Sexy or sexist? Penélope Cruz’s provocative new ad

Penélope Cruz isn’t one to pull back from being provocative. The Spanish-born actress who became the first native of her country to win an Academy Award for her role in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, has just directed her second television advertisement for Agent Provocateur lingerie. Like the first commercial she wrote and directed for Agent Provocateur, the cast is a bevy of scantily clad women and a lusting man who play to an interesting storyline. Only this time Ms Cruz has gone one step further.

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To my mind the advert starts edging into dubious territory. Yes, this is an advert about lingerie. It is beautifully shot, and directed in a rather tongue-in-cheek style by a lauded female actress (cum director). But is this commercial, resplendent in rollicking rump and bouncing breasts, merely racy – or does it foster stereotypical attitudes and engender sexism toward women?

The first person I sought counsel from was my wife. She looked at the advert, smiled as she did and told me I was being a little over-sensitive. “We’re living in an age where everyone is being overly politically correct,” she told me. “This ad is shot by a woman with a great sense of humour. Yes there’s a lot of flesh shown in the ad, but at the end of this mini-movie it is the man who comes out of it all a little worse for wear.”

The advert shows a red Cadillac, driven by La Cruz, touring through the desert. Inside, with Cruz, the car is packed with your ‘average’ Agent Provocateur type women. You know what I mean – all bright-eyed and with flawless figures.

The women look into the distance, where they see a man crawling through the desert. He’s dry and caked with desert sand. He looks up. He sees the car and what’s inside the car. Encouraged by Cruz, the females disembark and start taking off their clothes to reveal barely-there Agent Provocateur underwear.

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The music builds to a techno beat, and the squad starts stretching and caressing themselves – then they do squats, start skipping rope, jumping and dancing provocatively so that their natural assets jiggle as much as possible. All the while the man on the ground is mesmerised, as he starts crawling closer and closer to this jaw-dropping vision.

Hips swaying, legs flexing, he eventually reaches them and starts looking up at them. They take out bottles of water and start pouring it over themselves. Let me evade the spoiler alert, and say I’m not going to tell you how it ends. Take a look and see for yourself.

“Come on Oresti. If we start pushing back on ads like this we’re going to end up in a nanny state where you can’t do or say anything without being chastised,” my wife told me after seeing the ad and hearing my objections. “Besides, I think the advert is fun, does the job of promoting a certain kind of lingerie and is extremely well made. What’s the problem?” she asked. My wife, Christina, also wanted to know who the advert was aimed at – but I couldn’t tell her with any degree of certainty.

Wanting another opinion I asked a female friend who is an accountant, and she too really enjoyed the advert and said she found nothing problematic with it.

So tell me – is it just me? Is Cruz’s new ad fun and flirty, or sexist and exploitative. You tell me. And while you’re about it let me know who you think Cruz and Agent Provocateur are aiming the ad at.

Watch the ad here:

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