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« Idiocentrism | Main | Elsewhere »

January 12, 2005

Sexy vs. Smutty

Fenster Moop writes:

Dear Blowhards:

Sex has always been central to advertising but it's only been recently that we've embraced two separate but related ideas. The first is bluntness about the act. Viagra and Cialis ads are not always sexy in a traditional advertising sense, but all that talk about four hour erections and quality sexual experiences is new.

Then there's smutty--a quite different concept entirely than sexy or blunt. Explicit smuttiness has tended to be a no-go on TV. Better an oily, near naked body than too clear a reference to what might be done with it.

That seems to be changing. A while back I wrote (here) about a TV ad for Las Vegas. The ad--still running, by the way--is not really sexy, in any conventional sense, but it's definitely smutty. I found the ad humorous and some of you questioned that reaction. One way or another, there's no doubt about the basic character of the ad (the link to the Vegas site is still up at the old post, but I don't think you can see the ad on-line at the moment).

Next: Slate magazine has an article up on the porn-like attributes of a new Wendy's ad for big meat--that is, a large new burger. You can see a pretty model sell this product by stuffing her fist into her mouth here.

Do you suppose if the ad is successful, Wendy's will offer foot-long hot dogs?

Next: Now comes the new ad for Hyatt hotels. You can see it here (you'll have click through the button for the new ads, then selecting the ad entitled "Gold Passport ").

You have to watch this one carefully to see its clever, smutty side. Watch the couple in the pool, with the man first warning the woman to behave herself followed, after a few quick cuts, by her arm plunging down into the water toward his . . . um . . . mid-section. Listen to the woman getting a mud rub-down ooh and ahh, and then refer to a "little piece of heaven between my . . . ", only to have it cut away and someone else finish the sentence innocently "toes".

Back in the early sixties my mom had a letter published in Time magazine. She was distressed over what she considered the then-rampant smuttiness in Hollywood films. In that era, you may recall, tinseltown was concerned over the competition from television and felt it needed to offer "more" than what you could find on the boob tube. As it sexed up its movies (tame by today's standards, obviously), it launched an ad campaign under the banner "movies are better than ever". Mom's Time magazine tirade was headlined "movies are bedder than ever." So are today's ads I guess. As for me, I find the Hyatt ad, like the Vegas ad, clever . . . but I do wonder what mom would think if she were still around.



posted by Fenster at January 12, 2005


And what would she make of a movie entitled "Meet the Fockers"?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on January 12, 2005 4:54 PM

Y'wonder. They must have conducted focus groups hich tell them this stuff works, huh? Does that picture make you want to buy a big hamburger? So you can gain several pounds in one sitting? And then have sex? Is that the point? And those cialis/viagra ads: I can't get away from the fact that they are for erectile dysfunction, for God's sake. Are they trying to make men run out and want to claim that condition coz it's now "sexy" to NOT be able to do it? What's,er, up with that?(But if it's, er, up for more than four hours, you should seek medical attention). Do they think women are going to get more receptive if they pull out a vial of blue pills and say, this lasts for 36 hours? I have seen the Hyatt ad. It's not too bad, but it does seem like the kind of thing that would make parents and teenagers uncomfortable to be in the same room together while watching. And this works in terms of sales, huh?

Posted by: annette on January 12, 2005 5:37 PM

The first thing that came to mind on seeing that picture was a nature show I saw a while back in which a large snake managed to gulp down a small gazelle(?) --or some such animal-- without chewing. The snake had to unhinge its jaws to get the poor animal in and was some time in the act. I can still see the hoof sticking out of the snakes mouth--an image that spoils any pleasure I might get looking at this woman.

Posted by: harv on January 12, 2005 11:37 PM

Now that Harv has shared that, I can't forget the image, either. Yee---uuck. It is pictures like that that make one shake one's head when people are waxing poetic about the "beauty of nature." However, it might not be a bad image to keep in mind before eating a twenty-ounce hamburger with cheese and bacon on it!

Posted by: annette on January 13, 2005 11:00 AM

I noticed this same tendency in professional advertisement, too.
Not long ago the rep of commercial lighting company ( presented a new catalog.
Pity, the site doesn't come close to the printed literature, although you are given a hint of what's awaiting you (at the header/banner of each lighting category).
The catalog is adorned with young naked ballet bodies (that's right, faces are mostly cut out) in various combinations, sometimes next to the lighting fixtures, sometimes not. I was taken aback for a moment when looking for a page of the *serafina* pendant I stumbled upon said (sort of pear-shaped) pendant dangling from similarly-shaped human muscle arrangement.

I suppose with certain effort you can produce proper connection between anything however distant... I wonder, are their sales up?

OT: Annette, could you send me your other e-mail address (I've misplaced it) - the one you signed your comments don't seem to work.

Posted by: Tatyana on January 13, 2005 11:46 AM

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