Exploitation of innocence vs strategic marketing.


Movie star and young role model, Dekota Fanning , 17, modelling for Marc Jacobs’ ‘oh Lola!’ perfume in 2011.

Does this image really display controversial connotations? According to various UK media outlets, this image of the world renowned star Dekota fanning, 17 at the time, was much too sexually provocative, so much so that it was banned from being played on many TV networks and displayed in various magazines. Critics believed that the campaign was over-sexualising young girls. Would buying and wearing this perfume really make teens seem to be sexually promiscuous? Or want to be? Fanning defends herself and Marc Jacobs by saying it was a photo shoot of innocence.

Many would argue that this image/ad is in fact innocent and merely an image of a celebrity (who is of age) endorsing a luxury product for good marketing techniques…

Fanning poses with a large “vase shaped” oh Lola! Bottle of perfume between her thighs wearing a short pink dress—a colour often associated with purity. Coincidence or intentional? Many critics argued that Jacobs was abusing Fanning’s youth and innocence to portray a sexualised media advertisement in order to convey the attention of his target audience, and at first glance I can see where these people are coming from. Watch this online discussion about the campaign here and form your own opinion! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSltPSxD-Bc

The sexual connotations from this media campaign resulted in the ad being banned across the UK- perhaps parents didn’t want their teens to aspire to be sexually promiscuous like their idols appear to encourage. But isn’t it just an actress holding a perfume bottle after all?

It may have been apart of Jacobs marketing technique to create a sexy but innocent campaign in order to not only grab the attention of young girls through the use of celebrity endorsement, but also to create a bit of a ‘stir’ in the media which further promotes his product. He claims to have wanted to create the ‘Modern Lolita’. Perhaps an older celebrity may have kept the media from sensationalising and ultimately sexualising the image. Have a read of this interesting article which discusses the connotations of the campaign→ http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2059097/Dakota-Fannings-sexually-provocative-perfume-ad-banned.html

Are we taking it too far?  Or do you believe this image is sexualising children? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.


Sean Poulter. 2011. Dekota Fanning’s ‘Lolita’ ad for Marc Jacobs is banned for ‘sexualising children’. [ONLINE] Available at: <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2059097/Dakota-Fannings-sexually-provocative-perfume-ad-banned.html&gt; [Accessed 23 March 14].


3 thoughts on “Exploitation of innocence vs strategic marketing.

  1. Really insightful blog!
    I have never seen this image before, but after your reading your blog I can definitely see how this image can be seen as inappropriate where as if I has seen it in a magazine this idea may not have clicked.
    Although, I think banning the image from the UK was a bit rough. I have definitely seen worse promotions that really blur the lines and they don’t seem to be banned.
    She was also 17, barely a ‘child’. I guess the media will be the media though.

  2. Also, the fact that we are still talking about this images means the marketer has done there job: controversy or no controversy, the marketer has succeeded in getting their product publicised.

  3. Awesome read! After watching the above video clip I can definitely understand where people who claim it’s “sexualising children” are coming from. There are definitely other ways to advertise perfume, however I do believe banning the ad was pretty far fetched. I mean, if Fanning didn’t have a problem with being the one exposed in this so called “inappropriate” ad, then why should anyone else care? There’s definitely worse out there. Honestly, I think people need to get used to the idea that this is the way advertising works in the 21st Century.

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