On Monday morning, as I was preparing for my usual online workout routine, I pressed “play” on a video I have used several times knowing that I would have time to finish my tea while the pre-video ad played through. As I sipped the last of my tea, I half-noticed that I hadn’t seen this particular Slim-Fast spot before. I was mid-way through rolling my eyes at the obvious placement of a diet drink ad before an exercise video when I heard the words: “reverse cowgirl with the lights on.”
Unsure whether I had heard correctly, I started to pay closer attention. Sure enough, the monologue continued, “Just once when I’m twisted up like a Russian gymnast, I’d like to actually look like a Russian gymnast.” The words that display on the screen at the end of the ad say, simply, “Get What You Really Want. Slim-Fast.”
What you really want, this ad assumes, is to look good naked:
While it’s true that we’d all love to look hot in our birthday suits, I couldn’t help feeling a bit annoyed at the commercial’s exploitation of the common insecurity that women do not (and should not) feel comfortable with our sexuality until we reach some unattainable beauty ideal. I did, however, really like the fact that the woman’s husband is clearly interested in reverse cowgirl with this lovely wife, no matter her size. And I did get a little chuckle at the end when the woman, presumably on the phone with her mother, says, “Cowgirl. Look it up, Mom.”
Once I had stepped down from my over-analytical feminist soapbox, though, something else occurred to me: this was pretty mature stuff and, unlike other ads intended for mature audiences that I’ve encountered online, there was nothing preceding the ad that verified my age or warned of adult content.
Upon visiting Sim-Fast’s website, I found that this ad is part of a larger campaign centered around the idea of getting what consumers really want. According to the spots that includes: wowing former classmates at a reunion, being the hottest MILF on the block and, yes, unabashedly performing reverse cowgirl with the lights on. The videos are presented as being rated “PG, R, and NC-17” in that order. The site urges visitors to “sneak a peak”, asking, “which will you choose to watch first? Nice or Naughty?”
All in all, it’s pretty clever and, to be honest, pretty accurate. But while we don’t generally consider ourselves puritanical or prudish, we do think there’s a difference (especially when we start talking about the all-important PR word “accountability”) between allowing customers to choose to watch an ad that is admittedly adult-oriented, and having it pop up without warning before an online video, which could be viewed by anyone of any age group. We wouldn’t expect to see the “reverse cowgirl” ad during a 3:00 pm commercial break on TV without the FCC receiving a few complaints, so we are wondering: how different are the rules of TV advertising and digital advertising?