‘Easy’ Money – Feminists look away now

What is the weirdest platform for advertising that you’ve ever come across? One of the first ‘design’ books I bought was ‘Creative Advertising’, by Mario Pricken, and it is still one of my favourite to thumb through when I’m struggling for ideas and need some inspiration. Within its pages you’ll find groundbreaking ideas for the placement and implementation of advertising campaigns; however there is one, more recent technique, that wouldn’t be out of place in here. This week a new Japanese marketing technique has come to light in which women are given the opportunity to rent their legs out as advertising space.

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Now we all know that space in Japan is extremely valuable – with most of the country being mountainous, every area that can be transformed to an urban area has been and the affluence of the country means the cities are Japan’s hotspots. Buildings must be developed up rather than out and the Japanese are the leaders in making the most out of a small space. One brilliant example is this man who turned his 334ft apartment into 24 rooms through clever ways to change the spaces (see the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-iFJ3ncIDo).
So the clever people at Absolute Territory PR have developed and implemented the idea of hiring out body parts as a new, innovative place to advertise products and services. If you can read Japanese or work out how to translate the page, you can check out Absolute Territory at http://www.zettaipr.com/.

When considering ad placement, one has to consider how much exposure the ad is going to get – how many people are going to walk past, how many people are going to notice it and, of course, will the advertising platform be enough to make it memorable? Ambient advertising (advertising in the environment) is clearly much more interesting than a print ad on a billboard and ads that move around make the viewer subconsciously work harder to see it and glean all the information that the advertisement offers.
Absolute Territory have found a potentially controversial place to advertise, a place where they think a lot of people will be looking, and they may well be right!

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Giving companies a ‘leg-up’ on their competitors, advertising on the legs of young Japanese girls is a unique idea working from the idea that ‘sex sells’. However distasteful the idea may be, something a little bit risqué and naughty will attract people’s attention and be memorable, so maybe Absolute Territory are onto something; this strategy is reported to already be popular with Tokyo businesses and I’m going to guess more male orientated companies will be at the front of the queue to sign up.

The criteria for those interested in earning some extra money by attracting attention to a label on their legs is that they must be over 18 years old and be connected to ‘at least more than 20 people on some social network’.

The work sounds easy enough, a girl who is employed in this way will have the ad ‘stamped on their leg’ and then left to get on with their day. To be paid they must wear the ad for at least eight hours a day, and it is recommended that they dress in high socks and a miniskirt, for maximum attention to be drawn to the legs and, of course, the advert (although this is probably the secondary thing that people will notice).  Proof must be provided of advertising through posting photos of them ‘at work’ onto social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. It has been reported that around 1,300 girls are already registered to use their legs as ad space already, so is it just another easy way to earn some extra cash?

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Is this ethical practice though? On one side, this really is no different to a club promoting girls to stand around town or outside the club on a night out, wearing hotpants and a crop top emblazoned with the name of the establishment; the only difference is they are not advertising on their bare flesh. But those girls are still being paid to dress provocatively in order to attract customers, which is what Absolute Territory ask their girls to do in order to maximise exposure. But then dancers in clubs and, if we’re taking it to the extreme, prostitutes are also paid to sell their bodies in other ways, so where is the line? Models are also, to a lesser extent, paid for their bodies, although their advertising of clothes is focused on how the clothes are designed and hang from the body rather than the body being the first thing a person would notice.

What about looking at this from a feminist point of view? These girls are being paid to present their body as a thing to be looked at, a thing to provoke desire, even if it is for a product rather than the girl themselves. It’s clearly flattering to be desired but are these girls degrading themselves by presenting themselves as no more than a moving billboard?

On a lighter note, I’m not sure how Japanese advertising usually looks, but these advertisements on the girls’ legs often don’t seem obvious as to what they are. For example, if I walked past one of these girls in Leeds, I would probably assume that it was a tattoo rather than a ‘well-placed’ advertisement. Having said that though, I am a girl and wouldn’t pay too much attention to a scantily clad girl with an unsubtle tattoo on her upper thigh.

What do you think: Clever marketing or just another way to objectify young women?

How to give someone a mental breakdown, by NIVEA

What do you think of when someone says the word ‘Nivea’? Coming from the Latin word niveus/nivea/niveum, it literally means ‘snow-white’ and, doubtless, you would think of their calm and sensitively marketed skin-care products. Or you would have until now…

Nivea has just launched a new Stress Protect deodorant, and to market this new product, Felix and Lamberti advertising agency decided to employ the age-old technique of Schadenfreude – when pleasure is derived from the misfortune of others.

The appropriate way, Nivea decided, would be to literally stress out their target market to make a point. In a German airport, they targeted particular passengers in ‘the Stress Test’ by taking a sneaky photo and producing fake newspapers which labelled the passenger as a wanted suspect. They then place someone, with said newspaper, in plain view of the ‘suspect’ and wait for a reaction. Once they have this initial reaction, Nivea push it further by broadcasting an announcement describing the ‘suspect’s’ appearance and follow it up with a television broadcast on the airport screens.

So the ‘suspect’ is now being pointed at, people are moving away from them and muttering under their breath and they themselves are clearly on the edge of panicking, if they aren’t already. At this point, two security guards appear with a metal suitcase and walk up to the ‘suspect’ asking them whether they are stressed.
I’m not even joking when I say that watching the campaign video, I was stressed on behalf of this poor person, so I can’t even imagine how I would feel in their situation. I am pretty sure I would be having a full on breakdown at the point where everyone is looking at me as if I’ve killed someone and the embarrassment of being singled out, even once the metal suitcase is opened and the ‘suspect’ is presented with a Nivea Stress Protect deodorant, would be pretty intense.

There is a ‘happy ending’ to each person’s ordeal but the prank is played so well by all those around that, if I was in that position, I would not suspect it was a joke. In terms of marketing, this campaign is memorable and amusing… to an extent, once the tension has been relieved and the ‘suspect’ realises they haven’t actually done anything wrong.
Nivea’s prime aim is to drive the concept of their new product into the target market and allegedly checked with the friends of the ‘suspects’ to see whether “a brief moment of stress would be a problem’ for him/her. But, at the end of the day, not many of my friends have seen me under intense stress and I definitely wouldn’t be impressed if they’d put me in this situation. Although I can think of some friends who would react in a pretty funny way to something like this, I can almost guarantee that they wouldn’t thank me for putting them in that moment of shock and tension where you are being accused of god-knows-what in front of god knows how many people.

What do you think of Nivea’s ‘big prank’/ brand new marketing campaign? How would you react if you were put in this situation? I’m happy enough having a nervous laugh hundreds of miles away from the airport but, as a target of such a campaign…? I’m not so sure.

Time spent that otherwise might be forgotten

Is the title of a piece of textiles/photography work that I came across the other day, by artist Diane Meyer. On her website (http://www.dianemeyer.net) she says of this particular series:

‘This series is based on photographs taken at various points in my life and arranged by location. Sections of the images have been obscured through a layer of embroidered pixels sewn directly into the photograph. The embroidery deteriorates sections of the original photograph forming a new pixelated  layer of the original scene. The project refers to the failures of photography in preserving experience and personal history as well as the means by which photographs become nostalgic objects that obscure objective understandings of the past.’

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There were two things that struck me about this project:

  1. My personal interpretation
    I hold an interest in psychology and this project really made me think about her mention that photographs can ‘obscure objective understandings of the past’. My family is a big collector and creator of photo albums and, as a child, I used to love looking at the photos of when I was a baby or a toddler and asking who people were, what we were doing and where we were in those photos. The answers gave me a picture in my head that I held onto and, when looking back at the photographs years later, that picture came back to me and I started to think that I could actually remember when it was taken because the details had been relayed to me so many times in the past. 
    I’m not entirely sure of the science behind it but I think it is widely agreed that not many of us remember events before we are over the age of three so I started remembering times in my life that I would look at a photograph and think ‘I remember that’, when really all I remember is being told the details at some point. 
    As a young child (between the ages of one and two) I lived in Sierra Leone while my father was working as an ophthalmologist in Freetown, there are a few albums taken while we were out there and there is one photo that I remember specifically and that is of me helping our housekeeper, Moses, to do the laundry in a big red tub outside. 
    I have seen that photo so many times and asked so many questions about it that I feel like I can remember being there, when the reality is that I can’t; if my parents mentioned another event that hadn’t been recorded through the camera lens but happened around the same time, I would have no idea what they were talking about. Anyway, I’m definitely rambling on now so I will leave it at that.
  2. The contrast between the two mediums
    This caught my eye because of how the outcomes appear at first glance or if seen from a distance. The beauty of them, for me, is that your brain automatically fills in the pixelated/ embroidered gaps so that you can make sense of the photograph without having to see it in great detail to begin with.

JCDB x

Keeping Britain British!

This morning I saw an article on the Guardian website responding to a claim that the UK Government has been considering the use of an ad campaign to deter immigrants from coming to the UK (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/jan/27/uk-immigration-romania-bulgaria-ministers); the paper then asked for creative suggestions for what readers thought would put people off moving to our country. With so many advantages to living in the UK (more benefit money than you’d earn on a minimum wage, the NHS, menial jobs that we lazy Brits won’t stoop to etc etc), many people have highlighted the most commonly complained about aspects of our society, with comical results.

Before you see the images, I would first like to say that I am not posting these as an example of good design as they’re definitely not as polished or well put together as the work I am expected to produce on my course – instead I am highlighting the clever copywriting.

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Despite being in a different language, Matt Murphy describes his piece being ‘self explanatory’. The poster implies that Britain is sinking, whether under the weight of the people in it or because of the rain, no-one wants to come to a country where being underwater is a standard. Design-wise, this is my favourite due to fairly even typesetting and layout and simple graphics, it is also reminiscent of crisis posters which would attract people to help the country, but not necessarily to visit it.

ImageAn interesting way of provoking sympathy for us Brits through the prevalance of rubbish on our streets. Where I live (a student street in all fairness) there is rubbish everywhere, on the pavements, in the road, even by our front door when people decide to throw rubbish over the hedge separating us from the pavement. Cities, in general, are littered with empty drinks cartons, cigarettes, paper and packaging – generally not a pleasant environment to be in. By highlighting this, Emily Sorenson, has evoked an interesting sense of repulsion for the environment in which we live and sympathy for our children who grow up here.Image

Storm clouds, whether metaphorical or physical, are never a good sign. As Brits, we are used to complaining about the weather but a grey sky is a common sight that most of us don’t even consider unless it’s whether we need to take an umbrella to Uni with us or not. Clever use of well-known lyrics and imagery by Lee Jackson.

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I love the irony in this piece by Ian Douglas; potential immigrants may hear from those who are already here how much of a good deal it is to live in Britain, but the reality is that the areas in which they will live, if they come here to search for a job/ live off benefits, will not be nice areas (you all know the kind of places I’m talking about). Clever image choice to go with the copy.

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Clare Cooney integrates politics and our unreliable public transport system with clever copy which I believe a lot of Brits could relate to. To an outsider, this highlights the unphotogenic nature of the people we put in power/ their ability to look like morons in public and the fact that, if you don’t own a car or live near enough to the places you would need to be, then it’s hard to say whether you’ll be anywhere on time (as demonstrated when 6″ of snow stopped most of the country’s public transport last week).

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Andrew Campbell-Howes highlights our issues as a country with interesting typography. Not unlike the BBC news, he mentions everything that is wrong with us as a nation – I particularly liked the more comical additions such as ‘the Daily Mail’ and ‘drugs with stupid names’. This is probably my favourite from the entries published.

If only political correctness didn’t exist to ruin our fun.

JCDB x