Naked Selling


I know that, of all my articles, this one will attract the most readers. Why?

Well, because of its title, of course. I am also realistic to know that

this is the sentence where most readers will stop reading, knowing there isn’t

any sex nor naked images to be seen. Judging by the feedback I get, I have some

regular readers, and I hope you at least are still with me.

Sex sells: the most popular search terms for any search engine will always

include a liberal smuttering – er, smattering – of phrases from people with only

one thing on their minds. Every other tv or webcast ad will have scenes that

appeal to our most basic of instincts, not to mention many print ads, posters and


Sometimes the link between the product and the carnal subject matter of the

ads can be tenuous, to say the least. What the marketing people are doing, of

course, is trying to grab attention. Take posters along a the wall besides a

subway escalator. There you are, travelling at 6 miles per hour past these

invitations to spend your money….

1. Flirtatious, seductive torso shot with beckoning finger: “come to the

show!”… (6 seconds attention)

2. A rotund middle aged man with a beer belly: “The best…..” (1

second attention)

3. Two bikini clad girls: “call us today”…..(and there you are –

if you are male – walking backwards down the up escalator….2 minutes and still


Of course, there is no reason to get all worked up about this. For single ads

and short campaigns, attention grabbing is essential. However, if you are

running a long campaign or building or sustaining a brand, scantily clad women

(or men) are not going to sustain it over the long haul, leaving the campaign

limp and unfulfilled. No, as well as eye-catching images, you need substance.

You need to get the real message across, before the attention span wanes. Sexual

imagery is great in a short burst, but sooner or later you will want your

audience to love your product, and not just have a brief affair with it.

Some may even go as far as to say that using titillating images and innuendo

is a cheap trick, betraying a lack of imagination by the ad agency and marketing

guys. Surely, this depends on how you weave the images into the message: if you

are selling photocopiers, for example, having a tv ad with a half naked model

standing by the machine, with the tag line: “Buy our photocopiers”

is crude, gratuitous and tacky (and a rubbish tag line). However, having a naked couple in bed together

with a photocopier and with the tag line: “Great reproduction”

may be risqué but would not be crude by any measure (hey, this is my best effort

for free – I can normally do better when I’m being paid!). It could also be

controversial enough to start a valuable debate, possible in the media, about

the ad itself, thus bringing in valuable free copy and air time).

Remember: a

marketing campaign with pretty girls and no real intelligence would soon go limp

and leave a client unfulfilled. This kind of crude campaign would not challenge

your audience to think about your product and chew over an intelligent message

or some clever humour. By draping pretty girls over your product, with no

connection between the two, you are just saying: “hey, buy this

product!”. This blatant disregard for your audience strips your campaign

down to its bare essentials. This is naked

selling, indeed.

Sexual imagery is hard to avoid in ads and in life in general. Some parents

take offence to this. This is not through over-prudishness. This is because

their young children are simply not equipped to understand the real

reasons for the imagery and all the nuances that are involved. Even if parents

started to explain to their kids why people are wearing very little in tv ads,

for example, there would be more questions than answers. So parents naturally

think: best not go there! The problem is, of course, that the ads do go

there – and they are in your face and are relentless. For what it is worth, I

would say that a good campaign should not be too explicit. My couple (you

remember, the ones in bed with the photocopier) could be wearing their

nightshirts, at least. I mean, we would still get the joke, wouldn’t we?

In-your-face crude images are simply not necessary. We are all hot blooded

creatures, but most of us like to be teased and played with rather than one

wham-bang big push that leaves nobody satisfied.

Sometimes imagery is used to describe a product that has nothing to do with

sex or anything remotely connected with it. The Insectocutor SE40 is a fly

killer machine that has been specifically designed to look good in

front-of-house areas of restaurants and bars. As such, it has been described as

stylish, elegant and as having beautiful curves. The connection to the female

form is tenuous, but is detectable all the same. Just as men (in particular)

often think of their cars as females, Insectocutor, the manufacturers and Arkay

Hygiene who sell it are so bowled over with the look of the SE40 that they are

happy to have it described in female terms, and in rather sexy female terms at

that. No naked sales here, just naked fly killers.


Source by Vernon Stent

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