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Marketing Mainstreaming Porn?

(Disclaimer: while not directly related to real estate – I thought this topic would make for interesting discussion)

sex sells

Sex Sells

For decades that’s been a mantra.  We are accustomed to seeing pretty people and sexy scenes in aspirational marketing efforts.  But a Bud Light commercial, released via YouTube, has me wondering: Are marketers are crossing the line, or has porn become so mainstream that it’s no longer considered taboo.  Go ahead, watch ….

YouTube Airing of Bud Light Commercial:

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(Note:  I laughed out loud at the commercial.)

Porn Creep

It has a name, and you see it coming from a number of brands that are reaching out to a youthful audience.  Think: Paris Hilton’s Carl’s Jr. commercial, or the banned ads from Calvin Klein that reek of exploited children– you can see them on YouTube (BTW – so can young kids).

It seems brands, including Budweiser – who each Super Bowl tugs at our hearts with the Clydesdale commercials – are willing to alienate one segment to reach out to another, who they must consider core to the product.

Pornified Generation?

According to some anti-pornography experts, we now have a whole generation that doesn’t think this is a big deal.  Ok.  I get where the target audience of beer is likely a younger man looking to enjoy himself – which can reasonably include alcohol and sex.

What about young kids?

Does this force discussion before it’s time?  Perhaps a parent considers a child too young to broach a particular subject – yet now has little choice.

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Could this create even more pressure on young people?  I’m not a parent, so I can’t speak with relevant experience, so I ask you to weigh in.

My thoughts go to tweens, and their natural curiosity about “trying things” like drinking, maybe smoking, drug use … Does porn creep add group sex, sexual same-sex interaction and other items to the menu creating a whole new level of peer pressure?

I understand the marketers’ plight.   We need to create wins that lead to revenue.  Sometimes that win is controversy, as it creates conversation, press coverage and interest.  Even as open as I am, I wonder if we really need to be so sensational.   Hulu launched with humor, and it’s skewed toward a younger demographic.

What about real estate?

I hear of bikini clad brokers on billboards … could real estate reach a tipping point where lines begin to blur?  I doubt it, but then again, I never thought I’d watch an ad from Budweiser that included vibrators…

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Written By

Brandie is an unapologetically candid marketing professional who was recently mentioned on BusinessWeek as a Top Young Female Entrepreneur. She recently co-founded consulting firm MarketingTBD. She's held senior level positions with GE and Fidelity, as well as with entrepreneurial start-ups. Raised by a real estate Broker, Brandie is passionate about real estate and is an avid investor. Follow her on Twitter.

16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Ken Brand

    June 19, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    That is a FUNNY commercial. But I see the problem.

    How do you keep youngsters from consuming the inappropriate? Don’t know the answer.

    As for bikini billboards and such, I think it’s generally ill advised (duh). If that approach is a conscious branding strategy I imagine there’s a target market for that…like the beer commercial.

    The tragedy is when that style of approach is deployed ignorantly.

    As a sales manager, if and when I observe potentially harmful marketing I address it. When it’s a competitor, I chuckle or wince…they’re on their own.

    Of course we talk about the topic of sex as a marketing magnet all night long.

  2. Joe Loomer

    June 19, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    Personally, I prefer the “Dude” commercials.

    Once went with a single friend to a BMW dealership – there was a stunning and articulate lady working the main desk. She knew how to “work the room.”

    My friend and I got busted looking back at her as we walked off with a salesman, he just grinned and said “She’s our Greeter.” The implication was obvious.

    Like Ken, I can’t see it as a concious strategy in real estate. Imagine the traffic though, if you had “Hooters” host one of your Open Houses. The quality of the leads you get might not be exactly what you’re looking for.

    As parents of 13 and 16 year olds of different genders, my wife and I employ separate strategies to discuss pornography and other graphic topics. The strategies are similar in that the number one priority is a focus on self-respect.

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  3. Lani Rosales

    June 19, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    So @Brandiei and I discussed this topic yesterday on RE:rnd radio and my feelings are pretty strong on this topic- we live in very liberal places yet I should be able to turn on Nickelodeon at primetime and not be forced into a discussion about birds or bees.

    Regarding real estate, I think the issue is that many agents are using social media and are overly relaxed with their pictures, their language and their behavior- be yourselves but only the version of yourselves you are in front of your children, family, or priest even. Have a litmus test for yourself and always ask if you’re going too far. I’m silly, hell, I’m even crude sometimes, but I never portray myself as available which is what many of these provocative pictures of lady realtors (in print or on social networks) portray.

  4. Brandie Young

    June 19, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    Hi Ken, thanks for your pearls of wisdom – always appreciated. As we mentioned on the call yesterday, there’s provocative, and there’s just poor taste … While the classification is subjective, I agree with you is an ignorant deployment.

    Joe – the Dude commercials were hysterical – and were viral! Great point on lead quality …

    Ms. Lani – it was a good discussion. Funny how most of the overtly sexual stuff comes from us girls? While I’m all for a little flirt, I agree with you – there’s a line. One listener comment via chat stuck with me “look in the mirror and ask yourself ‘would his wife let me work with him?’” (paraphrased, but a good litmus)

  5. Gwen Banta

    June 21, 2009 at 8:00 am

    You should see the Joe’s Jeans ads that line Sunset Blvd., Brandie. It’s all about nudity – they don’t even pretend to be about clothes. And I think Calvein Klein crossed the line with his newest billboard that shows a bunch of half-clad tweens together in what appears to be a pre group sex scene.

    Even though Joe had some very funny suggestions, I don’t see this type of advertising coming from real estate agents, even in hedonistic L.A. However, I often see some very suggestive attire. But in the end, you better be able to write and explain a contract, or your ass will be left flapping in the wind regardless of whether it’s clad in a G-string or in Georgio Armani.

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