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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

This Ad is Tantalizing, But Not in the Way You Think

The new ad for K-Y Intense lubricant, which began running yesterday (but had thousands of hits on YouTube beforehand), features a lesbian couple. I love this ad. I really, really love this ad. And I love it because it's nothing special - it's an ad that features a regular old couple, in unglamorous PJs, who need some help in the bedroom just like millions of other people. They just happen to be two women. And I love that it's unambiguous - they're not thinly veiled "roommates" or "friends," it's clear that they're a couple.

The lack of ambiguity is key. Homosexuality is so touchy for some that ambiguity would put people off in the same way overt displays of homosexuality would. Remember this Budweiser ad? There was an "are they or aren't they" question about the two men featured (my opinion: who cares?), and even the suggestion that they might be gay was enough to turn people off. Budweiser has a very "bro" reputation, and people though a gay couple was at odds with the brand's identity. (That's a polite way of saying that there was a distinct "Gays? Drinking the beer I drink? Eww!" outcry.) So this "in for a penny, in for a pound" approach is completely refreshing to me - if people are going to be grossed out by homosexuality, it doesn't matter how brazenly it's depicted, so K-Y may as well go all in.

And I love that K-Y's approach to the stir the ad has created is basically "Yeah, and?" They've long been supporters of LGBT causes and issues, and they're just continuing that tradition. This has created major buzz for the product and for the brand, but it doesn't feel like K-Y set out to shock anyone. I don't doubt that they knew the ad would be controversial; they live in the world, after all. But it doesn't feel like a publicity stunt at all. K-Y and its parent company, McNeil, come across as very secure as their position that this is an ad they created, that they meant to create, that it's NOT meant to stir up drama, and it's not going anywhere. Well done, K-Y. Well done.

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