Sex doesn’t always sell

Age-old campaigns no longer work on customers who want to feel their money is going to a good cause

Topics: BUSINESS2COMMUNITY, Advertisements, marketing, ethical branding, ad campaigns, , , ,

Sex doesn't always sell Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty

Consumers like to know that their money is going to a good place. Buzzwords like fair trade and eco friendly, or a company that donates 5% of their revenue to a good cause – it all sounds great from a marketing standpoint. Consumers want to buy products that are doing good things for the world, or for pet causes that interest them.

What ethics means for marketing

Let’s look at what ethics mean in terms of marketing. For many people, ethics are about innate feelings about what is right or wrong. For others, right and wrong are ordained by their religious beliefs. For most people, practicing good ethics means that in their view, they are following the law and what it requires. Many people don’t actually know how to define ethics for themselves.

What it all boils down to is that in marketing, philosophical definitions of ethics don’t really apply – it comes down to human standards and how people feel about where their money goes. For a lot of people, it’s not just about knowing that their money is going to make a difference. It’s also about making a personal statement. If someone only buys fair trade coffee, you can bet that person is taking an individual stand, and they’re going to make it known.

What consumers are buying into

When it comes to advertising, some of the age-old marketing campaigns simply aren’t working anymore, and this is because consumers have new priorities. As it turns out, sex doesn’t sell at this juncture – not like it used to. “Bad boy” type commercials for products like alcoholic beverages or certain types of food are, at this juncture, a little outrageous, and it shows. A lot of companies are turning to more refined, “classier” kinds of advertisements for the same products.

Let’s look at one particular campaign: Dove’s famous Campaign for Real Beauty, where the entire run of ads focuses on models of all shapes and sizes whose photos are minimally retouched. Dove refers to this campaign as a “social mission,” revolving it around “listening to women” to make people feel more confident about their body types. For a lot of women, that meant that they felt like a high-end corporation was listening to them. Dove did something right.

Of course, fair trade and real beauty alone are not going to cut it. Marketing has to focus on quality in addition to buying into a good cause. Companies like Starbucks have invested in being more socially and environmentally conscious, which means they also have to keep up their reputation for making great quality coffee!

What brands do you think of in terms of ethical branding? Does your business subscribe to any ethical guidelines?

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Burger King Japan

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.

    Elite Daily/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    McDonald's Black Burger: Because the laws of competition say that once Burger King introduces a black cheeseburger, it's only a matter of time before McDonald's follows suit. You still don't have to eat it.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Arby's Meat Mountain: The viral off-menu product containing eight different types of meat that, on second read, was probably engineered by Arby's all along. Horrific, regardless.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.

    Michele Parente/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Boston Pizza's Pizza Cake: The people's choice winner of a Canadian pizza chain's contest whose real aim, we'd imagine, is to prove that there's no such thing as "too far." Currently in development.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    7-Eleven's Doritos Loaded: "For something decadent and artificial by design," wrote one impassioned reviewer, "it only tasted of the latter."

  • Recent Slide Shows


Loading Comments...