Marketing From A Woman's Point of View

Sex In Marketing – Calling The Pot Black

So today, my friends, we talk about sex.  Not the actual act of sex, but the subject of sex and how women are affected by the mention of the word in business or blogging.  It should be interesting.

It was my intention today to make this post a tutorial on setting up your blog advertising using OIO Publisher. (Maybe Thursday) Instead, when I woke up this morning I noticed a pingback (a notice letting me know someone else had mentioned my blog and linked to it on theirs) from another woman entrepreneur that seemingly took offense to one of my article headlines.

You may remember that back in October I entered a contest to win passes to Blogworld 09 from John Chow’s blog.  John’s a pretty big name in the Internet marketing world, so I expected a lot of competition.  I was pretty stoked when I actually WON a weekend pass to the expo for my article!  There were a few tactics I used when I wrote that piece that I may share in a later post, but one of the main things I did was use a headline that would catch attention. It’s called baiting.

My “Offensive” Article

The article is titled “Will Give Great Blog For Passes To Blogworld“.  Catchy?  Provocative? A little shocking?  I hoped so.  Demeaning to women?  Umm…not so much.  But Adria Richards seems to think so and has included me in her rant on using sex to promote yourself and how it is demeaning to women.

So why is this article from October being brought up now? I was mentioned in Adria’s article “What’s Wrong With Using Sex To Sell Your Wordcamp Session?” because of my Blogworld article. Note the headline here.

Someone uses a sexual innuendo to promote their work. It works. Someone else cries “sexism” and “women’s rights” by quoting it & promoting their work. How are they different? It’s the same marketing ploy with a different spin.

The Drama

Adria was given the opportunity to speak and placed on the schedule for Wordcamp Boston. When Danielle Morrill submitted her subject “Getting the Money Shot: Making Screencasts Without Going Insane” for her shot to speak at Wordcamp, and made it to the finals, Adria protested by backing out of her scheduled session and has stirred up some controversy over the subject.

Here is the subject description that has offended Adria so much to leave the Wordcamp people high and dry:

Danielle Morrill – Producing a useful screencast, where an online product or service is demonstrated for the user and they are introduced to the UI of your website, can increase the number of people who convert to customers. This talk will leave viewers with practical advise for creating their own screencast, including a list of tools and resources. It will also outline some of the things to avoid, the pyschology of the editor, and how thinking like a porn director will help you be sure to achieve the “”money shot””. Take 1 Mac, 1 Flipcam HD, a whole lot of coffee, and one really sleep deprived Danielle and hilarity ensues.

When I read Danielle’s description I see more than just a reference to porn.  I see the opportunity to learn a lesson on screencasting that will be entertaining as well as educational.  Porn is a multi-million dollar business and I would love to learn psychology behind the marketing strategy even if I am not a big supporter.  Danielle never mentioned having shots of naked women in her presentation, (sorry guys) but rather, jokes about how fun she will make the session.

Coree’s Take On The Sex Issue

I’m a chick that’s okay with talking about sex fairly openly.  I don’t get offended at sexual innuendos, and in fact, am often the one that starts them.  Not all sexual reference is bad.  Not all porn is bad.  If a woman is being abused or oppressed then it’s different.  I know plenty of women that actually enjoy watching porn or visiting a strip club with their male partner. That doesn’t set that woman back 20 years in our progression to fight discrimination.

By not taking offense to sexual innuendos I am placing myself on the same playing level as a guy.  No longer do they have that power over me to think they can offend me or make me uncomfortable by talking about sex.  Now, if someone is openly being rude, discriminatory or demeaning they will have to watch out!  But, all in all, I’m comfortable with my sexuality and can laugh at our human desires because we are sexual beings.

I am all about respect for women and treating us fairly in all areas of life.  Women have definitely had to fight to gain the respect as an equally intelligent and capable being and not just a man’s sex toy.  It irks me when I see women displayed as good for nothing other than eye candy or as a dumb bimbo that can only get ahead by sleeping her way to the top.  But, that’s an extreme.

This whole controversy over something as simple as a tongue in cheek wink at our infatuation with sex is also extreme.  We know sex sells, we know that men are all over any mention of sex like flies on …well, you know.  So, to be intelligent enough to use a discreet marketing ploy to win a competition and call it demeaning is a little out of order.

The Humor Behind Sex in Marketing

Adria says in her article, “I don’t find pornography to be funny“.

No one was laughing about pornography itself.  The humor is in the obsession we have with porn or sex and how we can laugh at ourselves because of it. Every comedian I can think of has become wildly popular for the ability to get us to identify and laugh at our own humanity.

You may not agree with everything that comes out of Jenny, The Bloggess, mouth but I can tell you that she is very popular with both men AND women for her ability to do put a funny spin on the sex subject.  I consider myself pretty extreme at times, but sometimes Jenny can even have me going “Whoa!”.  Jenny just began writing for Sexis Magazine where her entire mission is to make fun of porn in her articles.  It’s not demeaning to her, and I’m pretty sure if someone tried to demean Jenny she would have her own unique way of turning that back on them.

Of course there is a point where it’s gone too far.  Having the chicks in ultra tight shorts and tanks to gain attention at a convention is blatant and out of place.  On the flip side, if a woman sponsored booth used a guy in a speedo to attract attention would you go over there?  Probably not cuz that’s just creepy. But I think we can make rational decisions on what’s extreme, what’s funny, and what’s tasteful.

Share Your Thoughts

I say more power to Danielle for not being afraid to use a man’s tactic in marketing her submission! She has my vote for Wordcamp Boston…and if you’d like to join me you have til 11:59pm EST tonight to add yours.  I think Danielle and I could have been great Mae Wests in another life, or at least women that know how to dish it up with the best of them.  :)

What’s your opinion on using sexual innuendos in marketing?  I know I’m opening up for some lively conversation,  but feel free to leave your comments below.  I look forward to hearing them!
To Your Success,

P.S. ~> I have several advertising spots available for bargain prices.  I feel like maybe I should be selling some sex toys along with the advertising after this post, but alas…it’s just an awesome deal on advertising your business where other women entrepreneurs voice their opinions.  ;)  Check out the pricing and availability and reserve your spot today.

January 12, 2010   17 Comments