Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Bud Gal and sexy POP displays

“Hi, I’m a larger-than-life, bikini-clad, point-of-purchase display.

“I’m just hanging out with three of my friends at the end of aisles in a convenience store somewhere in rural Oklahoma.

“We’re here to increase Bud sales. At least that’s what I was led to believe.”

Good question: Do sexy POP displays have any influence on sales?

My guess is “yes.” I find it difficult to believe that this truly one-dimensional Bud Gal—and others like her—have no affect on beer sales.

The Research
At first glance research fails to support this perception. A 1984 study published by Marjorie Caballero and Paul Solomon in Journal of Advertising tested the influence of physically attractive models on POP displays for both beer and tissues. They found that good looking models failed to encourage men to buy more beer: “males tended to buy beer from displays depicting male models rather than from those depicting female models” (p. 21). Equally as interesting, they found that “low attractiveness” (read: ugly) models sold more tissues.

Reading deeper into the article we discover that Caballero and Solomon were only testing facial attractiveness. Basically they included mug shots of high, medium, and low attractive models or no photo at all. In other words, the images tested in their study are a far cry from the POP image shown here.

How sexy POP displays work
My guess is that marketers and retailers are very aware of the influence of POP displays. First, it’s a way to bring attention to your product just as consumers are making a decision. If you are a brand-switcher, and really don’t perceive a difference between Miller and Budweiser, the momentary gratification of a sexual image might get a sponsor the nod.

Last, let’s not forget that sexual information evokes a small but perceptible positively emotional response in most people. Especially domestic beer drinkers, right? When in such a state, one is more likely to make the impulse purchase: “Okay, I’ll get a 12-pack instead of a six.”

I’d be curious to see the research showing Bud Gal’s influence on sales. I bet she sells more Bud (and perhaps more Kleenex) in convenience stores she inhabits.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Lacoste goes Playgirl... in Esquire?

I just discovered this Lacoste faux Playgirl pose in a 2003 issue of Esquire while working on a content analysis... and I'm still trying to figure it out.

These days good-looking male models are the norm in men's style magazines. And there is partial nudity; think Calvin Klein and Dolce & Gabanna. But this image has the feel of a 1970's Burt Reynolds layout in Playgirl magazine (see him here in a 1972 Cosmo layout).

The headline "Style on Skin" must be referring to the "high style" of Lacoste on one's skin. I'm not sure straight readers flipping through Esquire would be comfortable making eye contact with a nude male model enjoying a spot of tea. It may be likely that Gay Esquire readers would have a different opinion: It's commonly believed that men's mags like GQ and Esquire have a fairly high Gay readership.

It's no surprise to magazine readers that bare male physiques are on the rise. In a previously published content analysis, we found that 11% of men in a sample of magazine ads were dressed in a sexual manner. By 2003, that proprotion had increased to 21%. Nudity (Lacoste ad), while absent in 1983, represented about 3% in 2003.

Obviously in no rush, men are making the 30-year migration from '70s layouts in Playgirl and Cosmo to ad pages in men's magazines.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Vassarette's repositioning

Behold the latest Vassarette ad. It appeared in a recent issue of Redbook.

Earlier this decade Vassarette attempted to reposition itself as “sexy” with some smart ads designed by The Martin Agency. I’m not sure, however, if they were able to shake their department store, white/beige “basics” image. The Martin Agency’s ads lasted only a couple of years.

A Cross Between VS and Wonderbra

The current attempt looks like a Victoria’s Secret ad with a Wonderbra appeal: “May all your bad hair days go unnoticed.” The design appears have changed, however, as have the names: “The Real Sexy Crazy In Love Bra.” Vassarette is a Vanity Fair brand, which may or may not still be controlled by VF Corporation (the receptionist at Vanity Fair is not authorized to say at this time).

Victoria’s Secret had a major impact on the intimatewear category. Many competing brands have felt compelled to reposition themselves as “sexy.” Vassarette is no exception.