Monday, March 24, 2014

Nude Publicity Stunts

A very clever (and rather saucy) photo made its way on to social media this week. Posted by Ben Forbes of the Torq Australia MTB Team, it featured both an incredible demonstration of skill and a healthy dose of nudity. What it didn’t incorporate, unfortunately, was a lot of PR effectiveness. Here’s a guide to maximising the impact of your nude photo stunts.

The skill demonstrated in the set up and capture of this photograph is quite impressive. Firstly, Ben Forbes had to pull off a very steady one-handed mono. Then, he had to hold it still long enough to allow the photographer to get a good snap. And then, to further complicate matters, Tristan Ward had to stand in the background naked with his genitalia carefully lined up between the camera lens and the front wheel of his colleague. This is, needless to say, quite an extraordinary feat, especially if, as noted in the comments, it was actually the “First photo we tried!! Dead set fluke!”.

What they have neglected to do though, is get their brand incorporated in the photo. While they are wearing team-issue socks, these are hardly visible in the photo.

When planning your nude publicity stunt it’s important to consider what you are trying to sell or market. What message are you trying to get across to the public with your nude picture after it (hopefully) goes viral on social media?

In the case of musicians, models, actors and other entertainers, the commodity they are selling is usually themselves – they are trying to generate exposure to boost their own profile. In these cases it’s not too difficult to plan your publicity stunt. Miley Cyrus, the Red Hot Chili Peppers as well as John and Yoko have all provided good examples of this.
John and Yoko’s 1968 album cover for Unfinished Music No 1: Two Virgins generated a lot of controversy but probably not that much income as “…the music was too avant-garde for most listeners...and a number of record stores refused to stock it.”

In cycling, it is often a brand, team or sponsor that is behind the nude marketing stunt. Mario Cipollini was involved in some good ones:
With safety always in the forefront of his mind, Cipollini made sure to wear correct cycling shoes, even when posing for a nude photo shoot.

There’s a calendar called Cyclepassion that has featured a number of female cyclists posing for “artistic” photos. While the drawcard for the calendar is nude or scantily clad females, they always manage to also incorporate a brand in to the photos.
Without this clever product placement, it would simply be nudity for the sake of it, and if people just wanted to see nudity, then there are probably more than a dozen dedicated websites for that kind of thing. Just Google it – you won’t be disappointed.

In 2013 a couple of female models covered in body paint were used for promotional purposes at a Melbourne bike shop, whose name now escapes me. This caused quite an uproar, not only in the cycling community, but also amongst the general public.
But you don’t even have to be an actual person to generate controversy with nude (or semi-nude) publicity stunts as demonstrated by Barbie, who was featured on a controversial special edition insert for the 50th anniversary Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition in February this year.
In 2012, attendees at the Slutwalk protests used nudity to very cleverly get their message across.
But one of the most successful nude publicity campaigns is this one by the PETA organisation:
This campaign certainly attracted some exposure for PETA (Proud Exhibitionists Thriving on Attention).

This is such an effective marketing campaign because it gets a message across, while at the same time providing a bit of titillation.

And obviously, fire fighters are never shy about getting their kit off.
But, once again, the key thing that they’ve managed to do is to make their “brand” highly visible in the image. In the case of the fire fighters, it’s their recognisable yellow pants and red suspenders. But keep in mind that the incorporation of red suspenders alone is not enough to achieve brand recognition in your nude publicity stunt.

Obviously, hindsight is a wonderful luxury to be afforded, but here is just one idea of how the Torq Team could have better incorporated their brand into this nude photo.

A bit of clever product placement goes a long way in a nude publicity stunt.

Photo editing offers up an almost endless supply of creative possibilities, as evidenced by this incredible collection of responses to a forum post asking for assistance with a basic photo manipulation.

With this is mind, perhaps the Torq Team’s next nude publicity stunt will be a little more effective in terms of product placement and brand recognition.

The nude publicity stunt done properly, with subtle product placement and a good amount of brand recognition.

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