08/19/2014 09:56 am ET

What Sells Better: Sexy Or Empowered?

David Sacks via Getty Images

Consider two advertising campaigns for women’s clothing: In one, a world-famous ballerina spins, jumps and stands tall on point, displaying her perfectly sculpted, athletic body; in the other, a faceless model — or rather, her derrière — bends over a car door in a short, very revealing school-uniform-type skirt.

Both campaigns, from, respectively, the sports-attire company Under Armour and the hipster retailer American Apparel, caused a stir in recent weeks — but for entirely different reasons. The Under Armour video became an online viral sensation as an inspirational example of conquering body image issues, and the American Apparel campaign incited controversy for its Lolita-esque character, displaying sexualized images of women styled to look like teenagers.

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