an Ad a Day

A look at the marketing that surrounds us.

Virgin Mobile: The Ick Factor

Posted by Rosepixie on February 6, 2010

These are two commercials from a recent Virgin Mobile ad campaign.

For some reason Virgin Mobile decided to seriously tap into the ick factor for this recent campaign.  The concept of people removing their mouths to continue talking on their cell phones while they do other things is a little disturbing in and of itself, but not actually that icky they way they portray it.  So I guess they decided they needed to make it grosser?

The girl with the gum in the first ad is pretty icky, but the second ad is way worse.  It *might* not be so bad if it weren’t for the expressions on the other girl’s face as she listens in to the very disturbing conversation.  So why is this?  All the ads that I could find in this campaign featured women talking (and the articles online about the campaign back this up – the idea was that women are “chatty Cathys”).

So, I guess I have to ask, why did Virgin feel it was necessary to make the ads gross?  Their ads generally have something odd about them, but they aren’t usually gross.  On the other hand, Virgin isn’t exactly new to sexist ads (there was a major ad a while back with a naked girl who had “nothing to hide” because she bought a pre-paid phone – no guy ads, though, because it’s all about the naked girls, right?).

For me, the mouth thing wouldn’t have turned me off to their product.  It wouldn’t have necessarily made me buy it, but it would have made me remember it, which could be enough when I next go looking for a new plan.  The fact that the ads both felt the need to throw in a feeling of “girls talk to much and about gross things” (suggesting they let anything that runs through their heads just run right out their mouths as though everyone wanted to hear about it!), definitely turns me off.  And as I already said, the mouth thing makes the ads memorable, so adding in the negative reaction means that Virgin has pretty much guaranteed that it won’t get my business.  That’s not good advertising.

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