Billboards are meant to catch your attention. Is there any reason why this Calvin Klein billboard in SoHo, NYC would not catch your attention? Of course it catches your attention! It’s got 4 people who are all about to burst with sexual energy. I mean, the girl’s already topless, and the guy on the ground has his jeans unbuttoned. Is this scene depicting an upcoming threesome? Or maybe a forgy? This billboard was not only going after attention – in my opinion, this Calvin Klein billboard was meant to shock people.
I am not offended by this image. I am not here to tell you about how America is going to hell in a handcart. I am here to tell you that sexual ads like this do not even phase me any more. I believe advertising is what makes us do 99% of the things that we do. However, I cannot remember a time when a sexually-charged billboard made me go out and purchase a pair of jeans. Maybe this ad is for girls. Maybe it’s for guys. Maybe it’s targetted equally at heterosexual and homosexual men and women. I don’t know. What I do know is that, when it comes to my buying habits, I prefer less shocking advertising. I don’t want to see a hot naked lady playing a Gibson Flying V electric guitar. I just want to see the guitar. Adding all the other superflous detail and scenario context – well, it only makes me feel like I’m being marketed to. Like someone is targetting my demographic. Once I get that feeling, I’m more likely to walk away. I’ll keep my money, you marketing jerks.
Even with apathy to this type of marketing, I have to hand it to the marketing team at Calvin Klein. This billboard is just what America craves: controversy. It’s exploitation. It’s sex used in advertising and marketing. Whatever. But America will jabber about this for hours. And because America is so divided politically and culturally, this billboard will likely get approval from half of America and disapproval from the other half. Or maybe there are a ton of people like me who could really care less. However, I do care enough to blog about it, and that is why this shock marketing works: it’s about generating buzz for brand exposure. Well done, Calvin Klein. In terms of brand awareness and brand exposure, this was a brilliant ad. Maybe it will pay off for you.