Posts tagged ‘sex’
A recent study by German boadband association Bitkom reveals that 84% of young people would choose having the internet and a mobile phone over having a romantic partner and a car. No word on whether the car was German or American.
What do you suppose the figures would be for other media? I suspect television would be nearly as high. MP3s and gaming consoles as well. While I take the study with a big grain of German salt, I think it’s not wrong to ask how technology is changing both what we feel we need to have a happy life and the social structure itself.
Perhaps Sartre got it right when he said, “L’enfer, c’est les autres” (“Hell is other people.”). Heaven, apparently, is an iPhone.
According to a posting on Techdirt today, the brain trust over at Linden Labs, the company behind Second Life (full disclosure: Mark Kingdon, who now heads up Linden Labs is an acquaintance) thinks the reason that brands never really warmed up to their virtual world is sex. And while I’ll grant that having a naked nine-foot-tall Tongan bodybuilder stroll through your virtual store may not be all that good for business (depending on the wares you’re peddling, of course) to blame sex for corporate disinterest in Second Life is to miss the point entirely.
The reason brands didn’t embrace Second Life is that ultimately attempting to do real things–i.e., shopping, press conferences, product testing, etc.–was a beating, a needless complication, a plate-spinning act. Yes, I’ve been present when Joseph Jaffe brags about how many people have shown up to shindigs he’s thrown for his company Crayon in Second Life. Fine, you got a hundred or even a few hundred avatars to stop by and see you and your pals moving around a room like bad Korean animation. But once the novelty had worn off, then what?
I’ve also heard Jaffe predict that the virtual world interface would replace the browser as the main way we do things online. Wrong, of course, and wrong for what should have been a painfully obvious reason. A good marketing program has no unnecessary components, just as a well-built machine, has no unnecessary parts and a well-written sentence has no unnecessary words. When brands asked their consumers to go to Second Life, they were asking them to play dress up. Consumers simply didn’t have time for it. The value exchange wasn’t there. Banishing sex to a new “nookie continent,” or whatever Linden Labs is going to call it, isn’t going to solve the problem.
What will ultimately attract consumers isn’t some sort of cockamamie electronic costume party. It’s simplicity. It’s being able to do things online almost just by thinking about them. Really great ideas are stunningly basic. Second Life’s fifteen minutes are up. Bring on the next thing.
Sally Law has written an interesting article in LiveScience called “Sex Sells, But Who’s Buying?” In it she writes:
“…past research has shown the average woman responds negatively to ads with explicit or gratuitous sexual content. But now, it also looks like women are less offended by these ads if sexual imagery is viewed in the context of a committed relationship.”
Of course, almost all the sex in advertising is crafted for the eyes of men. I also think it’s indisputable that your chances of winning in major advertising award shows goes up if you’re doing work that targets young men (Dove’s “Evolution” is the exception that proves the rule). What’s more, hot creative shops almost always build their reputations on testosterone-heavy work. When you target young men, you almost automatically are granted a license to be irreverent, raucous, tasteless, even raunchy. Now I can be as raunchy as the next guy, probably more so. Ask around. Yet the kind of work routinely favored by awards shows raises an interesting question. Should the shows be more responsive to work that targets women, who inarguably control a significant majority of purchase decisions? It’s easy to brush this off with a laddish joke (“Sexual imagery in the context of a committed relationship? Where’s the fun in that, sugar britches?”), but the subject deserves some serious thought.
The longer I do this for a living, the more respect I have for a brilliant ad for a product that targets moms. It’s damned hard to do well, and most of the guys who are out there doing ads for 1,500-cc motorcycles and 2,000-calorie hamburgers would stare glumly at a blank piece of paper for weeks if they were given the assignment. And in light of Sally Law’s findings, it’s clear that ads targeting women don’t have to be dull. If I may slightly alter David Ogilvy’s old saw: “The consumer isn’t a prude; she’s your wife.”