Where's the Sexual Objectification for the Ladies?
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Critiquing advertising for objectifying women is a bit like shooting fish in a barrel. Recent campaigns from Axe, Tag, Hardee's, American Apparel and others have arguably taken the degradation of women to new lows. But a new NC-17 iPhone app for Pepsi's Amp soft drink takes the proverbial cake.
Need to find the nearest hotel to hook up with a married woman? Or maybe you need to hightail it to the closest thrift store to purchase a kitschy vintage lunchbox for an "Indie Girl." Thanks to Amp, now "there's an app for that." Perhaps if you're lucky, you'll use it to find the best pickup line for the treasured "Rebound Girl." And if you need to relate to "Punk Rock Girl" with an encyclopedic knowledge of bands to grace the stage at CBGB's, or charm the middle-aged "Cougar" with 70's pop culture references, you're all set.
Oh, and once your sexual conquest is complete, make sure to add the prey to your "Brag List."
Stay classy, Amp.
Taste and morality aside, I think this is a home-run branded utility with high talk value for the intended audience. The knuckle-dragging qualities of the Amp app are probably spot on for horny, undersexed 18 to 24-year-old men (or boys) getting amped on Amp and playing Halo in their dorm room or parents' basement.
Being the right message obviously doesn't make it right. And the app probably does more to perpetuate the stereotype that all men are locker-room-talkin' pigs than anything else. But while I question Pepsi's means to reaching its ends of more 18-24 males chuggin' Amp, critiquing the campaign is much too easy. It begs a more important question.
Women, hear me roar. Where's the sexual objectification for the ladies?
Diet Coke turned the tables on the advertising skin trade with its iconic Lucky Vanous spot. Even by today's standards, the spot sticks out for its gender role reversal. More recently, Dove's Real Beauty campaign and pioneering viral smash hit "Evolution" highlighted unrealistic portrayals of feminine beauty in advertising.
But very few brands have leveraged an edgy, role-reversing, modern portrayal of men as objects of desire. While entertainment media have embraced this theme in everything from Mona, Blanche and "Sex and the City" to "Desperate Housewives" and "Cougar Town," mainstream brand communications seem to lag behind the fundamental shift in cultural mores.
There is a clear white space in the market. And a potential opportunity for a brand that empowers women by turning the tables on sexual objectification in a compelling way. Sure, it might need to be a bit more subtle than the animalistic image accompanying this blog post. But it's an under-leveraged strategic and creative platform to simultaneously offer up meaningful social commentary, appeal to primal desires, and have a heck of a lot of fun with it.
Readers: What brands can you think of that are already doing this? Please post links to any of your favorite examples in the comments section.