From the UK Daily Mail:
Bosses at trendy clothing firm American Apparel have been rapped for a ‘too sexy’ advert showing a female model wearing a ‘thong bodysuit’.
The firm, which has more than 270 stores across the world, regularly has its raunchy ads banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
In 2012 the firm had a string of ads banned in four different rulings after using photos of women exposing their breasts, showing off their bare bums and posing with their legs spread in its ad campaigns.
At American Apparel, banned ads (and the free publicity that follows) are baked into the company’s marketing plan.
Ryan Holiday, former director of marketing for American Apparel, explained the strategy in his book, Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator:
When I design online ads for American Apparel, I almost always look for an angle that will provoke. Outrage, self-righteousness, and titillation all work equally well … If I could generate a reaction, I could propel the ad from being something I had to pay for people to see (by buying ad inventory) to something people would gladly post on the front page of their highly trafficked websites.
Holiday goes on to explain that he would invest a small amount of money to run a racy ad on a low-traffic blog, knowing that it would be picked up by other blogs and, eventually, the mainstream media. “The publicity from the spectacle generated tens of thousands of dollars in sales, and that was my intention all along,” writes Holiday, adding that he had “substantial data” to back up his claim that the controversy led to an increase in sales of whatever the ad was hawking.
You’ll notice that I didn’t provide a picture of the ad, or even a link to it because I am not willing to give American Apparel free advertising. Here’s a suggestion: when you see an outraged article about the banned ad in your Facebook feed or on your favorite website, vow not to share it if the article includes the racy picture of the adolescent-looking model in the thong. Let’s stop allowing ourselves to be manipulated and stop rewarding them with free advertising.