Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The naked truth

Zappos.com, one of the internet's most successful retailers, has a problem.

It's not their sales. In just over ten years, their annual sales are well over one billion dollars.

It's not their profits. Even in this down economy, they seem to be hanging in there.

It's that 80% of their revenue still comes from the sale of shoes.

That's not entirely surprising since they began as an online shoe store and only started to add accessories and clothing in 2007. But now they're making a concerted effort to change that perception with a bold, new advertising campaign.

Strategic nudity is nothing new in advertising. Certainly not in fashion retailing. What makes this work for me is that nudity isn't the strategy, it's the executional idea that brings the strategy to life.

The strategy is: Zappos sells all kinds of clothes with the same fun attitude and great customer experience you've come to expect over the last ten years.

Is nudity a gimmick to grab your attention? Yes. But like all great advertising the gimmick is tied directly to the promise of the ad and reinforces the message. It's not a superfluous gag as is the case with the humor in most light beer advertising.

I'm sure some people will take offense to the ads. But that's okay. In the end, as long as the campaign drives sales, it's better to have a few people hate your ads than nobody notice them.

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