The Seducer (Archetypes #12)

Jan 17 2013

“I’m pretty, but I’m not beautiful. I sin, but I’m not the devil. I’m good, but I’m not an angel.”  – Marilyn Monroe

“It is not enough to conquer. One must also know how to seduce.”  – Voltaire

“Beauty is the greatest seducer of man.”  – Paulo Coelho

One of my favourite films of all time is Some Like It Hot, at the centre of which Tony Curtis tries to seduce Marilyn Monroe, while she appears charmingly innocent and everyone else falls in love with her too. [Her character also appears in Insignificance with Albert Einstein, the Guru, and you can read more about that here.]

Marilyn Monroe was and continues to be an archetypal seductress and icon for feminine sexuality. Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jean Mortenson in 1926, dying as Marilyn Monroe in 1962 after a very successful career in movies. She spent much of her life in foster homes, started as a model, eventually managing toget a film contract and using her ‘dumb blonde’ persona and seductiveness to great effect. Some Like It Hot was made at the height of her powers in 1959, not long after The Prince and the Showgirl for which she received more than one film award (and was the subject of the 2011 film My Week With Marilyn).

The end of her life was marked by illness, personal problems and a notoriety which is the subject of My Week With Marilyn (she was unreliable, often late, difficult to work with). Her death was classified as a ‘probable suicide’, although may have been due to an accidental overdose or something more sinister (and is still the subject of conspiracy theories). She has been a cultural icon and sex symbol ever since.

The Seducer is the perfect archetype for many categories and is commonly used in fragrance, cosmetics, fashion, indulgence food, travel and others. It’s no secret (and won’t be a surprise) that Victoria’s Secret follows the Seducer archetype, emphasising femininity, beauty, experience and, above all, sexuality.

As with all the archetypes, the Seducer comes in a number of guises, including Lover, Partner, Friend, Intimate, Enthusiast, Sensualist, Spouse, Team builder, Aesthete, Bon vivant, Hedonist, Matchmaker, Connoisseur and Harmonizer. Although primarily focused on building relationships and enjoying romance, the Seducer can also be about aesthetic appreciation (including food and drink). Beauty matters, whether it be nature, restaurant, a pair of shoes or the right man or woman.

There are many famous seducers. Rati is the Hindu goddess of love, carnal desire, lust, passion and sexual pleasure, and the female counterpart and consort of Kama, the god of love. She is his constant companion, renowned for her beauty and sexuality, with the power to enchant. She is associated with the excitement and delight of sexual activity, and has given her name to many techniques and positions from her Sanskrit names.

Similarly, Aphrodite was the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure and procreation, called Venus in Roman mythology, who arose from the sea foam which came up when Cronos cut off Uranus’s genitals and threw them into the sea! The other gods were fearful of her beauty, concerned that rivalry over her would lead to the break down of good relations among the gods, so Zeus married her to the ugliest of the gods.

The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli

Venus and Adonis by Titian

Giacomo Casanova is one of the most famous male seducers, an Italian adventurer and writer, who lived and played out many of his exploits in Venice.

Seducers are passionate, sensual, seductive, erotic, affectionate, committed. loving, appreciative and always grateful for the love they receive. They spend all their time seeking true love and pleasure, following their emotions and valuing loving and intimate relationships. Titanic, Romeo and Juliet (the ‘star crossed’ lovers), Casablanca and Love Story are just four of the classic Seducer stories and films, and Leonardo di Caprio is definitely a seducer for many (appearing in two of them).

Seducers are driven by the urge to give and receive love, and their motto, “I only have eyes for you”, speaks to their passionate commitment. Cinderella is one of the classic love stories, although the original fairy tale is a little more gruesome than the Disney-fied version. In the original, Cinderella’s sisters are willing to cut their toes and feet to fit into the glass slipper, in their desperation. Is this so extreme, when you consider the increasing numbers of people across Asia who are using plastic surgery to make themselves look more beautiful or handsome (not forgetting botox and skin whitening creams)?

The desire for intimacy and experience can lead Seducers into promiscuity and behaviour which is all about pleasing others, losing their own identity in the process. However, this desire can help them build a relationship with people, work and environments, surrounded by all the things they love. Their greatest fear is to be alone, and to be unwanted and unloved, and for this they are always striving to be more and more attractive, especially physically attractive.

The Seducer helps people give and receive love as well as helping them to belong and to find friends and partners and have a good time. This archetype is perfect for an organisation which is free-wheeling and fun-loving, and is a good way to differentiate yourself from a self-important or over-confident brand. The Seducer is a good way to create a gender specific identity too (beautiful woman or confident man). For example, Revlon has used the tagline “Feel like a woman” and others to great effect.

Häagen-Dazs is a seducer which focuses on sensual indulgence to great effect.

Godiva also use the language of love, seduction and sensual pleasure across all their advertising.

Here’s another seductive ad from a very different category.

Seduction starts with an infatuation, when you fall in love with a person, an idea, a cause, your work or even a product, which then leads you to the enjoyment of romance (or even to great sex if you are lucky). However, this is only the most basic and superficial level of the Seducer, who can go on to build commitment and longer-lasting relationship with the person (or thing) that they love, ultimately developing into a more spiritual form of love combined with greater self-acceptance, and even sometimes the experience of ecstasy, as long as difficulties in the relationship don’t lead to obsession, jealousy, envy and all the other bad sides of love and commitment.

If you can help your customer to feel the power of love, the commitment of relationship or the enjoyment of a complete sensual experience, then the Seducer could be the archetype for you.


The Hero and the Outlaw by Margaret Mark & Carol Pearson

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