Sex sells… just not equally

There was a new icon of sort that has emerged during the Super Bowl.  That was Adriana Lima.  She had two commercials during the game, by my count.  This is where I wonder if that’s a good thing or a bad thing?  Particularly with a model like Adriana Lima, who is hot right now and is the spokesperson for a good handful of brands.  She’s also very well-known as a Victoria’s Secret model.  So, can a new brand successfully leverage Lima in mere 30 second commercial?

As with all things, it came down to execution.  On this front, Kia won by a mile.

First of all, Kia teased the ad.  It prepared the crowd for brand association.  You knew that during the Game, Lima will be in a Kia commercial.  More importantly, during the commercial, it was clear that the car was the star, and Lima played only a supporting role (a very beautiful one at that).  Even in a 15 second teaser ad where the car was not shown, it was clear that it was a car commercial.  There was the checkered race flag, a clear car symbol.  Also, the brand was clearly and prominently displayed at the closing.  That kind of attention to branding was only amplified during the full 30 second commercial.

Teleflora on the other hand was basically a commercial for Lima herself.  It focused and featured Lima’s sexy self.  There was very minimal branding.  And this just doesn’t work.  It doesn’t work when you have an unknown model, and it works even less when you have a well known model.  Lima’s sexy image links back to the Victoria’s Secret brand image.  If you show off this side of her, you’re almost creating a Victoria’s Secret commercial.  In fact, the Teleflora commercial is a less well-made version of a 2008 Victoria’s Secret commercial also featuring Lima.

Teleflora’s 2012 Super Bowl Commercial… compare to Victoria’s Secret 2008 Super Bowl Commercial below

And the public agrees.  USAToday’s ad meter poll shows that Kia is ranked as the #2, while Teleflora is somewhere much further down.  The lesson?  Whenever you use a model or a spokesperson, understand how your brand equity works with the brand equity of the model.  The key is to make sure you understand how they can enhance your brand.

Kia knows that sex sells.  In fact, sex sells cars very well.  There has been a long history of using pretty models to sell cars.  But at the end of the day, it was still about the car.  Kia sells cars – not sexy models.

Kia’s full extended version of the Super Bowl 2012 commercial


Let’s get the discussion started.  Here are some tweetable bits:

SEX.  Now that I got your attention, are you really going to buy? @jeannie_chan

Sex sells.  Wait, we also know sex doesn’t actually sell anything but sex? @jeannie_chan

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