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Is it time to stop being a fucking prude?

Around the advertising landscape today, we are seeing the gloves come off. And everything else coming off too, for that matter. 

Is it time for you to stop being a fucking prude and toss some tits, ass and dirty words into your advertising?

Apparently, K-Swiss thinks so. Check out this K-Swiss ad done by LA agency 72 and Sunny....

Not to be outdone, Zappos "revealed" a campaign this week by ad agency Mullen with QR codes covering up the jiggly bits of some naked ladies.

Zappos ad

Is all this risky business good for business?

It depends on your business. I wouldn't recommend this approach to Bank of America. But these brands are betting big that it's going to be great for their businesses. 

I'm inclined to agree.

Why? Because I laugh when I see this stuff. It doesn't make me want to boycott K-Swiss, it makes me think they get my sense of humor. A few years ago, Virgin Mobile hired Traction when they saw this banner ad mock-up for their "top-up" phone service:

Traction virgin mobile ad

And kids? What's their sense of humor like? Check out this video (if you're not easily offended) for Red Bull Energy Douche with 900,000 views on FunnyorDie.com.

I can't tell you if the brand sponsored that or not, but I can tell you that most 17-year old dudes who drink Red Bull aren't going to care. A lot of them will probably go buy some Red Bull. Does that make it right?

It's ironic that we see brands like GroupOn pulling the plug on a Crispin campaign (that they paid a hell of a lot of money for) after getting a few letters of complaint from angry conservative groups and other brands like these going Full Monty.

Going for shock value is probably a poor strategy. Using nudity or profanity instead of thinking strategically or conceptually is likely to fall flat. Being low-class does not serve your brand in the long run. Clearly, there's a fine line you don't want to cross. 

But that fine line just got a little lower.

Adam Kleinberg CEO

Adam is the CEO of Traction, an interactive agency broadly recognized as one of the top small agencies in the US. Kleinberg plays a hands-on role for all agency accounts and keeps his team at the leading edge of emerging digital channels. He is also a regular contributor to Ad Age, Forbes, Mashable, Digiday and iMediaConnection.