Published On: Tue, Apr 24th, 2012

Starlets as living advertising platforms

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WARNING: Explicit photos NSFW. Neuroscientists tell us that “sex and food” are the two things that make us happy. Even the sheer thought about either two has an instant effect on our mood. Marketers, of course, know this too and have been using sex especially as a potent stimulant to sell about anything humans have ever produced. Sex sells. They know it, you know it.

The Super Seven Incher

The marketing industry has introduced about any method to incorporate sex in advertising imaginable; from subliminal ‘sexual graphics’ to bikini clad models promoting bicycles or hamburgers. They’ve done, we’ve seen it.

Paris Hilton for Carl's Jr. Hamburgers

While the use of subliminal graphics didn’t really work out too well the use of scantly dressed women is still a favorite. But with the arrival of the social web, and the ever increasing struggle for ‘awareness’ and ‘publicity’ in our over consuming media culture it is increasingly difficult to stick a product into the consumer’s head.

How subtile..

Traditional advertising is hardly working anymore unless we’re able to add a ‘buzz’, make our message go ‘viral’, or spin a little ‘scandal’ like being banned from a TV-network or magazine. Unless you revert to the entertainment industry and use their new advertising platform; the starlet, the socialite, the ‘reality TV star’. The young celebs that are so hungry for attention that they are prepared to do almost anything to score a few headlines and backed by an industry that no longer is interested in talent but exploits living advertising platforms ready to sell your product at editorial pages. Who needs advertising pages when you can have a starlet promoting your product on the front page?

There are numerous brands that make use of these platforms one of which is Smartwater; a bottled water with some added ‘extra’s’. It was Smartwater who was aiming for a viral last year with the alleged Jennifer Aniston sex-tape. (see video below) The video managed to gain some ‘buzz’, but it hardly went viral.

Ashley Tisdale for Smartwater

Amber Heard for Smartwater

Nevertheless, ever since we see countless ‘talents’ strolling the streets billboarding their bottle of Smartwater. And especially for a society like the U.S. that adores their celebs and represents a bottled water market of 500 million sold bottles every week that’s a smart move and accomplishment.

But it doesn’t create a ‘buzz’. Neither does it go ‘viral’. And for a product that is one of the most unnecessary of the Western world, so much that it considers tap water as its biggest enemy, celeb billboarding alone, although very useful, won’t do.

Christina Perri for Smartwater

So, it’s no surprise Smartwater took their celeb billboarding one step further. This time it wasn’t Jennifer Aniston with an alleged ‘sex-tape’ that turned out to be anything but a ‘sex-tape’, but they hired Miley Cyrus and got her to deliver the ‘fantasy’ and the headlines and online buzz.

Miley Cyrus' product delivery for Smartwater for the prudent publisher

Miley set up the campaign in front of her Pilates studio where after her work out she quickly slipped in (or should I say ‘out’) a tiny black dress as a perfect prop to very publicly and openly slide into her convertible carrying her Smartwater bottle. The paparazzi did what they were expected to do and within 24 hours the Smartwater campaign was copied over countless websites and social networks. Mission accomplished.

Miley Cyrus' product delivery for Smartwater. Buzz and Viral shot

This wasn’t the first time Miley Cyrus used her naked assets to set up a campaign btw. She did the same format for Tesla Cars where she slipped out of her undies when the paparazzi arrived and slipped back into modesty when they left.

Miley Cyrus Tesla Roadster shoot

Miley Cyrus' product delivery for Tesla

And Miley isn’t the only ‘talent’ that uses ‘voyeurism’ to promote a product. We’ve seen it before, and we will see it again. The question only being; what will be the next line to cross? Sex-tapes start to backlash and up skirt photography is getting old too. So what’s next? Completely naked appearances? Well, we’re almost there.. Or do we grow up and stop buying into this type of marketing? Or what?

Here’s the Jennifer Aniston “sex-tape” ad for Smartwater:

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About the Author

- As a creative strategist I work on complex (digital) communications issues for international industry leading companies, organizations and agencies. I'm interested in how technology integrates with (and influences) traditional marketing, media, human behavior, society and culture.

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