Ad critique: Common themes in SKYY vodka ad and music videos

Watching an advertisement for SKYY vodka, I noticed several elements of the standard music video. In the advertisement, women far outnumber men and women are heavily made up. Women’s bodies are fragmented and sexualized, with the camera frequently cutting to a close angle of women’s legs and hips. The setting is one typical in a music video: a hedonistic party scene, replete with alcohol and money. The main difference between this ad and a standard industry music video is the presence a product, SKYY vodka. The insertion of the product serves to further objectify women; shots of women’s body parts are interspersed with close ups of the SKYY bottle, suggesting a connection between women’s bodies and the product.

The similarities between the SKYY ad and standard music videos point to a common theme astutely summarized by Hesse-Biber: “Our society encourages women to see themselves as objects” (Hesse-Biber 62). The setting of the advertisement and the product itself (alcohol) support the truth of this statement; they tell women that their presence is only important as accessories to men in a drunken dance party, not in any type of substantial, intellectual setting.

Hesse-Biber, Sharlene Nagy. “Selling the Body Beautiful: Food, Dieting, and Recovery.” The Cult of Thinness. New York: Oxford UP, 2007. 61-82.


One thought on “Ad critique: Common themes in SKYY vodka ad and music videos

  1. noahfeit

    I, too, laugh and cringe simultaneously at advertisements that use beautiful men and women to sell alcohol. I recently visited the Heineken Factory in Amsterdam, which presents many of the same images in the SKYY Vodka commercial, to which you refer.

    The advertisement of alcoholic beverages has always been particularly ironic to me as well. On the one hand, we cognitively associate top-shelf liquor with beauty and affluence. In reality, however, alcohol facilitates violence and disease. Can we even call such advertisements manipulative anymore? The association between beauty and a product that slowly kills us is so preposterous that I have trouble seeing how we hold on to nonsensical beliefs about the product.

    With that said, the association—cognitive or not—is harmful. First and foremost, advertisements of this sort reinforce heteronormative images and themes. Thus, they ostracize those who don’t fit into a very narrow vision of what it means to be beautiful. Secondly, it encourages the consumption of a product that promotes sickness and violence. This advertisement insinuates that men who drink will have their sexual desires fulfilled. If left unfulfilled, this expectation combined with intoxication, can lead to sexual violence.


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