Monday, February 23, 2009

Sexiest ads of the 2009 Oscars

The Academy Awards show is the second largest advertising event after the Super Bowl. Over 32 million U.S. viewers tuned in this year to see the spectacle: Hugh Jackman, People magazine’s Sexiest Person of 2008, introducing beautiful actors looking their best. For this reason alone, the 2009 Oscars deserve a peak to seek if its advertisers utilized sex appeal to market their products.

Unlike the Super Bowl, Oscar viewers are more upscale and more likely to be female. As a result, sexual content is more subtle than the "shock-and-awe" of commercials. Typical are attractive models, with fetching smiles and flirtatious glances. Last year’s sexiest Oscar ads included promos for "Dancing with the Stars," and commercials for L’Oreal (not in this year’s line up) and Cadillac. Here is a shortlist of the sexiest ads aired during this year’s telecast.

3. Diet Coke. "Red Dress."
Just about any commercial with supermodel Heidi Klum in a short red dress qualifies. The spot helped to create awareness for women’s heart health.

2. JCPenney. "Style. Quality. Price."
Stylish, attractive models. Flirty looks into the camera. The sexual content was certainly subtle and playful in the seven Penney’s ads showcasing designer lines it carries with the tagline “Style. Quality. Price.” Last year, Penneys used the Academy Awards to introduce its Ralph Lauren-infused "American Living" line.

1. Dial. Antioxident Body Wash.
Soap ads have contained veiled images of people showering for years, so what’s the big deal? Well, this Dial ad definitely updates those standards by showing more than before. The ad kicks off the launch for the new anti-aging line (cranberry extracts and antioxidant infusion combat aging). With little doubt the ad raised awareness among the 40% of viewers who are male.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Edition revealed today

A major seller sure to be on newsstands at least a month, Sports Illustrated today released its annual Swimsuit Edition. The issue is SI's largest and most widely read (last year's edition garnered 66 million readers).

Knowing that readers are as into the cover story as much as sports, advertisers are more likely to position their products with sexual content. Those in the 2008 issue to do so included Budweiser, Pontiac, Old Spice, Evan Williams, Axe (no surprise), Yamaha, Honda, AT&T, Canadian Club, Lifestyles, Peak antifreeze, and GMC.

Someone once said about magazines, "the biggest ad for what can be found inside is the cover." True to form, SI's 2009 swimsuit edition cover features Leonardo Dicaprio's girlfriend and Isreali model Bar Refaeli. Houston Chronicle's Clifford Pugh described the cover this way: "...Bar Refaeli, tugs on the strings of her Missoni bikini bottom while just a smidgen of fabric covers her ample breasts." As convential wisdom and past swimsuit issues attest, Bar, her supermodel friends, and advertisers will not fail to disappoint those drawn to SI by this year's cover.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Carnival ad might prime impure interpretations

A reader brought this ad to our attention. It's certainly innocent at surface level but subliminal enthusiasts would see much more. The ad appeared on the backs of busses before the recent Wellington (NZ) Cup Carnival sponsored by Century City Developments. Perhaps the headline, "Are you ready for a good time," might trigger a sexual interpretation of the accompanying image. Priming theory research demonstrates quite conclusively that words and phrases can influence how subsequent information is interpreted. I think our reader is on to something here. Thanks for the comment.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Top Five Sexiest 2009 Super Bowl Ads

Sour economic times lead to less tolerance for gratuitous sex appeals in advertising. That’s the conjecture from some Russian sociologists. Judging from this year’s Super Bowl, I would have to agree. Compared to 2008 (see a rundown of last year’s sexiest ads), this year’s spots are much more subdued both in terms of number and explicitness of sexual ads. Overall, my team noted only two clear instances of sex in advertising (GoDaddy), two mild instances of sex in advertising (Doritos and Taco Bell), and three instances of sexual content flashed momentarily on the screen (movie and network promos).

5. Movie/Network Promos (Fast and Furious 4, Star Trek, Chuck)
What do these three promos have in common? One brief sexual scene. It wasn’t enough to qualify them individually, but we’ll lump them together because they’re promos. Two women kiss (almost) in the "Fast and Furious 4" spot, two dark figures are unmistakably entangled in the "Star Trek" promo, and a woman on all fours moves toward the camera in the "Chuck" spot. She wasn’t on screen for long but the "Chuck" promo aired at least four times. Research shows that most movie and network promos contain sexual scene even if that scene is insignificant within the program.
How does the come-on-too-strong-at-a-party theme qualify? We did mention that this is a mild example of sex in advertising. The couple is attractive and there is flirtation. But using enchiladas from Taco Bell to win her over takes the cake. The spot is lite and humorous, much like last year’s Super Bowl “Mariachi” spot for Taco Bell.

3. Doritos: "Power of the Crunch"
He crunches. Her clothes fly off. Audience sees woman in underwear. A classic example of unclothed female model used to attract attention. The man’s saving grace: It was an accident and he didn’t use his new found power on other women. Overall, a cute and memorable spot. But tough to top last year’s amateur-produced spots.

1. [tie] GoDaddy: "Baseball" and "Shower"
The domain name provider is known for its tasteless and downright bad examples of sex in Super Bowl advertising; most recently featuring Indy car driver Danica Patrick. Last year she promised to take it off. This year—in two separate spots—she takes multiple showers and talks about “enhancement.” In the “Shower” spot, a voyeuristic college male and his friends direct Danica to take showers. He even adds Ms. Schmidt, "the German woman in the Dean's office," to the Danika shower fantasy. In “Baseball,” a take on the steriod circus, GoDaddy spokeswomen testify to a Congressional committee. Danica is the first to admit that she did “enhance”--her image that is. Envious, an obviously "enhanced" female witness is about to rip open her top as proof when the commercial cuts to “Continued at”

Personally, I hate to see Ms. Patrick in these ads, but she is a visible sex symbol in a male dominated sport—with many adoring male fans who are GoDaddy’s target market. Last year’s ad drove men to the site. These ads appearently did the same.