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To be sexy, or not to be sexy in PR, marketing and advertising?

Sexy PR(Photo: Flickr Creative Commons – free-stock)

I’ve heard it a million times before: “one of my biggest challenges in PR is the fact that my product isn’t sexy enough to grab attention.”

In a world where sex sells, it’s not surprising that tire manufacturers put bikini-clad models on their product advertisements and even domain name providers have sexual innuendos in their commercials, the most infamous of which is Go Daddy.

The most recent Go Daddy commercials teased a nude NASCAR driver Danica Patrick and fitness coach Jillian Michaels—but does the advertising go too far? Does it overshadow the product? Does the commercial have anything to do with the product itself? In recent discussions on Twitter, it was made apparent that some people didn’t even know what some of the Super Bowl XLV commercials were trying to sell because of the over-zealous humor and sexual appeal. So where do you draw the line?

I chuckled when @cathywebsavvypr pointed me to a release that slipped under my radar on—Network Solutions parodied Go Daddy with their own ad, featuring Cloris Leachman as Go Granny—hilarity ensued. This subtle retaliation to the sexually-charged advertising industry makes a valid point: maybe sometimes we should be serious about promoting our business, in order to keep our product credibility intact and avoid offending our audience.

“With a little bit of creativity and the support of an online community, we’re letting the masses know that as a company we like to have some fun, but when it comes to our customers, we take their business seriously,” said Network Solutions in the release concerning the parody. Lisa Stone, co-founder and CEO of BlogHer Inc., a client of Network Solutions chimed in: “Who better than the talented Cloris Leachman to poke fun at the idea that tight leather jackets deliver the best websites?”

Here are some tips for preserving your brand integrity during your PR, advertising and marketing efforts, and keeping just the right level of “sexiness” using analysis of the success of Super Bowl XLV ads:

1)      Celebrities might not be your best bet when it comes to advertising: if it’s not relevant to the storyline, why have them? Their credibility is diminished because the brand may pay a celeb for their appearance; consumers are more likely to listen to their friends recommendations and make purchases through simple word of mouth.

2)      Place someone in your advertising that identifies with your target audience: people generally trust other people who are like themselves. Sure, beautiful models may get attention, but will it get him to purchase whatever that product may be? This year’s most successful Super Bowl ads were performed by every day citizens, not international icons.

3)      Focus on the demographic that closely represents what your target audience is comprised of: Go Daddy highlighted the male 21-25 year old demographic that is encapsulated by beauty. What about highlighting the demographic of males and females ages 18-45 that have serious domain hosting needs for a personal small business and that need low pricing/lots of space?

4)      Highlight the strong suits of your business: flaunt how your product tastes better than competitors and is chosen more in taste tests; show off how when your product drops on cement, it won’t scratch or crack; point out what you offer that others can’t.

5)      Creativity still counts: catch attention with popular music, vivid imagery or graphic design in your PR, marketing or advertising efforts. Write a hook that when read or heard a loud, make people want to see more.

6)      Keep it relevant: if your target audience is full of tech-junkies, don’t force your information in places that target nature-lovers. It’s an obvious rule but you’d be surprised at how irrelevant news pops up in blog comments and forums that have nothing to do with the topic at hand.

7)      Be persuasive! Always answer the questions of who, what, where, when and most importantly WHY? Consumers need a reason to buy—how does it benefit them or make their lives better?

What do you think about being sexy in PR? How do you make your product sexy, or how do you forgo the sexy approach and still sell?

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like: HOW TO: Garner Top Tier Media Attention for your Small Biz

About Cision Contributor

This post was written by a guest Cision contributor.

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