Wednesday, 1 October 2008


That got your attention right?

Now, I have mixed feelings about Ann Summers.
On the one hand, I think it's great that we have a mainstream, high street sex shop chain in this country. I think sex is nothing to be ashamed of and people should be free to exercise their personal desires without fear of censure, so long as it's with consenting adults, they're not forcing their choices on anyone else and no one gets seriously or permanently hurt. I've made purchases there, for myself and other people, and have been more than happy with the results.

But on the other hand, I find a lot of what they sell tacky, badly made, cheap, nasty and not worth the money. If you're going to buy sex accessories, you need to be sure you're getting quality merchandise and with our society's collective squeamishness about sex, it's not always easy to complain about the quality of a product. And in some cases, it's obviously pretty impossible to return it. Second hand vibrator anyone? Thought not.

One of my other other problems with Ann Summers is the tone of the sales pitch on their website. It's all so knowing, but still incredibly euphemistic. This is not an exact quote, but a paraphrase "Wear this sexy little number and you'll have him asking for more and more..." More and more what? Coffee? Come on people, let's not be squeamish, we're talking about sex. Sex. SEX. SEX. The coy nature of the site still seems to indicate that sex is something to be vaguely shy of and ashamed about. Even Ann Summers can't call a spade a spade.

And quite frankly, some of the merchandise bemuses me. I maybe fortunate enough to be blessed with a graphic imagination and overly inquiring mind, but if you need a board game to have interesting and fulfilling sex, then I have to say, "ur doin it rong."

But when it comes down it, where they have really lost me is with these.

I mean Double-you-tee-eff indeed.

I don't care if they are re-usable, I've already got some!


TheTelf said...

"Even Ann Summers can't call a spade a spade."

I'm pretty sure they can and will if you go and talk to them in person, asking particular questions. However, given "our society's collective squeamishness about sex" would it actually be good marketing for them to be less euphemistic? Or would that kind of forwardness drive away people who otherwise might have been tempted to spend money there?

Advertising (and that's what it is on Ann Summers' site) is generally not a directed mechanism for social change. If you want to see more open attitudes to sex, look to a pressure group or somesuch. Don't necessarily look to someone trying to make money from a society to try to change it too. It's not necessarily in their interests.

The Big LeBamski said...

I wholeheartedly agree with Telf here. Also, from a purely advertising point of view, would a product be more enticing if Ann Summers told the buyer exactly what it does/they can do with it, or is it entirely more attractive as a product if the nitty gritty of the product (for want of a better phrase) is left to the consumer's imagination. Sex sells, but only if it is implicitly suggested rather than explicitly, and I see no reason why selling sex toys should be any different.

Hanspan said...

While I fully understand that the purpose of the Ann Summers site is not to cater to my personal whims and they have to attract a broad customer base, the fact is that I have been dissuaded from buying their products in the past because a) they've dressed it up in so much euphemism I'd feel an idiot for buying it and b) said euphemism has actually obscured what the product in question is supposed to do...

I mean, I have no clue how you would use this and beyond telling me the thing is a cock ring in one of its possible guises, the site doesn't explain. I mean, a diagram would be helpful... maybe I'm just too innocent to work it out?

And while it may come with full instructions, as I said to Patrick when we talked about this the other day, I'm not going to buy a sex toy and just *hope* this is the case. In my, admittedly limited, experience, they tend not to though. I'd be far more likely to buy a product if I knew what the hell you were supposed to put where once you unwrapped it. Yes, there's fun to be had in finding out, but if you're a woman, there's also the risk of rather a lot of pain if you get it wrong.

As for the marketability of sex, I don't disagree with that, I'm just saying that in this case, someone with my attitude to sex is clearly not their target audience. I'm not saying that's hugely important, mind, most of the post was by way of building up to "why the fuck would ANYONE buy a pair of fake nipples to insert under their t-shirt?"

TheTelf said...

I guess the point is that they feel that they would lose more business from people not so open about these kinds of things by explicitly explaining them, than they would gain from the open-but-unwilling-to-buy-without-prior-instructions market segment that you represent.

"if you're a woman, there's also the risk of rather a lot of pain if you get it wrong" - yeah, 'cos men are built out of steel down there. There's certainly no way to accidentally cause men serious amounts of pain through a mistake in the groin region. :s

And some people find the sight of a nippular bulge through a t-shirt quite appealing, clearly. If you wanted to attract that kind of attention, but found your own, uh, equipment, wasn't up to it, perhaps you'd want to invest in a little silicon help?

Hanspan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hanspan said...

Quite possibly. Doesn't mean I can't complain about it though ;P

"if you're a woman, there's also the risk of rather a lot of pain if you get it wrong" - yeah, 'cos men are built out of steel down there. There's certainly no way to accidentally cause men serious amounts of pain through a mistake in the groin region. :s

Dude, I never said that. But the thing is, by their nature vibrators tend not to have as much give as penises. If you stick them in at even slightly the wrong angle, it can hurt a lot. And from what I know, it's the woman who is in pain when the man gets the angle of his dick wrong. I'm not saying that sex is never painful for men, I was just trying to say that if you and a woman are ever experimenting with a vibrator designed for her pleasure and trying to find out which way round it goes, for god's sake, take it easy until you've worked it out. Because just holding a toy and thrusting it into someone else isn't going to cause you much pain in the groin unless she kicks you there if you get it wrong.

As for the nipples, the supposed attractiveness thereof, again it's subjective. Personally, I just think it's pretty crazy world in which you can buy a permanently erect pair of nipples. Maybe I'm wrong, but I'd be interested in their sales figures for that particular product. I reckon guys wouldn't be falling over themselves to buy a permanently erect cock to stuff down their trousers to show their arousal. Because, hey, that would be weird and pervy, for a male to actively show their up for sex.

When women do it, it's cute and sexy, hey their nipples are erect. When men do it, OMGZ they're like so weird/a rapist, gethimawayfromme!