Thursday, August 21, 2008

Network shots of Misty May and Kerri Walsh may be strategic

Anyone watching the Beijing Olympics is sure to catch a glimpse of a network promo for bikini-clad U.S. beach volleyball duo Misty May and Kerri Walsh. Both grabbed national attention in the 2004 Olympics for their physiques and athleticism.

In a recent article and book chapter, University of Alabama researchers Kim Bissell and Andrea Duke researched the network coverage of 2004 Olympic beach volleyball games to determine whether NBC spiced up its coverage to attract viewers. As reported in Bump, Set, Spike: An Analysis of Commentary and Camera Angles of Women's Beach Volleyball During the 2004 Summer Olympics, they content analyzed several matches and found that while the commentary was not overtly sexual the camera shots were very sexual: "More than 20% of the camera shots were found to be tight shots of the players' chests and just over 17% of the shots were coded as buttock shots, which," note Bissell and Duke, "leaves viewers with lasting memories of players' bodies rather than of memories of athleticism."

Bissell and Duke frame their analysis in commentary and analysis of female sports (e.g., LPGA) and recent moves to "sex up" athletes to attract viewers. While May and Walsh report that their attire is purely functional (August 20, 2008 "All Things Considered"), NBC producers and promoters make the decisions on what to show in enhance ratings. Bissell and Duke make a compelling case that NBC is showing plenty.

Bissell, Kimberly, and Andrea M. Duke (2007). Bump, Set, Spike: An Analysis of Commentary and Camera Angles of Women's Beach Volleyball During the 2004 Summer Olympics. Journal of Promotion Management, 13 (1/2), 35-53.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Getting cozy with Mack's earplugs

A recent ad in Newsweek visually touts a sex-related benefit of earplugs: Earplugs bring you "together." "Mack's Earplugs saved our marriage." Hence the appeal, "by this, get this..." Jacque Lambiase and I have been writing about the use of sex as a brand promise. When using this approach, only about 20% of the time do advertisers explicit state that sex is an outcome. More often, like in the Mack's ad, they use an interplay between headline and visual to get the meaning across. Using sex to sell audio inhibitors is an original. If you've seen something similar, us know.