I think they might be, so I’m not giving them linkjuice by linking to the ads (web videos only, not shown on broadcast or cable TV) and I’m not mentioning their name for the search engines either. If you don’t already know what I’m talking about, you can read about it from Kate Harding at Salon and Melissa at Shakesville in more detail, but in a nutshell: this particular manufacturer has put out a new shoe that allegedly is more effective at “toning” buttocks and legs, and the video ad is all about disembodied breasts pouting that nobody is staring at them any more because they’re all staring at the disembodied buttocks instead.
Liss noted that the objectification is so gratuitous that it seems tailor-made to get posts objecting to it on feminist blogs:
What they’re hoping is that it will be posted in feminist forums, but enough feminist readers will still hate their bodies more than they hate the ad, hate their bodies enough to be interested in the product nonetheless.
I think it’s much more cynical than just (just!) that. Feminist forums lambasting it will in turn get posts defending it/mocking the oversensitive feminists on the dudebro forums. Blogwars will ensue. Shortly afterwards it will get Twitter hashtags, Tumblr cascades and pro/con Facebook groups, and then it’s a watercooler topic for a few days, and yay for viral marketing! There is no intent to show this ad to a broader market, it’s purely there to drive internet discussion.
In some ways a marketing strategy like this would be an interesting development, an acknowledgement of the way that people increasingly use the blogosphere and social networks to inform their opinions. The analytical side of me is more than a little intrigued.
But deeper down, the cynicism in exploiting the voices of feminist bloggers to generate more buzz about a product just pisses me off.