Saturday, October 27, 2007

Diddy vs. Mariah: Battle for the sexiest fragrance spot

With celebrity fascination at an all-time high, it is no wonder that celebs capitalize on their fame in the form of fashion, cosmetics and perfume licensing deals. Celebrity fragrances, in particular, are on the rise with more than 30 scents launched last year, according to Marketing’s Jemima Bokaie.

This fall, sex was used to position two new celebrity fragrances: Sean “Diddy” Combs’ “Unforgivable Woman” and “M” by Mariah Carey. Although commercials for both feature a great deal of nudity, one has sparked debate.

Diddy’s three-minute “movie-let” was rejected by U.S. standards boards. The spot shows Combs and a supermodel at a New York hotel engaging in various sexual behavior. Combs is clothed, however, while the model proceeds to bare (almost) all. Combs defended his work by saying that although “some people may be uncomfortable with the sensuality and sexual content… it is important for them to make that decision personally,” and not have it made for them by executives. The commercial did air in the U.K. in its original form.

Mariah Carey’s commercial has thus far avoided controversy. The spot shows a nude Mariah immersed in the water as she sings and touches herself. She is the only person in the 30-second spot, and she appears to be promoting a sense of beauty and sensuality. Although there are some scandalously bare shots of the diva’s breasts, no one has reacted publicly to the degree of Diddy’s commercial.

Why has one approach created a stir while the other has remained under the radar? Diddy’s use of sex and nudity positions women and his fragrance with an edgy, somewhat dangerous feel that borders on obsession and objectification. On the other hand, Mariah’s use of nudity, although still risqué, positions her fragrance as a source of beauty. Commenting on the two promotion strategies, Mariah says that her approach “is about being unforgettable, not unforgivable. It’s not about a ménage trios or a one night stand, it’s for the woman who wants the man to fall in love with her immediately, stay in love, and treat her like royalty.”

Combs’ spot does appear to involve a one-time tryst, or at least one man’s infatuation with a women’s body.

--Posted by Michelle Weidner

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

How much sex in network television commercials?

A recent analysis revealed that 17% of prime-time commercials airing on the five major U.S. networks contained some form of sexual information (images/words). However, sex was the primary theme only in a little over 9% of the spots. The analysis consisted of one week (M-F) during the prime-time time slot (8-11 PM, EST) in May 2007.

Over 2,400 commercials were coded for the presence and nature of sexual content. Network promos, which often contain a higher proportion of sexual information, were not included in the sample.

Of the five major networks, the CW network, with a healthy lineup of teen-oriented programming, contained the highest proportion of sex-primary commercials. For example, 15% of commercials on CW contained sexual themes compared to 12% on NBC, 11% on ABC, 10% on Fox, and 7% on CBS. Coders employed standard measures of sexual content used in previous analyses.

Overall, the findings provide an accurate snapshot of the prevalence and nature of sexual content in network TV advertising.

Armani beefcake too much for male UGA student

At least one student at the University of Georgia was offended by a risqué Armani underwear insert appearing in the campus newspaper, The Red & Black. The insert, which shows an Adonis—tanned, chiseled and trim—in a pair of bikini briefs, prompted a male student to write a letter to the editor.

“Not only did this ad embarrass me,” he said, “but it made me…very self-conscious of my own appearance in my underwear.” Obviously, the student was aware of the social comparison effects that many people experience when viewing images of scantily clad models, the vast majority of which are women. He even commented that his experience was probably similar females who are exposed to “skinny, big-breasted models in their lingerie ads.”

Is this beefcake ad truly surprising? The ad uses common techniques such as nudity and physical attractiveness to grab the audience’s attention. This type of sex in advertising has been used for decades, and proven very successful for several marketers. In addition, this approach is not exclusive to female models, either. Calvin Klein, for example, made a big impact in the 1980s with underwear-clad male models. 2(x)ist has done the same.

So, what about this Armani ad prompted a letter to the editor? Are men becoming more sensitive to imagery in ads now that they are becoming the objects of the “gaze,” or do sexy ads cross the line when entering educational settings? Only time and research will tell; but until then, as this gentleman says, “University men….do not be ashamed, wear your skivvies with pride, regardless of how your lower belly hangs over your elastic waistband.”

--Posted by Michelle Weidner