Too sexy seems like one of those irrational complaints, like this is “too good;” you’re moving “too fast;” and that shawty is “too trill.” Sexy is sexy. It’s the intangible ability of something to arouse within us a psychosomatic response of an illicit nature. Sexy rubs up against taboo. Sexy is an allusion to the forbidden. Sexy is sexy and anything sexier would be risque. How, then, could something ever be too sexy, so sexy it supersedes the inherent limit of sexy as a term? Easy, if it exists in the sexless UK.
According to the Telegraph, a French advertisement created for the soft drink Orangina is being criticized by children’s charities and equal rights groups in the UK for being “too sexy.” The opponents’ claims: Orangina is primarily aimed at kids and young people and this sexy ad is too provocative for that demographic.
The implicit assumptions in this statement are tri-fold. First, that Orangina, as a soft drink, is primarily intended for consumption by kids. Second, that it is unethical to use sexually driven imagery to attract the attention of children. That syllogism, alone, would justify any complaints against Orangina for using its “Naturellment Pulpeuse” campaign to attract attention. The third assumption of critics’ claim, however, is the most problematic: Orangina, because it is a soft drink, cannot increase its target audience through edgier marketing.
Obviously, in a free market economy stagnation, particularly for a brand, equals death. As a subsidiary for the Dr. Pepper Snapple brand Orangina has rarely, if ever, mattered as a legitimate alternative to Pepsi, Coke, Sprite or even Fanta. It’s really only known for its bulbous bottle and unintentional phonetic connection to the word, “vagina.” It’s always the punch line never the punch. The growth of Orangina as a brand depends upon Dr. Pepper Snapple’s ability to make it a desirable beverage to not only obese children but also obese adults.
An analogous case study to Orangina’s current image makeover is what Sprite did in the 1990s. Sprite was always the corny alternative to 7UP through the late 1980s. In 1994 Sprite joined with the growing popularity of the hip-hop movement and changed its slogan from the naively youthful, “I Like the Sprite in You” to the more aggressive and hip, “Obey your thirst.” Sprite aligned with popular athletes of the time and reminded its increasingly savvy audience, “Image is Nothing; Thirst is Everything.” The result borders on the legendary. Who even knows what happened to 7UP until Orlando Jones tried to revive the brand with an even more sophomoric “Make 7UP Yours” campaign almost ten years later. Orlando who? Eggsactly.
But Sprite used alternative culture to make its product more appealing to a young adult audience. Orangina is relying on sex. Well, I see your Jerry Falwell and raise a Bill Clinton. That depends on what your definition of “sex” is. If it’s cartoon animals in bikinis frolicking in a forest and coming together through the mutual appeal of Orangina, then you’re right; Orangina is relying on sex to sell its product. But if commercial expression can’t use humor and inspired animation to dance around taboos, then the medium is left no latitude to become anything more than the selling of commodities. That would be the true tragedy. That shit would just be 2 sad.