Study Shows Violent Fashion Ads “Lure” Consumers, But Is That All?

So, 2008 and 2009 saw some of the grossest, bloodiest, most violent fashion ads of all time. To refresh your memory, Duncan Quinn once depicted mobsters torturing female bodies, Alexander McQueen placed models on a bed of snakes, and Marc Jacobs dangled women out of buildings. (Drastic recessionary action?)

While things have quieted down a little bit, we may expect to see a resurgence in savage advertising thanks to a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, which is making its rounds around the internet. The investigation, conducted by two female researchers, one from the University of Saskatchewan and the other from Santa Clara University, recorded the reaction and engagement of women as they looked at violent fashion campaigns. Overall, these images proved to be more alluring than just visually pleasing spreads. Reports “[The researchers] found that in addition to expected modes of engagement with ads, some women approached fashion advertisement as a type of fiction. ‘These women would be transported into the story world set in motion by the ad’s pictures, asking themselves, ‘What is happening here?’ and ‘What will happen next?” the authors write.”

Fair enough. After all, these brutish pictures caught our attention enough over the past few years. (Although we weren’t imagining scenarios inside the photos so much as imagining what we wanted to do to the people dreaming them up.) While the study claims this mode of advertising succeeds in “luring” in customers, there’s little said about the correlation between effective imagery and consumer action. The researchers also interviewed and surveyed only 18 women, which seems like a small sampling to draw conclusions from. Questions? Comments? Thoughts? []