The early 80’s: A different kind of Sexvertisements

After I showed you how sexual advertisements have become over the last few years it is time to show you how it was done back in the 80’s all began. Back in the good old times there is not much nudity or even direct interaction between man and woman. So why do I write about it in this blog? Well, lets just say the advertisers 30 years ago knew how to create sexual tension by just leading our fantasy a bit.

An excellent example for that are the Paco Rabanne print ads from the early 1980s. In these ads a man was displayed being on the phone and the telephone conversation was displayed on the next page, so that you always wanted to know: What happened?


The dialogue between caller and the man in the bed was as follows:

Is this the man with the secret tattoo?
Now that you know about it, it’s not a secret anymore, is it? 
Your tattoo is safe with me. Were you able to get a taxi ?
I walked home. 
And how was Paris while all the sensible folk were still in bed?
It was grey and drizzling and bloody marvelous. I kept making up poems with your name in them. Also a love song that, for rhyming reasons, ended up being all about your right elbow. I don’t think my feet touched the ground once all the way home
I meant to tell you. I love the way you smell. Most men’s colognes make them smell like they take themselves too seriously.
I thank you. My Paco Rabanne cologne thanks you. My mother thanks you.
Your mother would never approve of what you and your Paco Rabanne do to me so let’s leave her out of this. Am I going to see your tattoo again tonight?
That’s up to you, Isn’t it? 


The other ads of that campaign used similar images with adjusted texts:


First ad of the campaign in 1980


Ad from 1988

The scenes could play anywhere, be it in Paris, in New York or as in the last one on a little boat in the ocean. While only looking at the picture they all seem to be very innocent, however, when reading the dialogue on the next page the whole ad becomes a completely new meaning. And let’s be honest isn’t it nice that photographers and advertisers didn’t take away all of our imagination and fantasy so that we could make up our own little stories?


By Maria Freundlieb

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