The 6 Most Ham-Fisted Uses of Sexual Innuendo in Marketing
Advertisers have been using sex to their advantage ever since advertising became a thing. Hell, the ad for the wheel probably featured two of them put together to look like boobs. But sometimes there is no plausible way to associate your product with sex without winding up with something that will turn people off sex forever. Like ...
KFC's Milkshake Money Shot
While KFC was brainstorming a way to introduce India to their new "Krushers" (a milkshake inexplicably named like a monster truck), the company's apparently preteen advertising staff giggled to each other about how milk kind of looks like semen and decided that was a good direction to go in. You even have to suck the milkshakes to drink them -- it practically writes itself!
In the resulting disaster, a man is enjoying his Artery Buster Special when he notices a woman making bizarre kissy faces at him while sounding like she's trying to suck molasses through a silly straw. We guess it's supposed to be erotic, but it makes us imagine two vacuum cleaners fucking.
Hey, guys, isn't it hot when a woman gasps for air?
We then cut to an explicit sequence of chocolate, milk, and ice spraying all over the woman's mouth. The soundtrack and editing make it look like a montage from a porno parody of Requiem for a Dream, complete with the inevitable conclusion.
In our day, "Finger lickin' good" was innuendo enough.
Several shots of this, along with scenes of the girl sensually licking her lips, make it clear that, yes, it's not just your filthy imagination: The milkshake symbolizes semen. Because what better way to get people to buy a drink than to insinuate that they're going to chug down several fluid ounces of baby batter?
Ignoring that the only people who find KFC erotic are just a few Double Downs away from a double bypass, who wants to associate milkshakes with money shots? Most people don't like getting ejaculated on at the best of times, let alone while they're trying to eat. We're surprised the slogan isn't "Come to KFC and get a load of cream to the face!" We joke, but we're not far off -- at the end of the ad, a woman coos, "Really thick. Really tasty." In a remarkable display of restraint, she doesn't add "Like a cock."
The first cut had him eating this with one hand.
The apparently sexually repressed creative head of the commercial insists that it has no sexual overtones, and that they were simply trying to "romance the ingredients," because when you decide to shove a bunch of fat-filled ice cream and milk down your throat, the first thing you think of is definitely romance. Meanwhile, KFC's marketing director says he's happy with the output, which men usually are when the output is semen.
The Quiznos Oven That Molests an Employee
Sandwiches rank low on the sexy-food scale, down there with pretty much everything that isn't Popsicles and lollipops. But that wasn't about to stop Quiznos, which tried to sex up their toasted sandwiches by implicitly toasting an employee's genitals:
We're introduced to an oven that sounds like HAL-9000 channeling Buffalo Bill, which tells loyal Quiznos employee Scott that he "wants him to do something." Instead of freaking out that he's being hit on by a sentient toaster, Scott responds, "Nope, not doing that again. That burned," while looking at his crotch.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Scott the Toaster Fucker.
He started working here after he got fired from Panera for molesting panini presses.
The toaster continues its harassment with "We both enjoyed that" before begging the reluctant Scott to "put it in me." It feels like a coercive S&M relationship, and it looks like everyone involved, including the viewer now, could use some therapy. As Scott's resolve weakens and a porno groove starts playing, the toaster thrusts itself into the climax of the commercial with demands for Scott to advertise Quiznos' new sandwich in a sexy voice. As he speaks, we get shots of long, firm sandwiches rising up like they're getting ready for a honey mustard bukkake. The spot ends with the toaster languishing in an afterglow of sexual satisfaction. It would be smoking a cigarette if not for health code regulations.
"I'm pregnant. I'm keeping it."
The ad is obviously tongue-in-cheek, but that doesn't make it any less confusing. The average person doesn't choose a sandwich franchise based on its ability to lampoon porn movies -- that's why Jared from Subway didn't imply that all his weight loss made his erection look bigger (and it surely did -- are you picturing it?). And joke or not, the only thing people will have in mind the next time they visit Quiznos won't be the low prices, it will be mental images of employees sticking their dicks in sadistic sandwich-making equipment. The same equipment that's going to toast the sandwiches they're suddenly second guessing their orders of.
Puccho's Schoolgirl Fantasy Gone Wrong
Far be it for us to criticize the makers of Puccho candies for hiring sexy pop stars to shill their snacks -- America has a long and proud history of selling sugar with sugar. But a series of bizarre choices turned what could have been a fun, cute commercial into something that seems designed to appeal to sex offenders, and only sex offenders.
Manufacturer UHA hired Japanese pop group AKB48 to dress up in skimpy skirts and lasciviously pass a candy from mouth to mouth. It's kind of sexy if you turn the sound off ...
If you're into that kind of thing.
... but crank it up and let the confusion begin. Not only have they chosen a song that sounds like the theme to a cartoon for 10-year-old girls, but every pass of the candy is marked by a disembodied voice squeaking "Pu ... ccho!" Sometimes it tries to sound erotic, while other times it seems to be on the verge of tears, and either way you end up feeling dirty.
Then there's the fact that these girls all look like they're about 14 years old, and that's because they very well could be. It's hard to keep track of the band's 89 members, but some of them are as young as 12, which is apparently Japan's age of consent for being turned into a sexualized marketing gimmick. The jumpy, jarring editing that makes you feel as if you're spinning in the teacups at a horrifying amusement park in a schizophrenic anime fan's mind doesn't help matters.
Zoom out far enough and they transform into actual cartoons.
It's not hard to see how an ad about cute pop stars basically kissing each other was greenlit, but everything about it makes us feel like it's teaching pedophiles what the perfect treat to lure their victims with is. "Hey, sex offenders! You like young girls, and young girls will love our candy! Do we have to spell it out for you?"
Tecmo's Random Disembodied Boobs
The marketing auteurs behind the release of the 2009 video game Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 decided that subtlety was for chumps and nailed a set of boobs to a random wall for passersby to play with, because screw it, happy hour beers aren't going to drink themselves.
Even truck nuts make more sense.
You can actually kind of follow their reasoning if you're a horny teenage boy with poor logic skills. You see, the game included a revolutionary new innovation certain to forever change the face, or at least the boners, of gaming. Players could -- wait for it -- manually jiggle the characters' breasts. Tecmo clearly has its finger on the pulse of the gaming audience, although precisely where they're measuring that pulse from is a question best left unanswered.
Putting aside the question of why they decided to advertise the game's jiggle physics instead of the gameplay, graphics, story, or literally any of the reasons people actually play video games, we're not sure why they thought the best way to advertise this "feature" was with a display that didn't tell you anything about it. It's like advertising a burger joint by nailing a cow to a wall. It's such a random choice that you can't even tell what it's there for. If the video of passersby is any indication, most people seemed to think it was meant to be furtively stroked like a rare animal at the zoo.
See how nobody's looking anywhere near the tiny print way down in the corner that's the only indication that this is even an advertisement? But even then, what's the connection they're going to make to the game? Even the horniest gamer would have trouble getting aroused by a pair of rigid, disembodied breasts the color of Commander Data. If against all odds he was turned on, his thought process would not be "Now that I have an erection, I'm going to go buy this video game!"
"This is Pokemon, right?"
No gamer, or human being in general for that matter, is so desperately lonely that his only sources of sexual stimulation are video games and the world's weirdest glory hole. Gamers have Internet connections, and literally every set of boobs they can access on the Internet is more appealing than what looks like a serial killer's art project. Who was this supposed to appeal to, plaster casting fetishists?
A Seasoning Brand's Sexed-Up Dead(?) Animals
Rachachuros is a Thai seasoning brand. Seasoning is used on meat. Meat is slang for penis. Penises are used to have sex with women. Women are made of flesh and bone. Therefore, meat is sexy.
We could make a pork joke, but do you really want us to?
If you followed that logic, you're the creator of this ad and/or an animal-themed serial killer. Shockingly, these are not PSAs from PETA, but a series of advertisements that claim to show the "temptation of taste." That's right, a series.
Now we get to write cock jokes, too. Hooray.
Correct us if we're wrong, but the "temptation of taste" usually refers to the desire to eat delicious but unhealthy food, not the desire to perform cunnilingus on a chicken that's been roasted and yet somehow not only still lives, but craves sexual satisfaction in a way it never used to. Hell, we're not even sure how someone into bestiality would be into this -- the fact that the animals are about five seconds away from being devoured asks the mind to combine sex and the consumption of living creatures in a way that anyone who isn't Hannibal Lecter will find disgusting.
"I want you to stuff me."
Are we supposed to look at a duck posing like a pinup girl and become overwhelmed with a hunger for poultry? Who has ever thought to themselves, "This pork is pretty good, I guess, but I sure wish it was gazing at me like it wants the D," and how do we get them on some sort of watch list?
6 Hour Power Gives You Blow Jobs
We know it's a lot to ask for the producers of an energy drink that's basically legal meth to have a nuanced understanding of subtlety and symbolism, but this ad for 6 Hour Power is just ... weird. Even for this list.
It starts off by practically zooming up the skirt of a receptionist whose attire is highly inappropriate for all but the best workplace environments. As she considers fellating a pen, she's called into her boss' office. "It's time," he announces, and as she bounces her barely covered ass in, it's clear that the time is blow job o'clock.
Aka your 9:30 appointment with Mr. Johnson.
It's a piece of filmmaking that makes Triumph of the Will look ambiguous. The boss is bouncing up and down on his squeaky chair while grunting out "So fast... it's working ... I can feel it!"
"It ... it would be rather worrisome if you couldn't."
But it turns out that the man is merely drinking a confusingly named Stacker 2 6 Hour Power, which promises "Extreme energy! Feel it fast! Energy that lasts!" Plot, meet twist. In a final baffling shot, the man stands and declares to his secretary, "Now I'm ready!" For what? Now are you going to fuck your employee?
Exactly what kind of business is this man running?
The company's vice president of marketing claims that if you see anything sexual in this commercial, you're the one who's the sicko. She insists that it's "the theater of the mind" and that the secretary is dressed no differently from any other white-collar office worker.
We have to admire her ability to spew mountains of bullshit with a straight face, but come on. The question isn't what's going on here; it's why they thought this would make anyone buy their drink. What, you chug it and you'll magically get a hummer from a secretary who wandered off the set of a porno? Or does it give you the energy you need to actually have sex? Or are they trying to say that the experience of drinking it is just like getting a blow job? Guys, if that were true, trust us: You wouldn't need to advertise.
Find more from Amanda at her blog and on Twitter, and she would like to thank Codie Martin and A.C. Grimes for their suggestions. Sam would like to thank his friend Jordanna for providing so many awkward screenshots. Find more from him at the Hilltop Views or follow him on Twitter.
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Related Reading: If you prefer your innuendo accidental, these retro ads have what you need. Cartoon kids talking about skinless weiners are pretty terrible, and so are these creepy children's cartoons. Oh hey, and we've got these r-rated Disney easter eggs too.