On my first day of law school, I received a piece of advice that sticks with me today: if you don’t know, the answer is always “it depends.” In the world of advertising, the most common “easy answer” is “sexy.” If you can’t think of anything clever, just put a picture of a guy with six-pack abs, or a woman in a bikini in the ad. It works for burgers, cigarettes, clothes, deodorant, anything! Arguably the connection is stronger where the product involves beauty or attractiveness, like clothing and perfume, but most of these ads are a bit of a stretch.

A few months back, fellow Duets Blogger Brent discussed the unrealistic image of beauty created by modern advertising.  It certainly isn’t a new phenomenon, but societal definition of beauty have changed. Just a few decades ago magazines were telling women that they were too skinny. Regardless, advertisers have been relying on the “put a pretty lady in the ad” solution for years, like this ad for projectors from 1959. However, an ad released this week has been receiving a bit of global press for putting a new twist on the strategy:


Spoilers below the bump, so watch the video first. It’s Safe For Work, I promise.


The ad is starting to pick up some press around the world (Business Insider, Adweek, the Telegraph, etc.). It is part of Save the Children’s new media strategy of attempting to maximize their marketing efforts through creative and impactful viral videos, rather than spending money to purchase air time.  In another ad, the organization created a “second a day” video raising awareness for the suffering of children in Syria.

Whether these videos actually translate into greater donations, volunteer hours, or sustained awareness is the real question. The KONY 2012 viral marketing campaign (according to the International Business Times, the “most successful viral video in history”), had great success, but when was the last time you read a social media post regarding continued or new efforts to combat child soldiers in Africa?

And what kind of success can viral ads like these have for businesses selling actual products? Big Block Live, the production company behind “sexy models ad” above also created a widely-shared advertisement for Vitamin Water. It is a funny video, but I’m not convinced it’s a good advertisement. It may get shares on Facebook, but does it move product?

The Save the Children ad won’t change marketing strategies or body image issues. It isn’t intended to do so. It’s a reminder that even though there are a lot of great organizations out there doing wonderful things, some of the least exciting issues can have the biggest impact on the lives of the most vulnerable. The ad was released to coincide for Mother’s Day so, if you have a moment, here are two suggestions: 1) visit the Save the Children website, even if you don’t give money; and 2) don’t forget that it’s Mother’s Day on Sunday.

You’re welcome.