Sexy or Sexist? Ads on the Facepalm Beach

Business & Innovation
re:publica 2016


Sexy ads are often made in the seaside town of Facepalm Beach where creators and their customers like to be tongue-in-cheek and a little provocative. Everyone has a lot of fun creating in Facepalm Beach. But when launch day comes, shitstorms brew up in the sky above those happy creators. These storms can damage businesses and reputations and cost jobs. It does not have to be that way. Let's look at Faceplam Beach's sex selling logic and why it needs some competition.


Selling is mostly linked with some form of temptation. We as consumers mostly prefer to be tempted instead of nudged and shoved to buy something. It's nicer. It makes us feel better. Since sex is one of humanity's number one temptations, it is of course used generously to sell many things. From soft drinks to sex toys. Context is mostly not really important, as long as accounts receivable is busy.

Sex itself, as part of public entertainment and/or advertizing, is not a bad thing. Sexy adverts can be seen as a sign of a liberal and freedom-loving society. It is mostly not prudish-conservative freedom-hating vibes that drive shitstorms against sexy ads and campaigns. What drives many people into participating in shitstorms, protests and anger against sex-driven ad-campaigns is the mental one-way-street that seems to dominate the imagery. This is what turns sexy fun into sexist injustice.

Bad press may be better than no press to some people, plain attention might be all they want. But this is not really efficient. Digital society has seen a lot of development since “Sex” was the most searched for thing in ancient search engines like Alta Vista or Fireball. Tastes have become more diverse. Discourse about about the age old Meat Market (for female flesh), as Laurie Penny called it, is getting more and more attention.

But what about the aspect of critical sex-positive culture? Do we want no flesh at all instead of one kind? Or do we want all kinds to maybe bring about a level playing field of everyday erotica that does not mostly cater to one half of the human race?

This is why we should talk about the ads from Facepalm Beach. Those are the campaigns and advertizing strategies that might bring a certain short-term value, but then have a scary potential to drag companies and careers downhill into shitstorms, loss of workforce and profit and even bankruptcy.

The most interesting thing about these ads and strategies, is that they could be designed to be more diverse, cater to more than the traditional one-way street called straight male gaze and see where that type of disruption and innovation takes us. Two-way streets and roundabouts take us to more destinations than Facepalm Beach and allow more flexibility for engaging customers, audience and friends.

“Sex on the Facepalm Beach” features real life cases of sex-driven ads that caused more than just a shitstorm and cost jobs, money and nerves and shows simple suggestions on to tweak and optimize a first idea into something more inclusive and therefore even more sexy.

Stage 4
Montag, 2. Mai 2016 - 17:15 bis 17:45