Friday, March 25, 2005

Sexy advertising: the Bowflex grandmother and the Baby Boomers

Bowflex is a "home gym" brand owned by the famous fitness equipment company Nautilus. Bowflex equipment is heavily promoted through television advertising and sold direct via 800-number. Their most famous ad featured Donna McClure, a 50 year old grandmother. Ms. McClure wore a skimpy bikini and sported a body that many women half her age would kill for.

As the huge Baby Boomer market ages, there will certainly be more advertisers creating sexy ads using age-appropriate models. Boomers are well known to be highly resistant to the idea of aging ... yet ads targeting them should use models that are Boomers themselves. Enter the sexy 50-year old models!

How does this ad do with my 3 tests for evaluating sexy ads? After seeing the ad, you definitely remember it was for Bowflex (she's the "Bowflex grandmother"!). The ad is hot enough to be literally remarkable - the ad generated hundreds of blog entries and newspaper mentions. Is the ad a one-off titillation or part of a whole brand identity? I'd say the latter ... Bowflex has always used fit/sexy models in its ads. Ms. McClure is just the first older one.

A product that can put a sexy-fit-young body on a grandmother is certain to capture the Baby-Boomers' attention. A scantily-clad model is relevant to the product advertised ... they're selling better bodies. The only possible objection I have to the ad is that Ms. McClure appears to have had a face-lift and a boob-job. Maybe she hasn't, but the appearance is what matters. The "fake" look seems to upset some women -- and who wants to upset the target audience?


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