B2B Work


9 Responses to “”

  1. Claire Barker

    Oh Doug, until 30 seconds ago, I thought I’d found my Holy Grail of agencies. But seriously, seriously. A scantily clad SJ is your answer to distraction theories? How about a cool frothy glass of beer, or a beautiful white sandy beach? 1/10 – must try harder…

  2. Doug Kessler


    We did think and talk quite a bit about this before publishing and decided that Scarlett was exactly the right image to make the point as forcefully as possible.

    The ‘pro’ camp argued that:

    – We’re not using Scarlett to sell stuff. We’re making the point that the world is full of sexualised messages and images and that’s what we marketers are competing with.

    – A less charged image of desirability (beer, beach) wouldn’t have anywhere near the power of this image. The line in the eBook asks the reader to hold their last ad next to this image. A beer or beach just wouldn’t deliver on this thought experiment.

    – Yes, we could have chosen a male sex symbol but this would have been transparently PC when the B2B tech audience is so overwhelmingly male.

    – The comparison in the eBook says, “…that pesky company who makes better widgets than you is not the problem. Scarlet Johannsen is the problem.” This needs a person to pay it off.

    – Is it sexist to be candid about the fact that sex is popular culture’s most distracting distraction?

    – A less sexual image of Scarlett would miss the point: in this image she is actively seducing. Marketers are not just competing with a million distractions – we’re competing with things that actively seduce.

    The ‘con’ camp argued:

    – None of that matters if this might offend some people.

    – In a world still full of sexism, we don’t need to add to it by giving this kind of thing exposure.

    – We could have had Scarlett on a red carpet instead of in her underwear and made the same point with only sightly less impact.

    At the time, I felt that the ‘pro’ argument was more compelling. Now that a clearly intelligent reader has taken offense, I’m not so sure.

    I do apologise.

  3. Claire Barker

    You see my brain completely understands – and agrees – with every ‘pro’ point put forward. But my heart just drops. Can there ever be a place for sexualisation and objectification? I guess this is just one area which will continue to polarise opinion. However, my admiration continues to grow for you/Velocity in light of the detailed and sincere response. Apology humbly accepted.

  4. Doug Kessler

    Well, you’re being very gracious — now I’m the uneasy one! We really may have screwed this up.

    For every person kind enough to tell us they were offended, there must be dozens who were similarly offended but didn’t bother to let us know.

    One way to look at it is that aiming to make an impact carries with it the risk of causing offense. Another way is that we’ve behaved like jerks and got called out on it.

    I’m honestly not sure which is true here. But it does feel like leaving Scarlet in — along with this discussion — is the right thing to do. (Rather than covering our tracks by removing the image and this discussion).

    If anyone out there is reading this… do let us know what you think. Keep Scarlet or choose an image that doesn’t sexualise/objectify a human being?

    Claire’s point is clearly valid. Are we neanderthals in disguise or just riding the edge?

  5. Jo

    I have met you before many moons ago (2005?) and wanted to say hi… I loved your work back then and am loving your web content right now. It’s good to see you putting your money where your mouths are and making B2B marketing really work… You guys were destined for B2B greatness.. Doug..love your inimitable style & if you don’t mind will have a gander through your stuff. Not that I am not working, well not in the sense that enables me to buy lots of new shoes & handbags (been breeding….) but I might like to dip a toe back in one day…. and I am keen to know what’s been going on in B2B. Do you have an office in Sydney?!
    Ps love Scarlett

  6. Doug Kessler

    Hi Jo!
    I thought I recognised that name on the Manifesto download list.
    Congrats on the breeding and thanks for the compliments.
    An office in Sydney… now that’s a great idea.

  7. Rachel Brown

    I guess the size of the readers problem and their readiness to solve it will help determine how much of a distraction Scarlett is? If you’re personal motivators are triggered, i.e. the egotist who wants the latest thing, the efficiency nut who is constantly annoyed at lost productivity, then the headline that says I’m good and you should care because you need or want me, will get around Scarlett, even if its book marked until tomorrow when Scarlett’s memory has faded or the teenage girl has come clean?

  8. Mark Bolitho

    Hi Doug

    A funny one this, in both senses of the word.

    Firstly, my girlfriend goes to bed similarly dressed – Scarlett could simply be ready to turn in, or have just got up so there’s an element of ‘the eye of the beholder’ there. Personally, I didn’t see it as overtly sexual (v attractive, yes), perhaps due to the attire of my other half at bedtime, who looks EXACTLY like Scarlett.

    Whether an image of her on a catwalk or as above, I think it makes little difference – the point is well made either way.

    Personally speaking, I’m not easily distracted when on a mission and agree with Rachel here. There’s a time and place for Scarlett, and Spurs, and all the other stuff.

    Nice work, keep it up,

  9. Al Williams

    I had an in-cling that you might have gone down the route of the ‘sexy lady’ and alienated at least a few people. I see your point and usage, but it is a little ironic when considering point 1 of your ebook.

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