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Impact of Advertising on Fashion


The use of advertising in the fashion industry was started as early as in the Victorian period. Advertising is been very important to the fashion industry as its one way of reaching a mass group of people quickly, as fashion today is very competitive and need speed marketing. Advertising is used from the high street fashion retailers to the low fashion retailers. According to (Dittrich,2000) it has been estimated that an average women sees between 400 to 600 advertisements per day. The fashionable female silhouette has changed with time and the body has been manipulated frequently (Fay and Price 1994) The most famous type of fashion that today’s consumers goes for is the fast fashion, where the latest line of clothing from a designer is copied by the fashion retailer especially stores in the middle fashion market like Top Shop, Marks and Spencer’s, Next , New look, and H&M. Thirty-two percent say that they get their clothing ideas from fashion magazines, up from 23% the previous year. (cottoninc 2000).

In fast fashion, sourcing and buying decisions are compounded by the speed by which decisions have to be made and innovation introduced into the store (Bruce & Daly 2006). The introduction to the store can be given through a mass media that is advertising, advertising can be done through many ways like television, print, ad radio, an even through word of mouth. According to Aaker et al (1994) advertising is effective to influence consumer attitude. Govoni et al mentioned that the most images of well-liked brands are established by successful advertising. Modern consumers want to be entertained as well as informed through advertising (Lea-Greenwood 2002). In 1996 companies invested more than $1 billion in athletic endorsements deals and approximately $ 10 billion more to advertise and promote the celebrities endorsements (Farrell et al., 2000). A recent estimate indicates that approximately 25 percent of American commercials use celebrity endorses (Shimp, 2003). Celebrity endorsements have become prevalent technique in advertising in the past recent years. The consumer’s attention is the most important to the retailers. The retailers use advertising as one of the strongest aspect to catch their consumer’s attention. in Japan, there are roughly 70 percent of Japanese commercials featuring a celebrity (Hus and McDonald, 2002).

Advertising also has some negative and positive effects, but in this paper both the aspects will be investigated. Fashion brands and retailers have a long-standing relationship with women’s magazines and, more recently, with men’s magazines (Mintel 2005). Fast fashion always need more advertising than the high street fashion market, the only way the can reach out to a mass audience is through media and through word of mouth. It has been estimated that the average woman sees between 400 and 600 adverts per day (Dittrich, 2000).

Looking particularly at this age group who all read magazines and one of the famous magazines is the heat magazine, where this magazine compares the style and clothing of celebrities and give out the cheaper way to gain the look of the celebrities. In today’s star-focused society, it may be more accurate to see celebrities and fashion magazines as a confluence in women’s apparel-buying decision process. (Cottoninc 2000). The fast fashion retailers have to choose the right kind of medium to reach the particular target audience and should help the retailers to reach out to their consumers before their competitors reach. But while the celebrity influence does seem to ebb proportionally as a woman ages, it still plays a large role in the wardrobes of average women. According to the Monitor, 26% of women ages 25 to 34, and 24% of women ages 35 to 55, indicated that celebs served as their personal fashion innovators (cottoninc 2004). This fashion for slimness portrayed throughout almost all women’s fashion advertising provides a standard for social comparison and respectively heightened dissatisfaction amongst females (Graner & Grafinkel, 1980). When confronted with ultra thin models on a regular basis this is bound to have an effect especially when the thin ideal are totally unrealistic of women’s bodies today (Hamburg, 2002). “Celebrities are our new designers,” relates Irenka Jakubiak, editor-in-chief of Accessories Magazine, the trade publication (cottoninc 2004). “The Red Carpet is our new runway. Designers are going overboard to make the product, and manufacturers and retailers are turning stuff around fast to have it available for consumers (cottoninc 2004). In early 2001, approximately one in five marketing programs in the UK featured some type of celebrity endorse, with the number closer to one in four programs in the US (Erdogan et al 2001). Research has found that celebrities are more effective than other types of endorsers, such as “the professional expert”, “the company manger”, or “the typical consumer” (Friedman and Friedman, 1979). Glamour editor Jo Elvin said: “Kate’s back with a vengeance. Her maverick approach to fashion is an inspiration.”(smh 2008)

Advertising also helps to sell new products to the consumers, this way it helps the product to be marketed in the industry quick and efficiently. Advertising also manipulates the consumers using psychology in most of the advertisements. A woman who may not directly point to a celebrity influence in considering her wardrobe is likely to purchase something within a trend that can typically be tied back to a famous person. (Cottoninc 2004). Fighting AIDS is always of great importance, and H&M is overwhelmed with the enthusiasm and the commitment from each and every celebrity involved in this collection.” Ann-Sofie Johansson, H&M head of design. (Onenationmagazine 2009). “Celebrities are the trendsetters of our time. And they are wearing clothing and accessories that are more accessible to the general public (visavismag 2009). In the end, celebrities and modern fashion will always be inseparable commodities, and will continue to influence each other, and in turn the American public. (Helium 2009). Researches suggest that endorsers are more effective where there is a “fit” between the endorsers and the endorsed products. (Till and Busler, 2000). Psychologists Petty and Casioppo suggest the Elaboration Likehood Model (ELM) to explain the process consumers to be persuaded by the advertising message (Shimp, 2003). In a recent report in The Sunday Telegraph, Ashley Sharpe, head of money research at Which? Magazine stated: ‘The danger is that, if the use of a credible celebrity is combined with a message that sounds great but doesn’t tell you the full story, then many more people could be taken in, because they trust the person promoting the product.” (Fashionunited 2004).

2.1 Aim:

To analysis the role of advertising and body image in the context of fashion and manipulation of the consumers.

3.1 Objectives:

  • To analysis the use of advertising in the fashion industry.
  • To analysis the manipulation of consumers through advertisements by the fashion retailers.
  • To analysis the impact of celebrities on fashion and consumers.
  • To analysis the relationship between fashion and body image.

4.1Literature Review:

In today’s world to market a product and to make to reach the target audience on time is done through advertisements, where media is the one of the medium that can reach out to mass target consumers on time and to make the product famous among the consumers. The media’s images and messages become what they see as a soothing voice in a storm of conflict, confrontation and confusion (Thomsen et al, 2001). In aspects to fast fashion the ideology of the retailers should reach the consumers fast, as the fast fashion industry is competitive. The most advanced marketing companies in the country had learned how to adapt their strategies to this new medium and it completely changed their perspectives. (Henry, 1986).

Looking at the fashion market like Top Shop, Next, Marks and Spencer’s, New Look, H&M. tend to spend much more than the other fashion retailer like Zara who does not spend anything of advertising for them marketing their products is through their own customers, where they believe word of mouth is more than enough to promote their products, this only helps to reach out a small group of people where the mass consumers wont be aware of their latest collection in store. On the other than the other retailers spend a lot on advertising and try to reach out a mass group of audience and market their product fast, this also helps to see the demand of the particular garment and helps not to over stock.

The relatively small size of the UK and its heavy population concentrations allow this system to work particularly well in the interest of the marketers. (Henry, 1986). Through advertising most of the retailing companies develop their marketing strategy. Press advertising was the most important medium for 18 of the top 30 fashion retailer advertisers, and seven spent their entire advertising budget here. (Mintel 2005). Advertising is now taking up the upper hand in the fashion industry, which helps the retailers to market their product.

Advertising is mostly done through manipulating the consumers, but the consumer does not like the idea of the retailers manipulating them, this is where psychology advertising comes into place. In this type of advertising is where they use colours, shapes, sounds, etc. The fashion industry works in this way by using adverts that imply by purchasing the brand the consumers will be buying the social esteem and image of model (Anderson et al, 2000). The advertisements are made to catch the consumer’s attention to the product. Although the highest paid super model of the 1900’s were not classed as waifs i.e. Cindy Crawford, designers and magazines chose to use extremely thin models to advertise clothing and beauty products (Gorgan, 1999)

Mark’s and Spencer’s have one of the biggest advertising budgets in the fashion industry. With an estimated £ 43.5 million in 2006/07, making up a 12.0% share in the total (Mintel 2007). After Mark’s and Spencer’s’ Next have spent a lot of advertising their products. There are positive and negative aspects of fashion advertising. The positive aspect helps the retailers to boost their income whilst the consumers get the latest range of copied clothing from designer at a lower price which help them to look fashionable and to keep a track of the latest fashion. Employment opportunities for women are steadily improving, meaning that they have ever greater spending power and economic autonomy. They are the most important consumers of clothing and footwear, buying not only for themselves, but also for their children and male partners. Additionally, they enjoy fashion advertising much more than men and more influenced by it. (Mintel 2007). The negative aspect is the fashion is always related to skinny, thin, flawless skin models, this makes the consumers want to look like them. For the retailers is that fashion is one industry which changes season to season and the clothing line as well changes according to the current trend as fashion changes quickly the retailers tend to spend more on advertising very time a new trend is come into fashion.

The average woman is estimated to see between 400- 600 adverts per day (Dittrich, 2000). One of the main reasons that advertising is used by the fashion retailers is to grab the attention of the consumers. Most of the fast fashion retailers target audience is from the age group 20 – 40 years. Teenagers ages 16-19 are more inclined to use fashion advertising to get inspiration (38% compared to 18% on average) (Mintel 2007). The retailers keeps in mind the age group and make the advertisements which will be liked by the group and catch their attention. The other way the retailers get the attentions from the consumers is by sale and offers which will make a consumer to walk into the store. On the other than magazine also help the fast fashion retailers to sell the garment faster as they compare the celebrities style which a cheaper alternative to gain the same style by the consumers. Fashion and beauty magazine availability is immense in society today (Gordon, 2000). Fashion magazines are a great influence on the women of today where they want to look like the celebrities. This influence the consumers mind of being thin and skinny to gain the style of the celebrities. As the amount of media attention devoted to celebrities increase it’s apparent that celebrities them selves have taken up the position of role models (Weaver 1997).

4.2 Impact of body image:

In today’s world fast paced society relationships and judgments about others start with outward appearance while personality and inner values play a secondary role (Anderson, 2000). Western society is obsessed with body image. Women want to be thinner; men want to be more muscular (BBC, 2009). The feminist perspective suggest that in the 1960’s thinness was equated with independence and success- today it has become the defining criteria for feminine beauty (Kilbourne, 1994). This has become a very important factor among people of today to look good outside, which has a major influence on the daily lifestyle of the person. In any form of interaction or communication verbal cues account for only 7% of total impact, vocals cues for 38%, whilst facial cues account for a major 55% (Mehrabian, 1972). With the face playing a central role in the way we think and feel about both ourselves and others (Partridge, 1996). The world that we live in has move towards to a position which has a big stress on appearance. Preoccupation with the visual image if self and others has become an obsession in a society where people continually compare themselves to cultural ideals of beauty (Coward, 1984).

‘Advertisements for women reflected changing notions of the female body shape away from sever body chart to angular boyish shape’ (p.76, Reekie, 1987).

The ideal human body began way back in time, where it started in ancient Greece. Viewing the body as potentially godlike, it was the Greeks who began the custom of treating the body as an aesthetic object (Seid, 1989). The society of today has experienced a big outburst of interest in the human body like never before. Today’s consumers are very conscious of what they wear and how they look from the out side. Reekie (1978) suggested that one can look to advertisements for women they reflect the changing ideals of body shape. This has happened as a result of a huge influx of visual images of the human body circulated by the mass media (Shilling, 1997). The body beautiful augmented by fashion advertising in particular has helped lay the foundation for our preoccupation with looks and the priority we give to visual appearance. (Coward, 1984). Physical attractiveness is central to human communication as virtually all communication situations involve visual contact and the more physically attractive a person is, the more favourably they are respond to (Patzer, op cit). Other studies consolidate this view and results have indicated that more physically attractive people will have socially exciting and more active lives than less attractive people (Bassili, 1981). Body image is the term widely accepted as internal representation of your own outer appearance: your own unique perception of your body (Thompson et al, 1990). Physical attractiveness trend is a belief that an individual should look good and get better in looking good, which enables physically attractiveness. This enhancement is seen by many as a natural instinct that has been a trait of mankind since ancient times (Fiser and Fiserova). There is a huge money and time spent in cosmetic surgery in today’s world, in order to look like their idols. As in the western society there is an increasing importance in looking good physically. The physically attractiveness phenomenon is deeply entrenched in modern society and there seems no future development likely to reduce it importance (Patzer, 1985). “What is beautiful is good” which was said by Dion et al (1972). When a study was taken by Dion et al found that physically attractive people have more socially attractive personality, they have happier marriages and in a whole their lives are happier and more successfully than the one who are less attractive. When women were asked whether they were willing to sacrifice comfort for fashion, 40% said yes, up 3.7% from 1998. (Cottoninc 2000).

4.3The impact of Ideal body image on consumers:

In today’s consumer’s society where women’s bodies are frequently used to sell products, the ultimate commodity has become the female ideal body image. (Orbach, 1993). Since the 1960’s the ideal body for women bodies has become lighter while real bodies have been getting heavier (Garneret al 1980). This has resulted in a bigger difference between the real and the ideal (Benson,1997). As popular models and actress represent current female ideals it is necessary to examine their depictions in the media (Wiseman et a, 1990). Today a lot of consumers are overwhelmed because of media. The effects that advertisements have on the consumers have changed everything from their fashion to their lifestyle in the society. Circulated as the ‘norm’, notions about the ideal are culturally specific trends that become mistaken for reality (Gorgan, 1999). The concept of an ideal body is given to us by the society of the world of today. The ideal now dictates a slim- hard – toned body (Benson, 1997).

‘this perfect female body would be between five foot five and five foot eight, long legged, tanned and vigours looking’ (p.39 Coward, 1984).

The media has drilled into the minds of people about the ideal body as being thin, tall and looking good to the society. With links to neurobiology, ideals are viewed as in-built responses guiding men and women in how they want to look and how they want others to look (Anderson, 2000). Overweight people are discriminated against in a culture that is unforgiving and judgmental towards fat people (Anderson, 2000). An ideal body for women has to perfect without any flaws. Achieving the ideal body will take time and money, where people are willing to spend these days. There are people in the society will go all the way out to look perfect and get their ideal body shape, even if the person has to go through many cosmetic surgery. In advertising technology has over taken, today every celebrities and super models have their photo shoot airbrushed before come out in magazines. Many of the images seen are artificially constructed using modern photographic techniques and air brushing (Coward, 1984). Although consumers know that these images are modified to look nice, they still opt for cosmetic surgery. Among other proposals are for success rates to be included on cosmetic surgery adverts and for local sports centres to be made more “female friendly” by being cleaner and safer (BBC, 2009). There are many celebrities have gone through many cosmetic surgeries and these consumers think this is the ideal body image and start to admired. Airbrushing should be banned in advertisements aimed at children to tackle “body image pressure”, say the Liberal Democrats. (BBC, 2009). President Douglas McGeorge has said he was particularly concerned about “younger vulnerable readers of magazines who are being targeted very heavily” (BBC, 2009)

Although it is true that women may be entrapped in this system if beauty, the potential to change society and resist cultural pressure is negligible (Bordo, 1997). Smith (1990) believes that women should actively seek to achieve the ideal body in a form of femininity, body dissatisfaction is positive. He also argued that does not take in account the negative consequences of body dissatisfaction, low self-esteem and eating disorders. This also brings in the male to be more dominated and stronger than compared to women, where women are pressured to be thin and weak. The view also ignores the role of the fashion industry, which is said to dictate the ideal (Grogan, 1999). When a study was conducted on teenage boy’s (Huenemann et al, 1966) found that more than half of the response wanted bigger biceps, bigger chest and bigger shoulder. This should that the even male are now getting conscious about their body image and when it is looked back , the media started about in women and then now in men. A recent study says that cosmetic surgery is increasing rapidly in men. It has also been suggested that male dissatisfaction is more pronounced in older men (Anderson, 2000). Although men have different perspective of body image when compared to women. As women are objectified for the active male gaze, they become objects of desire and all emphasis is place on their bodies. (Mulvey, 1980). 36% women seriously consider plastic surgery cause they’re unhappy with the way they look. 90% of women said their bodies made them feel down and they think about it everyday. 50% of school girls say they are on a diet (BBC, 2001). The focus on women’s appearance has got out of hand – no-one really has perfect skin, perfect hair and a perfect figure, but women and young girls increasingly feel that nothing less than perfect will do.(BBC,2009). Body image is a person’s subjective evaluation of what it means to them to have that body within their culture (Grogan, 1999).

4.3 Effect of celebrity advertising on consumers and society:

Tellis, (1998) defined advertising as “communication a firm’s offer to customers by paid media or space”. There is no doubt that advertising is a formative influenced within modern Western culture (Pollay, 1986). According to recent research statistics, the number of celebrity advertisements has doubled in the past ten years. (Brandchannel ,2006).

‘There is now little dispute that the content of commercial television is primarily a vehicle to deliver audiences to advertise to advertisers and that glossy magazines serve that same purpose’ (p.75, Giles, 2003).

Studies show that we are significantly more dissatisfied with our own appearance after being shown TV ads featuring exceptionally slim and beautiful people. (BBC, 2001). The effect that advertising has on the consumers of today is very big impact. Studies have also shown that women who read fashion magazines are more likely to have poor body image and suffer from eating disorders (Harrison and Cantor, 1997). By becoming a reference point against which comparisons are made, fashion adverts can greatly effect men and women’s body esteem (Grogan, 1999). When a survey conducted by Glamour magazine (1984) found that 75% of women taught that they were fat. The advertisement is based on the marketing strategy of the company, when there is a marketing outcome it’s generally changing the behaviour of the consumers. The process are classified as cognitive that are know as consumers attitude (Tellis, 2004). According to Foxall (1998) consumers attitude is recognised as a crucial link between the consumers thinks about the products and advertisements and what they buy in the market place. Aker et al (1994) suggested that the attitude concept is an important factor to advertising Management. The attitude of the consumers in one of the important factor for a company to plan their marketing strategy, and to find out the consumers attitude can be done through advertisements.

‘The distortions are characteristic of anorexia and bulimia are some times literally and concretely evident in fashion advertising’ (p.134, Gordon, 2000).

First, studying the advertising efficiency on market outcome is mainly for accountability (Tellis, 2004). Few advertisements depict mundane levels of attractiveness and instead exclusively star the overwhelming handsome and beautiful (Patzer, 1985). It is such models that become icons and set the ideals to which people try to adhere (Ibanga, 2002). As the fashion industry is said to represent the true ideal of beauty models create the standard to which people are to meet (Winkler, 1994).

‘The task of the advertisers is to favourably dispose viewers to his product, his means, by and large, to show a sparkling version of that product in the context of glamorous events. The implication is that if you buy the one, you are on the way to realizing the other- and you should want to’ (p.26, Goffman, 1979)

Fashion has become a global business since the 1960’s to dress to have success and the power of the brand has become more significant in the past few years. The fashion advertisings has become a very powerful and a multi-pound business, as the brands have become more of a social symbol in the society of today. the survey found that online advertising could extend the reach of an ad by about 10% and increase brand awareness by around 6% (BBC,2003) Fashion plays a very major part of people’s lives. As models become role models, consumers are increasingly growing up with feelings of complete inadequacy attractive people are repeatedly shown in adverts on a daily basis (Body Image, 1998). In fashion adverts directed at both men and women the consumers is seduced, dazzled and offered a visual feast with the central piece, the object of desire being the model (Winkler, 1994). When a study was conducted by Garner (1997) among men and women how fashion models influenced their feelings about their appearance, 27% of women said that the always or more often compared themselves to models in magazines and 28% said that they study the shape of the models.

‘Modelling came to epitomise dominant characteristics of western femininity : the importance of appearance; fetishisation of the body; manipulation and moulding of the body; the discipline and labour associated with ‘beauty’ and body maintenance; the equation of youth with femininity lifestyles’ (p.70 Craik, 1993).

The Advertising Standards Authority said they received only a “small handful” of complaints on the issue. (BBC, 2009) In advertising magazines is one of the most important media to fashion to advertise their product, this results to a heavy use of magazine among the female consumers. The same applies to reading fashion magazines. Experiments show that magazine photographs of super-thin models produce depression, stress, guilt, shame, insecurity and body-dissatisfaction. (BBC, 2001). The volume of content is growing and it is trapping young people in particular, into unhealthy obsessions about their own bodies (BBC, 2008). The fashion industry works in this way by using adverts that imply that by purchasing the brand the consumer will be buying the social esteem and image of model (Anderson, 2000).

‘Thousands and billions of dollars came to ride on the common determination that these women were the most beautiful and fashionable in the world. It was a conspiracy bent on harnessing them to purely commercials needs’ (p.149, Howell, 2000)

President Douglas McGeorge has said he was particularly concerned about “younger vulnerable readers of magazines who are being targeted very heavily” (BBC, 2009). Men and women increasingly get their ideas of what they should look like from the imagery they see in the media (BBC, 2008). Highly attractive models act only to perpetuate such views, lowering satisfaction among viewers. (Grogan, 1999).


1999 1998 +/- pts.
Already Own and Like 52.7% 50.4% -2.3
Store Displays 47.6% 44.3% -3.3
People I See Regularly 36.1% 38.6% +2.5
Catalogs 35.4% 36.3% +0.9
Family Members 23.7% 20.1% -3.6
Commercials/Ads 28.8% 25.6% -3.2
Fashion Magazines 23.2% 31.9% +8.7
Celebrities 10.0% 14.9% +4.9
Salespeople in Stores 12.4% 13.7% +1.3

Looking at the table above shows a clear view of what people look up to in terms of fashion in the year 2000. The highest in the table is the fashion magazines and then come the celebrities. This gives a very clear view that most of the consumers around the world follow the advertisement to get their fashion sense and these day’s it has a big effect on the society and their personality. According to Hall-Duncan (1979) claims that the content of fashion advertisements, its just not about clothes but also about the image that brings out the attitude of the person. Therefore in a sense it is both the cause and effect (Patzer, 1985). Thompson et al claims that a significant number of women and girls are exposed to print media. Fashion and beauty magazine availability is immense in society today (Gordon).

‘…women’s beauty and fashion magazines, which may be among the most influential media formats in perpetuating and reinforcing the socio-cultural preference for thinness and in creating a sense of dissatisfaction with one’s own body’ ( p.49, Harrison and Cantor, 1997).

In the society most of the people are influenced by the advertisements. This influence is not directly applicable to most endorsement advertising because there is very little interaction between the endorser and the consumer in the communication process (Kamins, 1989). Followers of socio-cultural theories have accused women’s magazines of being propaganda for the desirability if the thin ideal (Wolf, 1990).

‘The media’s images and messages become what they see as a soothing voice in a storm of conflict, confrontation and confusion ‘(p.60, Thomsen et al, 2001).

By the first decade of the twentieth century, the fashion models of Paris had already established a standard of extreme thinness (Gordon, 2000). Vogue employee wrote that the figure of the time was straighter with less of a bust and hips, more waist and long lean legs (Steele, 1985). The classic and most widely utilized method is the paid-for media advertisement mostly found in fashion magazines and on television. (Brandchannel, 2006). In receiving messages from parents, peers, mass media and other outlets, young people undergo a process of socialization in which they learn how to be consumers in the marketplace. (Lear et al, 2009). The presence and presentation of celebrity role models in pre-adolescent magazines, as well as details regarding the kinds of activities the celebrity participates in, may powerfully affect how girls view their role in today’s society (Fabrianesi et al , 2008).

4.4 Celebrity’s endorsements:

Any individual who enjoys public recognition and who uses this recognition on behalf of a consumer good by appearing with it in an advertisement (McCracken, 1989). Aaker et al (1997) say’s that “An endorser is a ‘source’ of the information in the advertisements, which plays an important role in persuasive communication”. Celebrity’s endorsements gives out an image that you move a step closer to the idols that the consumers admire by just buying one piece of garment. Celebrity endorsement transfers the personality and status of the celebrity as successful, wealthy, and distinctive directly to the brand. (brandchann

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