When Advertising Goes Too Far…?

Striptease or Advertising?

Striptease or Advertising?

Photo from the Las Vegas Sun.

Imagine walking along Las Vegas Boulevard as a tourist. And suddenly you see a vehicle sauntering toward you. It’s all lit up. You realize it’s not just any ordinary vehicle. It’s a moving, mobile advertisement. And beyond the plexiglass of the cargo area is a girl. Dancing. On a pole. And it’s all in the name of advertising. (To read the full story from the Las Vegas Sun, written by Joe Schoenmann, click here.)

Of course Las Vegas is known for being ridiculously over-the-top. But when does advertising go too far? Those who support the mobile advertising device for Deja Vu Showgirls says it’s protected by the First Amendment–that it’s commercial speech. Those who oppose it argue the most obvious reasons–it’s a distraction and may cause an accident. Oh, yeah, and there are girls in bikinis dancing on polls.

The fact of the matter is that business is slow these days. In our not-so-thriving economy, advertisers and marketers have had to be more innovative than their competitors to make a buck or two. According to Mr. Schoenmann’s article, the effectiveness of the mobile advertising has been “phenomenal.” Obviously, a truck with scantily-clad women dancing inside is going to turn a head or two.

Eva Mendes Brings Sexy Back

Eva Mendes Brings Sexy Back

Photo from Eparsa Magazine

Calvin Klein, along with actress/model Eva Mendes, has also been picking up some heat with its newest advertisement in Soho, New York City. Some are calling the sexy billboard shot, shown above, as “borderline pornography.” But it has to be driving business sales for Calvin Klein through the roof, right?

So what do you think? In a world where advertising rules–especially in magazine journalism–when can it go too far? Or is this just innovative advertising? Is this really a form of commercial speech, or just a form of pornography? If you were asked to run an ad for a magazine that you found inappropriate or offensive, would you still run it if you knew it would bring in a lot of revenue for your magazine? Why or why not?

 

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13 responses to “When Advertising Goes Too Far…?

  1. In regards to whether I would run a questionably evocative ad or not, I think it comes down to what will most offend my readership and what will get us in a row over questions of censorship.

    If you’re the editor of Parents magazine, you’re obviously going to think carefully about running a half-nude ad. However, if you’re on the staff of Men’s Health, something racy is not going to seem out of place at all.

  2. I really wouldn’t consider this innovative advertising, but it is a guaranteed way to get attention. Sex sells, anyone? I think you also need to consider your audience. If you’re running an evocative ad in Cosmo: what the hell, why not? But, as Nate said, you might think differently if it’s going in Parents.

    Just be thankful we’re not in Europe, where this sort of thing (or worse) is plastered on everything.

  3. I am appalled at this “stripper-mobile”. In public advertising, that is going too far. For ads similar to the Calvin Klein ad, I think the appropriateness is really dependent on where the advertisement is run. On a billboard, I would consider it appropriate, but on the pages of the SI Swimsuit Issue or Maxim, I would not.

    • Yeah, it’s on a billboard that practically covers a city block in Soho. Store owners and other interested parties are calling it too much and over the top because it’s where everyone can see it. One has to wonder how much business it’s driving away–or are New Yorkers just used to this sort of thing by now?

  4. I think we’re seeing more companies crossing the line in terms of what’s tasteful and what’s not in order to attract consumers. I can’t believe what some companies are willing to try and what some publications are willing to print. Should ads with half-naked models be displayed where little kids can see them?

    When it comes to running an inappropriate or offensive ad in my publication, it all depends on what the readers will think. The last thing I want to do is drive away my readers by running advertisements that disgust them. Once you lose your readers’ trust, it’s nearly impossible to lure them back.

    • I totally agree. It’s up to the readers. If this is something that will sell, go for it. But if it is something that is going to lose money, don’t do it. Whatever makes readers buy the magazine and makes you money is good.

      As for the stripper mobile? That’s a little much. Granted, it’s in Vegas. If it’s going to fly anywhere, it’s there. I don’t really mind the billboard though. I’m pretty sure that one of David Beckham in his underwear was much more distracting.

  5. I think we’re seeing more companies crossing the line in terms of what’s tasteful and what’s not in order to attract consumers. I can’t believe what some companies are willing to try and what some publications are willing to print. Should ads with half-naked models be displayed where little kids can see them?

    When it comes to running an inappropriate or offensive ad in my publication, I guess it depends on what the readers will think. The last thing I want to do is drive away my readers by running advertisements that disgust them. Once you lose your readers’ trust, it’s nearly impossible to lure them back.

  6. If an ad gets your attention than it’s doing its job. Given this, I would need to be able to justify whether or not the attention the ad is calling for is right for my publication. If I was an editor for Cosmo then Calvin Klein’s ad would definitely be placed–for other publications like Redbook or Teen Vogue–that would be a no-go.

  7. In 8th grade, María, a girl from Spain, stayed with a friend of mine’s family. She brought along some magazine from home and the first thing we all noticed in the European fashion magazines?

    Boobs.
    Everywhere.

    As everyone keeps saying, this stuff really does depend on your audience. In Vegas, the stripper mobile will attract attention… and lots of customers. In Smalltown, Iowa? ….the vehicle wouldn’t be able to move because of all the people with Bibles and signs about family values blocking the way.

    If it was an appropriate way to get the attention of my target audience, I’d print the ad. If it was going to inspire the community to riot against my publication, of course not.

  8. All of your comments are greatly appreciated and they all seem to run with the same basic themes, ideas and principles. If it’s appropriate for the publication, then we’d probably print it. If not, then a definite no-go. This makes sense, of course.

    The “stripper-mobile,” as many of you have come to refer to it, is an extreme case of advertising at its worst (or best?). And, as Emily says, if it’ll fly anywhere, Vegas is that place. Thanks for the comments and happy blogging, friends!

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