Wednesday, November 06, 2013


Don’t Use Sexy to Sell Me a Pair of Shoes

The actor swirls around in a clingy dress wearing stilettos. Viewers even see her naked calves hanging over the side of a white bathtub, her feet wrapped in stylish heels. In another scene with no seeming inhibitions, the actor dances with allurement. Oh yes, and there’s a man in the commercial. He has a glint in his eye or is that a leer.
            See, there’s the problem. The utmost thing this commercial said was that shoes attract a man. Do they keep your feet dry? Are they supportive? Do they hold up fallen arches? I don’t know because all I really saw was the flashy image of an alluring female and skyscraper shoes.             I’m skeptical. The ad implies that shoes draw a man’s interest. I want proof. I want to see a thick curtain and behind it women’s clad feet shown from the ankle down. I want to see men picking a woman by just seeing her feet. Would any man really point to a set of feet, “Yeah Baby! I choose her.”

            I’m confused. In the current ad on TV, are they selling shoes or sexy?

            I suppose some truth lies in the commercial. Fellows do like high heels. At least mine does. I like to wear them for him since there’s a foot difference in our heights. It’s nice to be nearer to his face for a little impromptu kissing should the urge hit. But then we’re not prone to overt public displays of affection, and, no, I don’t wear heels to bake potatoes at home.

            In the above paragraph, I meant to put “truth” and “lies” right next to each other in the first sentence because that’s what so many television ads do. They serve up a product or brand logo with illusions:  Sunglasses at night will cut headlight glare; cat litter makes your house smell tidy not feline; fake butter tastes like real butter; burn belly fat while eating ice cream.

            Some advertisers do practice some truth in advertising, and look how their taglines have caught on: “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” And, plenty of Americans know that “the best part of wakin’ up” is coffee in the cup, whether it’s Folgers or not. Astute advertisers know their audiences. On the old reruns of family safe TV shows and movies, a staggering array of ads geared toward senior citizens fill in the gaps between show scenes: cereals with fiber, burial insurance, and a medicine cabinet full of cures, plus those for motorized scooters and reverse mortgages touted by Fonzie of “Happy Days.”

            Whoa. I’d better stop. You don’t want to hear about the “happy days” of reversing a reverse mortgage. All I can say is when our family paid off a parents’ reverse mortgage the interest rates and fees were stiletto. And it took half of their investments to buy back their home worth five times what the mortgage company had loaned. You get the picture. Don’t believe everything you hear hawked by the makers of a product.

            Now, back to feet and shoes. I long for truth in advertising. I’d rather see a foot with a bunion and then the happy face of a senior woman when she finally gets a comfortable pair of shoes fitted to her feet—granny shoes are good ‘cause at some time most women will have granny feet. I long to see beach shoes covering the soles of young feet keeping them from the burning sand, or even snazzy shoes on teens going to a high school football game. Just give me a real scenario without the sexual innuendoes.

            I’m not naïve, I know that advertisers think if sexy is present at least the males pay attention to the ad. And the feminist notice and other women who are offended by ads using the female body to sell products. But PR firms have also thrown in their share of hunks to lure women: from yogurt to pizza to floor cleaners, they give us glimpses of brawny men along with mops and buckets.  

            One of the newer Skittles candy commercials showed a girl kissing a boy who smiled and had Skittles in place of his teeth. Some of the Skittles were missing after the kiss—the tagline “French the rainbow. Taste the Rainbow.” After complaints Wrigley, makers of Skittles, changed the line to “Kiss the rainbow. Taste the rainbow.” Their change is somewhat admirable (after a parent alarm went off), but their original appeal to sixth grade boys has costs them some longtime purchasers, who say they’ll never buy Skittles again.

            Back to shoes and all other ads, please, tell us about the product. Use humor, jingles, facts, characters, or metaphor but please know we’re not fools who will swallow anything you set before us.

            From Buzzle.comDavid Ogilvy wrote in his book, Confessions of an Advertising Man, ‘The consumer isn't a moron. She is your wife.’ Whenever you take a look at different advertising techniques and those examples that you would like to use in order to design your own advertising strategies, keep in mind this little tip from Mr. Ogilvy. After all he is not called the father of modern advertising for no reason.”

            So really, you want me to buy a pair of women’s shoes because you showed me stilettos and naked calves draped over the side of a bathtub. Do I look like a moron? All I’m asking is for truth in advertising and don’t use sexy to sell me a pair of shoes.

                 

           

    

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