The Naked Truth of Advertising

Lauren’s blog post of a couple of weeks ago, the one about billboards, inspired me to share this with you all.  I think I have one to add to your collection Lauren.

Galeries Lafayette Ad, Paris Metro Station. Translation: Summer, live stronger.  (underneath: Bathing suit floor)

The translation of this is difficult, directly translated the text along the top is ‘Summer, live stronger’, but in french (perhaps in english too) it’s a phrase which evokes more meaning than the words imply. When I asked my partner to decipher this for me he said something along the lines of: it being summer, the sun, the heat (oh I see, it’s hot, maybe that’s why she took her bathing suit off), taking more risks, living dangerously, having confidence in yourself (to lie naked on a diving board??)…

I lived in Paris for five years, and every summer without fail Galeries Lafayette the biggest department store in France (think a David Jone equivalent) would use this image to advertise their ‘bathing suit floor’ – yes that is an entire floor dedicated to bikinis. Every single year it left me gob-smacked. I’d gotten used to the scantily clad women in the underwear ads posted all over the city, the Aubade ones are particularly famous:


Aubade Lingere ad, France. Translation: Lesson 57: Distract your opponent


At least they are advertising underwear (and still have it on) and not something completely unrelated. But the bikini one just knocked me out time and time again (I know it is in fact advertising bikinis, but come on!). These ads are plastered up in every subway station, then there’s the 50 foot version draped from the top of the store. I had many a conversation with French friends who think I’m hilarious and couldn’t understand why I got so worked up about it, they would roll their eyes and laugh, the odd one would even get defensive and go on about freedom of speech and censorship. And I would tell them how these ads would never see the light of day back home in Australia, and they would tell me that we are prudish and boring…and it would go on. Aside from the objectifying women issue, at the end of the day I questioned whether the bikini ad (obviously marketed at women) would actually make a woman want to buy a bikini there? Disturbingly, they’ve been using the same campaign for the last five years, so I suppose it must.

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1 Response to The Naked Truth of Advertising

  1. There was a similar – and enormous – Aubade poster displayed in a window at a shop at Crown Casino in 2003; easily visible from the street. Not much difference to your own in fact – same arse shot, etc. That the poster was technically inside a store presumably got it around the hokey self-regulators! 😉


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