Skyy Vodka and the Battle of the Sexes Skyy Vodka has consistently been perhaps the most sexually suggestive advertiser of its genre. Its ads typically contain a thin, young, and beautiful woman in tight clothing with some sort of sexual power over her enticed male counterpart. The ads are not shy to appeal to sex and often promote the sexual benefits of drinking Skyy Vodka. While the advertisement for Skyy Vodka titled “The Antagonist” seen in People magazine’s May 7, 2007 issue adheres to the usual standards of Skyy ads, it has an underlying theme of white, male supremacy and the female threat to that power.
The scene of the ad takes place at night in a sky-rise apartment in some thriving metropolis. In the apartment, the drapes are for now pushed aside while a woman, perhaps in her 20s, stands straddling a man, with an indefinable age, sitting in a 60s-style chair with only his legs and forearm visible. The man holds a martini and the woman holds a drink mixer while seductively looking into the hidden face of the mystery man. The man is wearing a business suit and the woman wears the cliched “little black dress” paired with studded black heels.
Both the male and female are Caucasian. In the left foreground is the picture of the product, a Skyy Vodka bottle sitting next to a martini on a table. The main appeal to sex is made by the body language between the man and the woman, as the man’s legs are in between hers and her posture and leering facial expression scream “seductress. ” Another obvious appeal to sex is the inclusion of the drapes in the upper left-hand corner, implying that they might have to be drawn a bit later. The man’s hidden face is a significant statement to his power.
The missing identity and the fact that he is sitting down in an enveloping chair gives the image of the high-profile boss who is never seen. He is the Charlie and the woman is his “angel,” a subordinate especially as she is serving him a drink. The man’s status is also emphasized by his attire and race. Caucasian males are typically the ones with the most power in society and his clothing only stresses his wealth and position. Aside from the action and setting of the advertisement, the colors in the ad stress the themes of sex and dominance.
The color palette for this ad includes mainly black, gray, white, and dark blue. Together they present a sleek, almost professional tone yet cold and impersonal, lacking any passion. They present an atmosphere devoid of any love and as this is a sexually explicit ad, the colors help to devalue sex to a casual, cold level. The deep presence of blues and cool colors not only reinforces the look of the actual Skyy Vodka bottle but also plays a stark contrast to the tone of the woman’s skin. She stands out amongst the dark colors, being the only warm color source of the photo.
This technique is used to focus the viewer’s attention on the woman and the blatant sexual appeal there. As the rest of the colors imply a professional tone, it can be seen that this photograph is about a competition for dominance between the male and female, even that of sexual dominance. As the woman towers over the man, she plays into the stereotypical male fantasy of being sexually dominated. She has the glaring look of a dominatrix and instead of the whip her tool is alcohol, which she serves to the man to make him vulnerable and susceptible to her sexual power.
As the target audience of this advertisement is young men, the sexual fantasy succeeds at attracting its desired attention. The recurring genital shapes throughout the ad also play a huge part in establishing the conflict of dominance between the man and woman. Throughout the ad are repeated shapes of triangles and rectangles, representing female and male genitalia respectively. Both the man and woman have some form of a drink in hand, each of which is shaped in opposite gender’s symbol.
This shows that both the man and woman think they have some sort of sexual hold on one another. For this scene, while the woman may have a hold on the man’s power, the man has a hold on her dignity as the double standard for women and sex sadly prolongs in society. The many other triangular shapes formed by the woman’s stance with the chair and parts of her dress and shoes compete with the male influenced high-rise buildings displayed outside. The buildings’ presence makes the statement that it’s a man’s world.
To acquire any type of power, a female, according to this ad, has to resort to private and perhaps sexual meetings but most likely will still go unacknowledged by greater society; after all, buildings have continued to be shaped as rectangles and not pyramids. For wanting to become dominant, the female is labeled “The Antagonist” and seen as the enemy of man. She is coercive, manipulative, and driven, which is why she is seen as such a big threat to the typical white male in power. This competition factor is also seen by the product placement as the male-shaped bottle stands side by side with the female-shaped martini.
As these two characters compete for dominance, the ad suggests that women are not only the enemy, but will use casual and impersonal sex to achieve this desired power, along with alcohol as the woman is not drinking. The ad titled “The Antagonist” by Skyy Vodka is ultimately a depiction of the battle of the sexes for supremacy. Though at first glance, the woman is depicted as the inferior while she caters to the man, and is also quite devalued as a person wearing revealing clothing, there is an underlying competition between the man and woman, emphasized by the colors and symbols.
The woman uses sex and alcohol to weaken the man, attempting to gain some dominance in the man’s world seen through the window. Yet from the ad’s title, it is seen that the actions of the female are “antagonistic. ” The woman is criticized for her techniques at achieving power yet the male is not criticized for objectifying women or using them to fulfill sexual fantasies. While an advertisement for Skyy Vodka, this ad presents the world of a successful, white male and warns him against the young seductress, desperate for power.