Posted by: Mark Nielsen | August 17, 2010

Setting the Sexual Hook, on Facebook

Facebook, as it evolves, is getting a bit problematic for me.

As a business model, it’s brilliant. Allows for narrow “targeting” of a message in a way that television and other older forms of advertising seldom offered.

But as a distraction, and a distributor of less than helpful, never-asked-for material, facebook and other social networking sites can be like going to a digital mall:  tittering at Victoria’s Secret window displays, or playfully trying on those fabulous gold lame’ shirts that you’ll never actually wear in real life.

In other words, there are a whole lot of new kinds of junkmail out in cyberspace than we typically acknowledge. Everyone out there wants not only my attention, but ultimately my dollars. I’m starting to feel a bit hunted on facebook.

Here’s today’s case in point:

Careful where you click now, ladies and gents…
The above photo and link are from a sidebar ad that came up on my facebook homepage today. Now, I’m not trying to be a prude here. Just analyzing what’s going on from a communications perspective, and somewhat from a psychological one.
So take a look at the ad in its entirety: we have a pretty young blonde girl, in white short-shorts, squatting, saying she “wants” someone. Several someones, in fact.
But Ms. Angler looks about as much like a fellow fisherman to me as Bozo the Clown looks like an attorney or physician. Does she really fish in those shorts and pink tank top? Has she ever worn waders? And as for that pole, I wonder if that’s the only type of pole this model has had some work experience with…
Is this a club for fishermen, to trade lure techniques and share stories of the one that got away? So then why tempt me with a “hook” photo that is so sexual and titillating? (titillating… one of the top ten best words in the English language, BTW).
Me, I ain’t clicking thru. Ain’t gonna join their club, just on principle, precisely because of this ad. They’re using the same “impulse buy” kind of marketing that grocery stores use to sell tabloids, or Blockbuster uses to sell Twizzlers at a huge markup. But in this case, I’m sure it’s catching the attention of thousands of other Regular Joes and flannel-clad fishermen, not many of whom are conscious of how they’re being manipulated.
I’m sure many of these same men are quite ethical and sensitive,  for 23.5 out of 24 hours a day. But for that half-hour when they’re drooling –somewhat involuntarily, but not entirely– over the likes of this ad… that’s the half-hour that can be used to accuse them of being inherently sexist, or lustful, or “male chauvinist pigs”. It doesn’t seem fair, does it?
I don’t know what else to say, except maybe this:
“No thanks, honey. I’m a fisher of men. And women. Want to join our club?”

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