Hunky Dory’s risque advertising campaign is just the latest to prove that sex sells.
In 1994’s Wonderbra promotion, Eva Herzigova was seen on billboards around the UK, looking very fetching in her underwear and mouthing the textbook come-on ‘Hello boys’.
Lots of boys in their cars paid attention, one or two actually crashing their vehicles as they took in the medium and the message.
Of course, the brand benefited, as it always does, however negative the publicity, with Wonderbra reportedly shifting one of their lacy items every 15 seconds.
Sophie Dahl appeared naked in a super-suggestive pose in 2000 promoting Yves Saint Laurent’s perfume Opium.
The heady scent of success went off somewhat when, after a record 730 complaints that the image was degrading, the Advertising Standards Authority ruled that the image had to be withdrawn.
Then there was the too real ad, such as Benetton’s rather tasteless picture of a man dying of Aids in February 1992. What on earth had this to do with a fashion label known for its perky knits?
Nothing much, except that it supposedly illustrated Benetton’s social conscience and concern for the human race, with the Italian-owned company claiming that “The image of a man dying of AIDS, surrounded by his family, shows the terryfying sight of a body devasted by the HIV virus....(it’s) a way to denounce the dangers of AIDS”.
The recent Dove soap campaign featuring real women has also proved too realistic for some tastes.
One billboard showing the group shot of normal women with normal figures allowed viewers to vote them ‘fat’ or ‘fab’. Initially, the public was impressed — or polite — and voted ‘fab’, but the judgement quickly moved to ‘fat’, to the chagrin of the manufacturers.
There has also been criticism of Dove over its production of a skin lightening cream, which doesn’t exactly promote diversity.
Politicians have also commissioned controversial ads, including the Tory’s infamous Tony Blair ‘Demon Eyes’ campaign devised by Saatchi in 1996.
The Advertising Standards Authority found Mr Blair had been shown in a dishonest and sinister way and asked for the advert to be withdrawn. Ironically in January 1997 it was hailed at the best of the year by Campaign, the weekly journal of the advertising industry.