Who is Zesty Guy really targeting; gay men or a million offended moms?

Ladies... Can we talk?

You know how I say sexist ads are bad for everyone, and that there's a balance of humor and emotion that needs to be reached for the character to evolve beyond the rock-hard abs, now he's just an object, so you know I'm not a fan. I'm not working for the type of equality where both genders have it equally bad.

One Million moms slam Kraft in what Adweek calls the best present ever, if you subscribe to the idea that controversy & earned media sells.

One million moms have a point though: "The consumers they are attempting to attract — women and mothers — are the very ones they are driving away. Who will want Kraft products in their fridge or pantry if this vulgarity is what they represent?"

They're driving the women away because they're not actually talking to us. Look at these spreads, they look like "Playgirl" spreads. Have you ever seen anyone but a gay man buy Playgirl? What gay men find sexy, straight women find vulgar - this doesn't mean these one million moms are prudes. After all, they did breed. It's just that women have a different eye for sexy than men do. Nudity is not a trigger for women in the way it is for men. Sudden nudity between the pages of how to help your kids with homework and how to help your family eat healthy in the Mommy-magazines is an even bigger turn-off. It's like a flasher in the supermarket. Put that away, we're doing the grocery shopping here.

Even The Awl comes out to ask : "Did you ever think you'd be subjected to gay guys who are TV execs ogling you on-air while you're trying to stick to your agency-approved content delivery stratagems?" I have news for you Awl, it's not just the TV execs, it's the client and the ad agency too.

"What? I'm just licking some wood. Nothing to see here."

The Zesty guy is gaining momentum, he appears as a celebrity guest on Bravo, he's popular in forums where gay men would love to have him toss their salad. (Did you not see that coming, Kraft?)

The sex object tactic might work better on those Million Moms if it wasn't so clearly gay. I'm simply not the target, despite being a woman between ages 25-54. I don't follow Zesty on twitter either, because I don't work at TBWA (seems everyone who works there followed the account after it was temporarily suspended for spam). The other twitter fans? They want to know if Zesty guy is gay friendly.

Leaving everyones sexual orientation alone for a minute (gay men buy salad dressing, don't they?), what really bothers me is that the ad is terrible. It's a cheap mans Old Spice, without the weird, without the amazing in-camera cuts, and without the humor. In short, without the budget and talent. It's just a pretty guy with his shirt off, showing his cleanly waxed chest. We've seen that before.

It tells me nothing about salad dressing, except that we're supposed to set it on fire.

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Anonymous Adgrunt's picture
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Sil's picture

imagine if the guy was a girl with a big rack in a skimpy outfit - it would be considered rather sexist, simply because there isn't much of a reason for a semi-naked guy and salad dressing to be together in a frame... Mind you, i do think women don't mind a bit of flesh.

Who doesn't remember the gardner in Desperate Housewives? Or Coke for that matter.

Dabitch's picture

Coke is a great example of two wrongs don't make a right. I've hated that giggling office-worker-gals idea since it first appeared in the late 80s. Seriously, who the fuck does that? In fact, that's when I stopped drinking Diet Coke. Not that they care.

The Diet Coke puppets on the other hand, oh la la! They're hilarious. and Jean-Paul, gay icon & fashion king, made a straighter ad. Go figure. It's not like they're without plenty of sexual innuendo, either.

You bring up a good point, there isn't much of a reason for the spokesperson to be totally nude under a picnic blanket. This is exactly the type of ad that is banned by European advertising watchdogs, and I can't help but think this is what they're hoping for (a ban gets more earned media)

DanielJUK's picture

I'm so shallow on this but sort of want to buy that salad dressing now :)
gay bucks (or the pink pound) is valuable and I think that is why there is so many companies who line up to be part of gay prides around the world. They are such commercial entity events now, promoting brands. They basically involve shirtless models selling brands and that is not just gay brands or underwear /sex brands, they are major brands.

They are aiming for both, the shallowness of women and gay men and the offended moms giving them the best promotion!

Dabitch's picture

Ha! While I'm sure that was the rationale - that they could aim for both - it's missing a key insight. Women buy romance novels, text, while men buy visual porn (gay or straight). You can't actually aim at both with one image. Going for the pink pound is perfectly fine, and in fact very wise if that's their biggest paying target, but in the case of middle-American salad dressing, I doubt it is.