Monday, May 09, 2011

General Pants Raunchy Ad Campaign – Stunt Marketing Gone Wrong

Australian fashion retailer General Pants has been forced to censor its provocative ad campaign for the fashion label Ksubi. General Pants carries several Australian and international brands for young men and women. Its main focus is on youth culture and street wear.

The retailer’s latest in-store campaign is “Sex! & Fashion” for denim label Ksubi. It featured half-naked mannequins and provocative videos and posters displaying the word “Sex!”. Staff was asked to wear badges featuring the phrase “I love Sex”.

Shoppers were not happy and bitterly (and effectively) complained. Australia's NSW has a Minister for Women named Ms. Pru Goward who stated that the retailer “clearly overstepped the mark”.

General Pants responded by covering the posters with black “censored” strips, but kept the posters and badges will remain part of the promotion, which ends on May 16. General Pants chief executive Craig King remarked it was a “bit of a stretch” to suggest the campaign may encourage young people, particularly teenagers, to have sex.

General Pants division manager Jacquie Vuleta added that Ksubi is perceived as a polarized brand and the campaign is therefore in line with the retailer’s image. She stated: “They’ve always been a very bold brand and try to make a statement with the campaigns that they do. We did not go into this campaign to offend anybody; it was meant to be a play on the fashion industry and the fact [that] there is sex in fashion.”

Stunt marketing tries to be quirky while avoiding being too cheeky or crass. Especially start-ups like to launch controversial campaigns to get noticed. However, the campaign must be in context with the brand image.

The main marketing lesson? Be careful using “stunt marketing”; if it backfires, brand and budget are burnt.

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