Clever Marketing or Simulated Sex?

We know that sex sells, but at what point do you cross over the line from suggestive to simulated? For the past week, the @Issue editorial team and interested others at Studio Hinrichs have been engaged in an ongoing dispute. My opinion and that of several others (who just happened to all be women) was that this commercial bordered on soft porn (the next ad in this series even more so). The male designers in the office watched the commercial attentively before describing it as “stylish,” “well-designed,” and “clever marketing.”

What’s the ad about? I asked. “Sexy CPR,” said some. “Lingerie,” said others. Name the brand? Blank stare. How often do you guys buy lingerie for your significant other? Never. Maybe on Valentine’s Day.

I asked the women. Did this ad convince you to switch underwear brands? “No,” they answered as one.

So, if an ad stimulates interest but doesn’t actually sell any merchandise, is it effective? What’s the difference between titillating and exploitive? Is a model posing in scanty underwear a la Victoria Secret different than two models “role playing,” however tamely?

At Studio Hinrichs, the difference in opinion seemed to divide evenly along gender line. Against my better judgment, I agreed to post this on the blog and let you be the judge.