Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Advanced degrees for attractive people

"Our grad program is replete with good-looking students."

That is the message in recent educational ads published in Newsweek. Sure, attractive models adorn products in ads from hairspray, to autos, to softdrinks, but apparently they are making their way into ads for higher learning. One wonders if the woman in the UTEP MBA ad is a current student, a model, or the type of person the program would like to recruit.

Readers stop to look at physically-attractive models, especially when those models are making eye contact with them. Numerous academic studies show that to be the case. In addition, Sam Shahid, the man behind much Abercrombie and Calvin Klein advertising, said that he considers attractive people a form of "sex in advertising." On the other hand, the message may be that this is the type of student that represents the program. A prospective student might be wondering, "Wow, I had no idea I would be going to class with people who look like that if I pursue an MIS degree at Nova."

I may be wrong, but I doubt the models in these ads are actual students (a quick look at UTEP's website suggests they are not). If so, it is somewhat misleading to use stock images of good-looking models to promote a grad program.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Arby's "Birthday" commercial

Ben, one of our esteemed alums, sent me a link to this Arby's fast food commercial where the fast food marketer plays a central role in a husband/wife roleplay fantasy. It's the one where she dresses as an Arby's employee to serve her husband an Arby's combo.

A quick search reveals that the "Birthday" spot shows up on several family blogs with comments like: "I totally see me and Barry doing this," and "I love this commercial." The spot doesn't rank high on the "taste" meter but it evokes chuckles nonetheless as it pokes fun at men and their fantasies.

Several bloggers noted the "subliminal" factor in the commercial; the Arby's hat boinking above the man's head as she emerges from the bathroom. In fact, the symbolism is hardly masked which pretty much disqualifies it as a truly subliminal tactic.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Zombie Strippers

Haven't seen the movie but here is the poster for Zombie Strippers (2008). Starring Jenna Jameson and Robert Englund, the film's plot revolves around an escaped retrovirus that infects strippers in a Nebraska nightclub. Infection can kill, technically, but also make one a "super zombie stripper" (which results in better tips). Do the women succumb to the temptation? You get the drift.

Axe taps Facebook to reach college men

Axe is dangling tantalizing trips to European cities to get college men to funnel their buddies to an Axe Facebook page.

Axe is touting weeklong grand prize excursions to Rome, Paris, and Madrid as tongue-in-cheek "Study Abroad"opportunities. A quarter page ad in Univerity of Georgia's Red & Black directs men to the contest's website. The ad features pictures of young beauties and the promise of "learning the language of love." Contestants must be 18-to-24-year-old males enrolled F08 in an institution of higher learning. Winners are determined by the largest number of male friends registered on Axe's Facebook page.

Each grand prize winner, there are four, can take three friends to a destination city. In Paris, for instance, contestants can discover why it is "known as the city of romance, and get to know firsthand the age-old art of French kissing." In Rome, one can expect to find young beauties who "like to strip down and jump into fountains." In Marid, the "hot senoritas" like to "frolic into the afterhours."

Unfortunately, the contest only provides the flight, room, spending money, and a Flip recorder and Marmot bag. Contestants must ignite their own romantic opportunities. Pity the young women in these cities when the "Study Abroad" winners touch down with their amorous expecations.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Meet Verizon’s sexy wireless girl

As a Verizon customer, I’m surprised to see it partnering with Maxim to promote its “girl of the month.”

Verizon, a Fortune 500 company, promotes itself as “family friendly” with dependable and reliable service. Its Foundation seeks to foster education, health, safety, and literacy—with links to videos about domestic violence prevention.

But here Verizon is promoting wireless services with promises of sexy behind-the-scenes shots of Kimberly Sarah: She “calls herself a ‘goodie-goodie,’ but if her sexy photo shoot was any indication, we have a feeling there’s an inner wild chick bubbling just below the surface.” Readers who “like what [they] see,” can see more “only on Verizon wireless V-cast.”

One has to question why Verizon, a company that publicly values corporate responsibility, partners with a sexist publication like Maxim to market video streams of modeling shoots. The tactic obviously enhances viewership, but much more is expected from a company such as Verizon.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A sexy twist on organ donation

A Belgian agency recently won an award for best non-profit ad by putting a sexy twist on a topic known to be a conversation killer.

Duval Guillaume, a 200-person outfit, produced "Reborn to be Alive" campaign to get people talking about organ donation and to make them aware that in Belgium one needs to sign up (opt-in) to be a donor.

Similarly in the U.S., states require you to "opt-in" to become an organ donor. If not, your next of kin is asked to make the decision if something happens to you. Unfortunately, many people don't talk about their wishes because it grosses them out or--"knock on wood"--talking about it might make it happen.

The accompanying ad, "Becoming a donor is probably your only chance to get inside her," appeared in a leading Belgian men's magazine. According to the awarding publication, the campaign is a "sexy and surprising interpretation of a serious topic." The ad is a definite example of how sex in advertising can be used to promote prosocial issues. Whether this ad is in good taste or appropriate for audiences other than Maxim readers is completely different issue.

Sex appears to be on the minds of Duval Guillaume. Consider some of the campaigns it showcases on its site.