Unshy Advertising

I begin this post with the strongest disclaimer I have ever written.

If you are any of the following:

– Under 18.
– Of any familial relation to me, by blood or by law.
– One of my coworkers.
– A prude.
– Against pornography in any form.
– Unable to deal with strong language.
– At work, or school, or anywhere else you may lose your lot in life for reading the wrong links.

**You really should not read the rest of this post.** The post that follows will be discussing a fairly edgy advertising campaign and its implications on the world in general. While there is no direct link to the advertising site in question, there is certainly information on how to get there. If you decide to read the rest of the post, you agree to not hold me liable for any trouble reading it may bring you, especially if you decide to visit said site.

(I realize a warning like this is like the forbidden cigarette, where by telling someone repeatedly they cannot have something, they want it more. Trust me, friends, this is for your own good.)

Bill Hicks once had a bit that I’m going to paraphrase very badly:

>I’ll tell you about the advertising they want to do. Imagine this: ad starts, shot of a beautiful woman’s face. Camera zooms back, she’s topless. Zooms back a little farther, she’s totally naked. Zooms back a little farther, she’s got two fingers right there. She says nothing. And then the caption: DRINK COKE. I don’t know about you, but Coke’s suddenly high up on my shopping list.

Bill was, in so many ways, ahead of his time.

The advertising campaign that I have had to warn away so many people (who are probably still reading this, despite anything resembling good judgement) is one by [Shaiwear](, a European clothing company specializing in designer clothes and “human packing”. Their new summer catalog is entitled “Sexpacking”, and in an undoubtedly viral move, features three video catalogs. Labeled “Men Men”, “Women Men”, and “Women Women”, each catalog features about 5 minutes of hardcore pornography while allowing the viewer to freeze the movie at any time and get detailed information about the clothing featured within.

Again: I am not fucking around here. I do not want people hitting their site unless they’re absolutely clear on what they’re getting themselves into. As such, you are going to need to type the name of the campaign into your browser and add a `.com` at the end. Alternately, you can google for “sexpacking” and it’s undoubtedly still the top link.

For whatever it’s worth, I am not here to discuss the merits of the pornographic “performance”. I’m sure there are forums elsewhere where you can get that level of discussion.


## The Medium Is The Massage

It’s undeniable that the ad campaign is unique and leaves a lasting impression on the viewer. Even in a culture saturated with sexually charged advertising (remember the uproar about the AF catalog a few years back?), the Sexpacking campaign feels radically different because it’s pushed so far past the line that has been deeply drawn in the sand.

But still, even with such a “vivid” angle, the question undoubtedly pops into everyone’s mind: *is this really a good way to sell clothing?* After all, this is pornography – the clothes end up scattered and are ultimately unimportant.

At first, my immediate response to the question was “no”. I could see no rationale for the campaign other than to shock the viewer into remembering their name. But after pondering it some more, I found myself at the other end of the spectrum: how is this not a good way to sell clothing?

Consider: Many sexually charged ad campaigns are aimed solely at one orientation. This campaign covers all three bases. No matter which way you swing, this site is marketing to you.

Consider: The ad campaign “has legs”, in that it can continue to serve as usable advertising for a much longer period than traditional advertising. The viral nature of the campaign, combined with inevitable controversy about the content, will keep the ads spreading via word of mouth. (Obviously, I have bought in on this level.)

Consider: The ad is not only visually compelling, but technologically sound. Mousing over clothing items reveals a regular view of the item, with all of the information you’d expect to see in a regular catalog. Viewers are a single click away from converting into a purchase.

The only real flaw I can find is the message the campaign is trying to send is slightly nebulous and open to interpretation. Will you believe that Shai clothing will lead to you scoring? Will you merely take away that their clothing looks better on the floor than it does on you? Still, this is a minor complaint – many ad campaigns do not make sense thematically.

An aside: Among all the many surprising touches in the campaign (it certainly has a lot of polish), my favorite has to be that not only has the same track has been remixed three separate ways so that each video has a different feel, but that the tracks are readily available for download on the goodies page.