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Perspective: Hey, Sailor

January 10, 2013

It was Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart who, in 1964, famously said that while he couldn’t define pornography, he knew it when he saw it. Potter’s oft-quoted analysis bears mentioning because it also applies to the advertising world. Among the most effective ads are that rare sort that can say different things to different consumers even though everybody’s looking at the same picture. Put another way, the impact of an image becomes a matter of what the person looking at the ad brings to it.

One of the best examples of this marketing alchemy appears here in his full, fleshy splendor: the sailor boy.

He’s been with us for a long time now, sporting a blend of bravado, masculinity, power and sex appeal that, as these examples show, are potent en

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