Tom Ford, self-proclaimed objectifier

Posted by Molly Lamoureux

If you know anything about anything in the advertising world, you know that sex sells. Tom Ford knows it too.

Embed from Getty Images

Ford has recently been accused of using the nude female body to sell his products. After being in the fashion industry for nearly 30 years, it’s a miracle that the media has taken this long to make a fuss about it.

It was Ford’s recent interview with The Guardian that set off media sirens.

Ford has been featuring sexualized and scantily-clad models in his ads for decades – even since he was creative head at Gucci – but exploitation is the last thing on his mind.

In an interview, Ford said, “My women are not sitting there waiting for someone, they’re taking charge. Doesn’t matter whether they’re naked — they’re powerful, they’re smart, and you’re not going to get them if they don’t want you.”

Some people are furious with the designer’s repeated “offenses,” but I would argue that the fashion industry’s “King of Sex” is just being career-savvy. He knows that sex sells, and he’s not afraid to take advantage of it. One of the most controversial ad campaigns of all time is his 2007 Tom Ford for Men fragrance campaign. (Viewer discretion advised.)

Women aren’t the only ones in the Ford spotlight. He has consistently used both men and women as muses and subjects in his campaigns, and has no regrets.

“I’m an equal opportunity objectifier,” said Ford in an interview. “I’m just as happy to objectify men.”

If you Google “Tom Ford advertising,” you’re bound to get hundreds of similar results. And we all know that Ford isn’t the only one doing it; he’s just the most famous for doing it.

So the question remains: Is Ford unfairly exploiting and sexualizing people for monetary gain, or are his campaigning methods ethical? To what extent?


5 responses to “Tom Ford, self-proclaimed objectifier

  1. Personally, I don’t love the ads. I think they push a lot of boundaries as far as how much skin is “too much” skin. I think his ads are extremely close to crossing some lines. As much as I don’t like these ads, I don’t necessarily think I would consider them to be unethical. This type of advertising is nothing new, and because I don’t like the idea of brands using women’s sexuality to sell products, I actually think it helps Ford’s case that he “objectifies” men as well. It makes it less of a women’s issue and more of a nudity issue, if you will, and as long as these ads are being shown in the appropriate manner (in other words, not on huge billboards or television commercials), then I don’t have a problem with Tom Ford’s methods of advertising.

  2. Objectification is objectification, no matter what gender you identify with. Even if Ford is an “equal opportunity objectifier,” the fact is that he’s still objectifying people to sell product–and I would say that’s unethical. I’m all for free expression in advertising (or anywhere else), but reducing people solely down to their bodies can be harmful. Sure, we see this in advertising all the time, but that hardly makes it acceptable.

  3. So, one vote for ethical and one vote for unethical. I’m still undecided, but leaning with Lauren. Even though it is objectifying people to sell a product, I don’t think it crosses a line into unethical territory. We do see it all the time. We’re so used to it, so we’re barely phased by it. We are conditioned to accept this type of objectivity, and when we see men objectified in the same way, it makes us stop and look twice. That double standard is probably what bothers me most.

  4. I agree with Taylor. Just because something is commonplace in society, doesn’t make it ethical. That’s not to say that Tom Ford isn’t smart for using sex to sell. Yes, men are going to see that add and are psychologically going to be drawn to the product. I think the ad just reflects the ethics of Tom Ford and how how far he’s willing to go to brand himself.

  5. I agree with Taylor. Just because something is commonplace in society, doesn’t make it ethical. That’s not to say Tom Ford isn’t smart for using sex to sell. Yes, men are going to see that ad and psychologically be drawn to buying the product. The ad just shows the ethics–or lack there of–of the brand.

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