We don’t remember exactly how we came across this article, as our days are long and we’re getting on in years. So please forgive us if we’re blatantly stealing your excellent find. And that find is this article by Magnus Jakobsson, a copywriter at Saatchi & Saatchi (whose tagline is “When one Saatchi just won’t do!”). The piece is called Sex is Dead! Great News!” and it’s all about getting over a) nudity for nudity’s sake and b) perceived-explotative nudity in order to make people think, while also encouraging them to buy ridiculously expensive things. Before you start throwing rocks and calling this writer a prude, take a read and realize that he’s got some really fascinating things to say. And although his focused example is photographer Terry Richardson, it can apply to so, so many campaigns. First one that came to mind was that awful look American Apparel has cultivated by Richardson-look-alike, Dov Charney. Every time we see their print ads, usually full-page on the back of The Onion and Time Out, we get upset. They’re selling sex, like everyone else, but in the least appealing way possible. Their ads look like you’ve accidentally stumbled upon a shoebox full of photos your creepy neighbor took before he was arrested for imprisoning people in his basement. They’re expanding like crazy, so something must be working, but geez, this writer just doesn’t get it. With that in mind, here’s a bit from Jakobsson:
Jerry Seinfeld once said: There’s good naked. And then there’s bad naked. A saying that goes for advertising as well. Good naked is basically just naked. And if you think naked is wrong, you need to get your head checked. Seriously, get your head checked immediately.
Bad naked on the other hand, is when good naked is exploited. The self proclaimed master of bad naked is photographer Terry Richardsson, always trying to provoke us with his ever so boring Sisley-ads; advertising that tries so hard to provoke us it’s bound to fail. Advertising that just screams: LOOK, A TEEN-RAPE IS BEING PORTRAYED HERE! ISN’T IT TERRIBLE!? Advertising that isn’t actually advertising anything else but controversy itself. Sure, it causes a strong reaction, but only that of disgust. The provocation itself is so provocative it makes the brand disappear into a deep brown fog.