Naresh Gupta, Managing Partner and Chief Strategy Officer, Bang in the Middle, takes a look at a few ongoing ads that have gone over the top in using sexual imagery, including the Triumph Bra and Skore condoms ads
Delhi | June 29, 2015
I know itâ€™s a rhetorical question. We all know the answer, or else how will categories like deodorant create desire for themselves? Sex sells and sells even better when you have categories where sex is an integral part of the appeal.
This week we know Triumph Bra didnâ€™t win.
When you are an intimate wear brand, creating appeal using young, thin, conventionally attractive woman is par for the course. But when the brand uses this imagery to appeal to Dads for Fatherâ€™s Day, you have a disaster on hand. Crescat, a shopping mall in Colombo, released an ad for Triumph that had the most unfortunately worded line. The line hinted at something that no brand should, and there was no option for the brand but to put an apology in the public space. This one ad in one newspaper by one shopping mall will remain one of the most unfortunate examples of sexualized brand appeal.
Triumph is not the only one with thoughtless sexual innuendo in the brand appeal. Look at these two posts from Facebook, placed by brands and pushed too to create engagement:
Both these are prime examples how everyday brands are using erotic imagery and hints of sexual acts without having a reason to do so. On the Hotel GTC ad, we can even question if the offer is ethical!
Brands that are built on the act of sex are the best placed to create imagery that is laden with imageries that are titillating and provocative. The new Skore Condom ad is a collection of floor exercises gymnastically done by an attractive woman and handsome hunk in a gym. It is a condom brand and they have the license to go whole hog, the brand does so with full gusto. The comments on their YouTube channel have a raw display of testosterone.
Nothing wrong, except it reminded me of a similar ad done by Durex Japan, where an attractive women and a handsome hunk demonstrate a series of floor exercises in similar gymnastically inspired postures. The Japanese ad and the Indian one are suspiciously similar. Someone inspired someone? Incidentally, if you visit the social media page of the brand, you might think that it is not a condom brand.
The Durex Japan TVC:
The Skore Condom TVC:
The ad that has pushed the â€˜actâ€™ to sell something really mundane is Lenskart. The ad starts with a post coital scenario with both the models in buff wearing sunglasses. The ad from then on is of the two dressing up looking at the sunglasses. The soundtrack in the background clearly hints at a one-night stand. The ad is inspired by the iconic award winning Axe Deodorant ad. Remember the ad where the lead actors dress up in reverse after the act!Â There are subtexts that you can read in the ad, what you donâ€™t get is how this can be an ad for an eyewear brand?
The movies have handled this scenario much better than the brands. Remember the scene from PK where Anushka walks into the balcony with Sushant Singh following her?
What works for a condom and lingerie may not work for hotel rooms or sunglasses. It might get you the attention that is avoidable and can box the brand in a corner from where it cannot escape. Appeals based on sex can be powerful, but abuse it and the brand will be harmed more then deriving benefit from it.