Vulgar Advertising? Dolce and Gabbana approved

Dolce and Gabbana's controversial 'gang rape' ad (2007)
Dolce and Gabbana’s controversial ‘gang rape’ ad (2007)

Dolce & Gabbana’s advertisements have commonly attracted consumers using marketing techniques such as shock advertising. For example, the use of sex appeal and controversial topics offends audiences and creates attention to the ad. The ad above reinforces this idea.

The image demonstrates a woman being held against her will, being helplessly positioned into an unwanted scenario, surrounded by three other men. She wears a bathing suit, heels and bright red lipstick, reflecting sexual appeal and desire for the males with her alienated expression. When thinking of what is really signifies, the advertisement simply outlines males dominance and power gained when wearing the brands products. It can be considered to be very offensive towards women as it reflects society; with women being inferior and forever overpowered by men.  Thus, it brings debate of its evoke on gang rape and promote of violence against women. This brought public outrage causing advert bans and protests all over the world.

Meanwhile,  Stefano Gabbana says that he regrets the way the ad was perceived and insists that he and his partner Domenico Dolce were not intending to demean women. He adds that the image is artistic and was meant to “recall an erotic dream, a sexual game.” [1]

This begs the question, is an erotic dream considered to be a wanted fantasy? Rather than something terribly disturbing? Is that what the makers were trying to reflect? As adverts should be memorable to bring popularity, the ad is memorable for all the wrong reasons, however, it still proves to be effective.

Over the years, D&G and other high fashion brands have released provocative images that have brought media attention. Therefore reflecting the marketing techniques of the industry to appeal to audiences with shocking violation of social norms and memorable aspects. However, as controversy evolves, its popularity increases, thus the company basically ‘gets away with it’. Why do prestigious brands like D&G release sexual degrading images but still be a popular, high demanding brand with consumers?

Similar advert with a twist? Roles switched. How come there is little controversy with this image?
Similar advert with a twist? Roles switched. How come there is little controversy with this image?



1. Sweet. L, 24/3/07, ‘Menacing or Marketing? D&G’s Controversial Ad’ in If it’s hip, its here. visited 10/4/14.

2. AFP, 2007, ‘Gang Rape Dolce and Gabbana advert banned’  in National visited 10/4/14.

3. Anderson. H Charlotte, 22/4/10, ‘Dolce & Gabbana says Women like it rough’ in Huffpost. visited 10/4/14

Images: visited 10/4/14 visited 10/4/14


2 thoughts on “Vulgar Advertising? Dolce and Gabbana approved

  1. Interesting blog post to read. I was contemplating choosing this for my controversial image. This advertisement was brought up in another subject I was doing. To me, I didn’t realise all the negative connotations at first. But when you really start to look at an advertisement it can make you a lot more aware.

  2. Interesting point about D&G intensionally creating an ad they knew would spark controversy for publicity. I had never really thought of it that way, and how the switched gender role version sparked so little, well done!!

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