The sexiest zoo you'll see this week

Orangina's controversial new ad features pole-dancing deer and lascivious zebras.

Published August 26, 2008 2:30PM (EDT)

Orangina. Maybe you've heard of it. It's an effervescent beverage, sold in my neck of the woods alongside Perrier and Limonata. The new French-based ad for Orangina is creating controversy in Britain, where the drink is about to be launched. (Small excerpt on the outrage: "Orangina is a drink which is mainly aimed at children and young people, but this new advert places the product in a very sexualized and provocative context.") I asked our Broadsheet writers, along with a few men on Salon's staff, to respond to the mind-addling ad, which you'll find below. It's possibly NSFW -- especially if you work in Narnia:

Kate Harding: Offended? Not really. Disturbed to my very core? Yes. I'm going to have nightmares about those zebra legs.

James Hannaham: Gadzooks! I believe I just saw inside the mind of a psychotic 14-year-old plushie! I'm not as shocked by the tacky, sexist (and not at all sexy) images -- Woman as doe? Come on! -- as I am by the insane gusto with which it was all concocted. Really, at some point there was actually a bunch of Orangina execs in a room saying, "The bear spills the product on the ground ... and it makes flowers grow! Fantastic! The stripper is an octopus, and she gives the bear a lap dance! Amazing!" The high degree of artifice also destroys the message that the product is "natural." For example, it's male peacocks that have the plumage, so we're looking at a chorus of drag queen birds. The makers of the commercial also seem to have overlooked the fact that Orangina, when spilled from above onto a pole-dancing-dancer in a "Flashdance" reference, looks like pee, which is gross. At least to me. I think in this case children don't need to be protected from the sexual content as much as the bad taste.

Lynn Harris: For grown-ups, other than Furry enthusiasts: Creepy and unappealing. For kids: Yeah, no, sorry, too much. It's like what I call the Hooters defense ("But it's a family restaurant!"). Here: "But it's not a naked lady, it's a naked panda!" Nice try. Pass the Moxie.

Catherine Price: For the most part, I am speechless -- though I did enjoy the Telegraph's description of shots of Orangina bottles "exploding between the thighs of zebras and squirting on to the breasts of other animals." That has never been my experience while drinking Orangina. Am I doing something wrong?

Page Rockwell: Whoa, Nelly. I sort of want to wash my eyes after watching this weirdo jungle lambada, but not because of the pole-dancing flamingo. It's the bustier-wearing doe and interspecies action that leave me queasy -- quit anthropomorphizing the (cartoon) animals! But at the end of the day, it's just a silly ad; I don't think the children need to be shielded from a Speedo-wearing bear. The children's charity Kidscape disagrees; the Telegraph quotes a spokesperson saying the ad is irresponsible because Orangina is marketed to children, but since the drink is not overtly or exclusively a product for kids, that argument strikes me as shaky. If the ad showed Orangina being splashed across Big Bird's feathery thighs, maybe I could understand the concern. As it is, I think the "think of the children!" argument is better deployed when companies use cartoon animals to promote products that clearly aren't kid-friendly (see Joe Camel).

Vincent Rossmeier: While my initial reaction was less outrage than revulsion at the idea of being covered in sticky orange sugar water (it's taking every ounce of self-restraint not to make a golden shower joke here), I found the ad disappointing less for its explicit sexuality than for its stereotypical portrayal of straight men. Beer companies have long advanced the idea that we're all dumb animals guided solely by sexual appetite, but now soda companies have to put forth this same '50s-era notion as well? Is New York City tap water the only safe thing left for me to drink? Shockingly, not every guy goes slack-jawed at the sight of a bikini-clad specimen -- especially when that specimen is a cartoon doe, clearly aimed at kid consumers. I don't think the ad is going to corrupt kids any more than Britney Spears or Jessica Simpson, but I certainly never want to drink Orangina again. Money shots aren't the first thing I want to associate with a thirst quencher.

So there you go. Orangina, maybe it's time to consider marketing mayonnaise?

By Salon Staff

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