A viral video focused on a woman's boobs jiggling as she walks through a crowd around a pool has been making headlines, not because it's crude or exploitative, but rather because it's crude and exploitative for a good cause.
"Save The Boobs" promotes a breast cancer research charity called "Boobyball" (here's the link to the really irritating web site), and it aspires to make the younger set more aware that the killer disease isn't the purview just of old people.
Most of the reactions have been positive, whether in acknowledgment of using crass sexuality to break through ad clutter, or simply in adoration of Canadian TV host Aliya-Jasmine Souvani's, er, endowment. The point is to get people talking about the disease, and tens of thousands of YouTube views later, the viral video has certainly accomplished its goal.
Or has it?
It kinda works like any beer or snack food commercial: a bodacious babe is surrounded by goofy guys going bonkers, with the former tolerating the latter in ways that would never happen in reality (but are somehow enabled by the particular brand being hyped thereby). In this particular instance, the camera stands in for a lecherous pair of eyeballs until the woman finds herself in a wet T-shirt and pulls it up to deliver the Bootyball punchline literally glued across her boobs.
I wonder how many people care more about breast cancer than they did before seeing the segment? I have no problem with the crassness; in fact, I found it so refreshing that I would have gone to town with it:
- Adopt a boob. We can adopt orphans and trees, so why not boobs? Givers could get the chance to give in the name of a favorite mammary gland (or pair), maybe even making it a yearly "investment" in the protection of said assets? Think of the opportunities to send out updates on boob status.
- iPhone boobs. There's a lame list of porno apps floating around on the iPhone App Store, so why not enhance the offering with a program that teed-up a "boob of the day" for a small donation? Higher levels of giving could yield more boobs.
- "I love boobs" UGC. Imagine encouraging people to post their own boob stories, however defined, while perhaps asking them to ante up some donation for "registering" them in the video, audio, and/or textual campaign (or whatever). How about connecting entrants/posts with scheduling mammograms?
Ultimately, it's one thing to break through the clutter, and it's great that people are sending the clip to one another (and that media types are chattering about it). But success will be measured in donations, right? Secondary benefits might be more regular checkups, while a third -- and distant -- deliverable would be general awareness.
For all the ingenuity of melding disparate elements of sexist imagery and meaningful philanthropy, I suspect that the creators of the spot got those benefits backwards, or they would have included a trigger (or triggers) to translate the attention into more specific, tangible next steps. I think the nature of the spot would have allowed them to be far more clear in bluntly asking for the sale. For me, the spot is a great tactic in search of a better strategy.
Lending a hand to save the boobs would have been far more uplifting.