Western Europe isn't exactly known for its prudish attitudes toward sex, drugs and rock-'n-roll, and yet...
Recently, Belgium's Jury for Ethical Practices decided to ban the Tour De France inspired billboard campaign of underwear manufacturer Sloggi. During the weeks of Tour De France hype, many billboards featured the 'Tour panties' as they quickly became known. "To capitalize on cycling-minded Belgium", according to Rob Brand of Sloggi Benelux.
This is it, ladies and gentlemen: the offensive campaign:
Which is a follow-on to this campaign (not considered offensive):
Now I must add that Sloggi is renowned for its sexy ads showing female butts. The brand even hosts its own 'most beautiful behind' campaign each year, so sexy butts are part of their visual identity.
Having said that, the question is: does the 'cycling campaign' offend me any more (or any less) than the 'scooter campaign? No.
Has the campaign enticed me to run to the store to buy one of the famous Tour panties? No. (But even if I wanted to I could buy one, I couldn't - because they don't exist! "We only made those for the campaign, not as real products" a salesman assured his customers recently).
Obviously this is a brand awareness raising campaign tagged onto a current-affairs event to maximize its relevance. So if the question is, has the campaign fulfilled that objective, the answer is yes.
If we speak of effective marketing - marketing that supports sales - the questions I'd love to get an answer to from Sloggi are:
Did it appeal to your customers and prospective customers?
Did you notice an increase in sales?
Has it affected/increased your market-share?
Or are you happy to call it 'successful' because it raised your Share-of-Voice for a few days?