much from birth boys are bombarded with images of objectified women. As they grow and mature they are constantly being told and shown how they should perceive women through advertisements of products.
Men and boys desire healthy relationships just as much as women but unfortunately their ability to relate to women on an equal and humane level has been severely damaged by the media. On some levels, boys and men do not even know how to see women properly. They are constantly told to focus on women’s bodies, to look at their breasts, bottoms, legs, and how thin their bodies are. The Blender ad completed reinforces that distorted perception by separating those body parts and making them individual pieces rather than displaying them as a whole. As a consequence when many males begin to pursue women they do it for sexual conquest rather than friendship, companionship, and intimacy.
At the core, men do want intimacy as well, they just are not sure how to go about it because they are not taught how, they are taught how to “get laid.” The vast majority of relationships based on sexual conquest end in hurt, disappointment, and loneliness. While women are hurt from feeling used or even possibly used as well, men are frustrated and disappointed with their inability to relate and get to know the member of the opposite sex in a healthy way. There have been studies made that show how looking at these sexualized advertisements causes “devaluations of one’s— and one’s partner’s—attractiveness, attitudes supportive of aggressiveness toward women, triggering of gender stereotyping and gender role expectations, and distorted body image” (Reichert, A Test 82).
This horrific ad by Blender further accentuates this destructive and painful cycle. While the huge hooks suspend the young lady, her head is turned looking towards the viewer with her finger on her lips in a very seductive manner. She looks as if she is attempting to entice the viewer to go and use her. One of the very eerie aspects of this ad is that in reality, a woman in such a situation would be dead. It is as if whether she is dead or alive it does not matter, she is yours to use as you see fit. The most striking aspect of this image is how her body is literally sliced up into several pieces that show raw meat at the cuts. The combination of that violence along with being pierced by large hooks and suspended by chains also appeals to barbaric and animalistic ideas of her being a caught animal and is now used as bait for prey.
The tag line of the ad is also very disturbing as well, “The concept store with a butcher shop.” Seeing the words “butcher shop” written under a sliced-up woman hanging from meat hooks implies brutal violence has been committed against her body. Yet after such supposed violence has been done to her, she still looks very sexy. They make violence look so sexy and seductive in this ad with absolutely no consequence to the woman. The model looks as if she is enjoying having been cut into pieces and hung on hooks for men’s pleasure. The fact that each slice of her body looks so clean, with no blood, and each part of her still looks meaty and alive; the violence has been completely trivialized. She has been reduced to nothing but an object to satisfy hunger, especially sexual hunger.
Such an ad reinforces the lie to males that women are just pieces of flesh for them to pick and choose, to use and abuse. The fact that women are equal human beings that are much more than just a body is completely lost in this image. This psychological damage this could do on an impressionable young man is immense. The objectification sets him up for complete failure and hurt in his relationships with women. As the saying goes, “hurt people hurt people.” Unfortunately, so many innocent women are so often at the receiving end of the damage that has been done to young men’s perception of women.
Studies have shown that the sexual victimization of women portrayed in porn, non-porn films, and music videos increases supportive attitudes toward sexual violence. Despite the fact that the effects of sexual violence in advertising have not been extensively studied, there still is evidence that exposure to advertisements that sexually objectify women produces anti-woman attitudes. It is very clear though that ads such as Blender’s create environments where attitudes that reinforce the ideas that women are objects and that men are always sexually aggressive flourish (Stankiewicz 581).
The blame for such ads should not be pointed just at men or women but at all those involved in its production. Women and men are both guilty of such horrific objectification of their fellow human beings. To successfully sell products, adverts such as Butcher Shop are not necessary and should be avoided at all costs. There are countless other clever ways to display and sell products that will not hurt men and women in the same way sexual objectification and violent advertisements do.
Reichert, Tom, et al. “A Test of Media Literacy Effects and Sexual Objectification in Advertising.” Journal of Current Issues & Research in Advertising 29.1 (2007): 81-92. Communication & Mass Media Complete. EBSCO. Web. 21 Apr. 2010.
Stankiewicz, Julie, and Francine Rosselli. “Women as Sex Objects and Victims in Print Advertisements.” Sex Roles 58.7/8 (2008): 579-589. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 27 Apr. 2010.