Monday, February 25, 2008

Sexiest ads of the Oscars

Red carpet. Gorgeous celebrities. Skimpy gowns. The Academy Awards presentation showcases the glitz and glamour of our entertainment industry. As the second leading TV event of the year, it’s intriguing to see which advertisers—if any at all—use sexual appeals to speak to the 40 million or so (mostly females) who tune in to the event.

Not to be disappointed, sexual content was present among the three big “C” advertisers (cars, cosmetics, and clothing). Unlike the Super Bowl, however, there were no babes in bikinis or disrobing Danica Patrick in the lineup. Sexual content was subtle and obtuse. When targeting women, sexual appeals are more apt to emphasize benefits such as enhancing one’s attractiveness or self esteem. The top four ads containing sexual content were no exception.

4. L’Oreal. Just about any L’Oreal commercial aired last night qualifies. Again, while not overtly sexual, physical attractiveness can be an important component of sexual content. These spots featured sex symbols such as Heather Locklear, Eva Longoria, and Andie MacDowell extolling the benefits of looking beautiful (with a little help from L’Oreal).

3. JC Penney’s “American Living” brand. At least five spots served to introduce Penney’s new Ralph Lauren line. These slice-of-life ads, meant to reflect “Americana,” included some embraces and deep stares, and a young interracial couple. On the creepy side, one spot set in the forest featured a few kids on a bed.

2. Cadillac CTS. We’ve referred to this spot in a previous post. The ad—airing for a few months—features "Grey’s Anatomy’s" Kate Walsh purring: “When you turn your car on, does it return the favor?” As noted, it received a favorable rating from Ad Age’s Ad Review and Bob Garfield; one of the few examples of sex in advertising he’s liked.

1. "Dancing with the Stars” promos. The network promos speak for themselves; as they promise a “steamier” and “sexier” season than before. Not to disappoint, one of the two promos aired a few seconds of provocative dance moves. A clear example of “truth-in-advertising.”

Although we’re stretching it a bit, honorable mentions go to attractive models demonstrating the utility of Crest White Strips and a few dance moves in a JELLO swirls spot.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Sexiest ads of the Oscars

Stay-tuned for our ranking of the sexiest ads of the "Super Bowl for women." Sunday's telecast of the Academy Awards typically represents the second largest television event of the season. Last year approximately 40 million tuned in (60% women) which is a "mega" turnout in today's fragmented media world.

According to Ad Age's Brian Steinberg, this year's advertisers include: Coca-Cola, P&G, American Express, Unilever, JC Penney, L'Oreal, Mars, McDonalds, Mastercard, GMC, and Walt Disney. Noticeably absent are this year's scintillating Super Bowl advertisers such as Given the high composition of females watching the telecast, sexual appeals will not be as brazen or potentially offensive as programming with a high male audience.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Want to photograph SI swimsuit models?

Now you can. Grab your camera and photograph Daniella Sarahyba at one of several beach locations: Governor's Beach, Rum Point, or Smith's Cove. "Are you the new photographer?" she asks.

Taco Bell created the tie-in with Sports Illustrated to coincide with the massively popular 2008 Swimsuit edition. According to Marketing Vox, the being promoted with online ads at,, and sites popular with male audiences, as well as in-store promotions at Taco Bell.

Visitors use their mouse to take pictures of Sarahyba, which they can download or send to friends. Adrants notes that the campaign was created by DraftFCB, Orange County.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Playboy's sexiest commercials of all time

In its February 2008 issue, Playboy ranked the 21 sexiest commercials of all time. Previously reported by Adrants, you can still view and vote online for the sexiest of the lot. The commercials they've chosen range from recent commercials starring Paris Hilton (Carl's Jr.), Britney Spears (fragrance), and Axe (bom-chicka-wah-wah) to early spots with Gunilla Knutson (Noxzema, 1967), Dodge (Charger, 1970), and Brooke Shields (Calvin Klein, 1980).

Other interesting calls include Suzanne Somers demonstrating the Thighmaster, Nicole Smith touting her Trimspa, and Calvin Klein's CK ads from 1995 featuring underage actors and models. To be expected, all commercials identified by Playboy feature sexualized images of women as the primary ingredient--which is certainly true for most sexy ads. To be fair, several commercials for Lee, Dockers, and Subaru turned the tables by featuring hunky guys.

Missing spots
Spots missed by Playboy include Farrah Fawcett lathering up Joe Nameth for Noxema, as well as the infamous Milwakee's Best ad introducing the Swedish Bikini Team--"It doesn't get any better than this." More important, Playboy missed the only example of sex in advertising to receive praise from Advertising Age's Bob Garfield and his Ad Review team. The spot features Grey's Anatomy's Kate Walsh pushing the pedal to the floor in her new Cadillac CTS (see below).

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Just in time for Valentine's Day

A Valentine's spot for UK intimate wear/toy marketer Ann Summers puts a twist on Santa's workshop. Three lingerie-clad models deliver gifts made of "wood" to unsuspecting men, followed by a shot of the women crafting additional "toys" in their workshop (Adland). The spot--obviously too suggestive for TV--is a viral video that creates attention and awareness as it spreads across the web. The tactic makes sense for marketers like Ann Summers that do much of their business online because it avoids network standards boards and the risk of scruity, and customers are only a click away. What it says about women is a completely different story.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Top Five Sexiest 2008 Super Bowl Ads

Although the finale for Super Bowl XLII was a surprise, it was no surprise that sexual content made its way into several of this year’s commercials. Overall, the ads were tame compared to previous years as only a handful of sexy ads were broadcast. Here is our list of the five sexiest Super Bowl ads in 2008 plus an honorable mention. View all the Super Bowl ads at USA Today, AOL, or YouTube, and tell us what you think.

5. Tie -- Taco Bell: ‘Hola’ and Planters: “Unibrow”
A sexy commercial for Fiesta Platters? A true stretch but Taco Bell pulls it off with a bit of spice and playful flirtation between a mariachi and a female coworker… Hola! Also, technically, Planter’s “Uni-brow” spot does qualify as sex in advertising: Men falling over themselves because of a woman’s scent is a classic convention, though in this instance the twist is “essence-de-peanut.”

4. Ice Breakers: Whoa!
Any spot featuring sex symbol Carmen Electra is a candidate for the list. In this spot overly excited male admirers line up for a photo op with the gorgeous celeb. Given rumors that she dated Joan Jett, it’s surprising that a female admirer wasn’t shown posing with Electra.

3. SoBe Lite: Thrillicious
It wasn’t the nude lizards so much as an attractive Naomi Campbell. The spot featured Campbell—and the SoBe lizards—dancing to “Thriller.” The commercial is fun to watch; ranking 11 on USA Today’s Ad Meter. Again, ads with physically attractive models in revealing clothing represent a primary form of sexual content in advertising.

2. Victoria’s Secret: “Let the Games Begin”
This spot contained no voiceover, just the soundtrack for “I’m in the mood for love” and 30 seconds of a playful Adriana Lima. Aired during the second half, the spot reminded viewers that “The game will be over soon” so the “real games” can begin. A lingerie-clad supermodel making eye contact with the camera qualifies, but the innuendo between “real games” and sex certainly evoked a few thoughts in the minds of viewers. However, after too much beer and nachos it’s not clear however how many Americans were in the mood for a game of “touch” football after the game.

1. Exposure
The spot begins with Doug surfing while describing his disappointment with recent Super Bowl ads: “I used to watch—for the commercials.” He announces that Danica Patrick’s “Exposure” ad is airing online, and everyone rushes to the computer. Viewers see Patrick “unzip” her leather jacket with a classic cutaway to “See it all…only at” Visitors to GoDaddy can view the “REJECTED” spot where, in true sophomoric fashion, disappointed paparazzi ask Patrick: “Where’s the beaver?” Victoria’s Secret was successful getting Super Bowl viewers to its website with online fashion shows. Using sex to do the same for the rouge, is a marketing “no-brainer.”

Honorable Mention: A pair of passionate kisses deserve some love. Among them include: the trailer for Universal’s “Wanted” starring Angelina Jolie, and the kiss in the Dell ad promoting its red computer.

Give us your two cents. Was there a commercial we missed? Again, find all the ads at USA Today, AOL or YouTube.