Recently, the FTC filed a complaint against POM, the pomegranate juice maker, claiming it’s ads were “false and unsubstantial” on it’s health benefits. Read the LA Time article here and here. Now they’re rolling out commercials with some implied media heat insinuating that it’s using sex to sell the product in an effort to cheapen the creative.
C’mon. What’s really going on here? Do you think that “sex” was seriously the first choice in developing this campaign? Sure, I agree that there is a huge, misleading gimmick of using sex to sell advertising. (Look at fashion ads. Or Lady Gaga videos.) But to me the concept rings true to what POM is saying: “Powerful then. POM wonderful now.” And that is not “using sex”, bur rather doing something “sexy”.
The backdrop of the story in the commercials uses choice stories from ancient Greek and Hebrew mythologies in which pomegranates play an intricate part. How much of the mythology is correct, I leave up to the scholars. But regardless, I’ve heard the same stories. As for the use of sex––Are we to blame of the Hebrews that Eve happened to be nekkid in the Garden of Eden and that her body was perfection from God’s own hand? Or are we to blame the Greeks who worshiped the gods, and believed that when the gods themselves came in to Earth in human form that their bodies were of perfection, so they strived as a society to be godlike? Not at all. In my opinion, anyone educated enough in the mythological contexts of these stories would realize that this ad campaign has sort of a genius way of using these stories to sell the health benefits of Pomegranate juice; not just simply using sex in a last ditch effort.
Ad geeks everywhere could always argue over the award-winning potential and retention of this ad (much like our own genitalia). Some could even argue that it’s boring. But to think that this ad took well-known pomegranate stories (at least to the average purveyors-of-useless-knowledge, like me) and plotted it into something sexy is simply AD 101, and shouldn’t be ridiculed for showing half-naked, beautiful people. It’s a smart way of positioning and selling the product. And at the end of the day, that’s really what us “Madmen” are trying to accomplish. That, and successfully fighting off Mr. Sandman whenever possible to get the job done.
So now knowing this, and being a little more keen into the business dealings within the Ad world, I coin (badly) the words of Wall Street 2 character Gordon Gekko, “Who do you think benefits” from POM getting this sort of bad rap in the press? After all, the article didn’t have to run.