Author

Leslie Savan

Sex sells

After the storm over Stroh’s’ ”ironic” beer spots starring the mammary glands of the Swedish Bikini Team, the ad world was predicting yet another wave of libidoless ads. But instead, perhaps trying to recession-proof themselves, many advertisers are only turning the heat back up. The only difference is now they’ve found savvier ways to sell the same old thing: S-E-X.

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Political commercials

It may come as a surprise that the same fervid folks who made the most notorious political ad of recent years — the 1988 Willie Horton spot — also made a commercial against ex-Klansman/Nazi David Duke, who ran unsuccessfully for governor of Louisiana last month. ”Do you know how many jobs are going to leave Louisiana and come to Texas if Duke is elected?” a Texas cowboy gloated in the spot. ”Hot damn!”

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Benetton's latest ad campaign

Is all the press that Benetton has garnered over its bad-boy ads amounting to one big, free commercial? Catholics, African-Americans, and others have protested the pricey clothier’s latest ads, which include pictures of a nun and a priest kissing, and a little white girl who looks angelic with a little black boy whose hair is combed like a devil’s horns. Even some magazines hard-pressed for ad dollars have refused to run them. All of which means that Benetton is getting more free publicity than its money couldn’t buy (including right here, right now).

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Big screen product placements

The joke used to be that everyone and his grandmother was writing a screenplay. Now everyone is reading screenplays — searching for scenes where they can plug a brand name product. The Pentax camera a tourist will carry in Terminator 2, the Firestone tires in Thelma & Louise, and, yes, the Entertainment Weekly in Soapdish — have all been placed into the movies as a subtle, some would say almost subliminal, form of advertising. Even the U.S. Postal Service has hired a product placement agency to do the Hollywood thing.

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Supermarket marketing

There’s at least one way to make sure that viewers watch commercials — stick the screen right in their faces. So goes the thinking behind VideOcart — a laptop-size video screen that, attached to the handles of shopping carts, brings the fruit of Madison Avenue to your produce aisle. The concept is Big Brother meets Nintendo, and it may be coming soon to a supermarket near you.

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Commercials aimed at Baby Boomers

People over 40 are allowed to have a sexual edge in the movies (witness Jane Fonda, Glenn Close, Jack Nicholson) and in TV shows (J.R. is now cheating with women his own age). But in TV commercials, 40ish folks have been more likely to find fun in fiber than in flirting. In the ’90s, however, as many of the 77 million-strong baby boomers navigate their 40s (the first boomers hit 45 this year), we may see more ads on the order of the new campaign for Taster’s Choice.

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Rolling Stones songs in advertising

When I’m watchin’ my TV/And that man comes on to tell me/How white my shirts can be/Well he can’t be a man ‘cause he doesn’t smoke the same cigarettes as me.” The Rolling Stones song ”(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” once took shots at advertising, but now a version is advertising. The 1965 No. 1 hit can be heard on a new TV commercial for Snickers, played by studio musicians. The candy bar, which for years has used the slogan ”Snickers Satisfies,” wanted ”Satisfaction” — badly.

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Animated films from American Express

Now that audiences’ boos have nearly chased commercials from movie screens, how can a company camouflage its ads there? American Express thinks it finally has the boo-proof answer: Show animated shorts followed by a flash of the company’s slogan.

Since Labor Day, AmEx has run a series of short films before each movie on every one of Cineplex Odeon’s 1,690 screens. In Luxo Jr., a parent lamp taught a baby lamp how to play ball. Now showing is Quasi Maestro, in which Claymation figures goof up a holiday carol.

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