Grrrl Power

The girls of 3iYing – a market and design strategy firm that specializes in marketing to girls ages 15 to 25, have some news for marketers who blindly follow the sex sells rule. In their “The Girl Improved” column in Business Week, they specifically take on American Apparel and Abercrombie & Fitch.

Although the maxim “sex sells” may have ruled for years, from a girl’s perspective the erotica in marketing is excessive, dirty, uninformative, and most importantly, a huge turnoff.
If the marketing community thinks this is what girls find hip and edgy, then they grossly underestimate how mature and cultured we are. Girls’ aesthetic tastes and relationship requirements are sophisticated. So if you want your messages to be relevant, give us more than animal urges.
Erotic marketing isn’t sexy, it’s raunchy. Modern girls know the difference. Raunchy is when the message is strictly graphic and physical, when there is no mystery, romance, sincerity or deeper meaning. Raunchy campaigns communicate only one idea—”girl wants some”—using the same visual messaging typical of pornography. Raunchy is a cheap play for attention. It shows lack of imagination and depth in the people and brands that use it.

Lack of imagination? Who? Us?

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. Absolutely casual concurrence