Sex appeal under wraps at Wonderbra?

Enter alt description text hereWhile Wonderbra’s new advertising campaign disappointingly still shows perfect models, the company’s shift towards displaying them fully clothed to get across the benefits of the product is admirable (MW last week).

However, for Hervé Bailly, the marketing director of Wonderbra, to attack other brands during the launch is blatantly cynical, not to mention hypocritical. To try to defend the world-famous “Hello Boys” campaign in the same breath is simply ludicrous. OK, I’m probably looking at it from a more down-to-earth point of view – I’m currently plying my trade at a direct agency, and a northern one at that. But it’s a bloody good agency and we can sniff out marketing bull when it rears its whiffy head.

As Hervé says: “Marketing that is designed to appeal to men rather than the end-user is wrong, weak and demeans women.” Fair enough – I’d always recommend targeting the end-user, but to say the “Hello Boys” ads were not targeted at men is an insult to common sense. Take a look at the headline for a start and if you want further proof, ask how many of the drivers of the resultant pranged cars were heterosexual males.

To add injury to the aforementioned insult, Hervé then suggests that the oh-so immaculate and pneumatic Eva Herzigova actually empowered women at the time. What, with nothing to offer but a large pair of mammaries? No brains (in the ad, not the head), no thought, no cleverness – just good old-fashioned sex. To say a woman is empowered just because she looks in complete control of a situation is not empowering – it’s what many men would want to see anyway.

The choice of shot to accompany this story isn’t cracking either. If Wonderbra is now using shots of fully clothed women to display how the underwear enhances their appearance, don’t show the lovely ladies in question ruining the line by sitting down or coyly hiding behind unfeasibly good-looking blokes.

The shot on page 35 is better – a no-nonsense display of what the product can do for you. You could, of course, go one step further to get across how the benefit of the product makes you feel, but then in an above-the-line campaign, you’re toying dangerously with marketing bull again.

Which is where a direct campaign comes into its own – you get the chance to nail all the product benefits and their resultant effects. And if you’ve got the right agency on board, you’ll hopefully do it with the backing of a bit of substance rather than marketing waffle.

The “Hello Boys” ads were great at the time from a brand point of view, in terms of raising Wonderbra’s profile. But come on Hervé, if anyone can tell me how they empowered women, I’d be glad to know. And remember, our sense of smell up here is very keen.

Larner Caleb

Creative director

The Black Hole

Leeds

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