Home - AdRespect Advertising Media Program
leftendAbout the AdRespect Advertising Media ProgramAdRespect Advertising Media Program Ad LibraryAdRespect Advertising Media Program ResourcesDonate to the AdRespect Advertising Media ProgramContact AdRespectJoin the AdRespect Advertising Media ProgramMember logon to the AdRespect Advertising Media ProgramAdRespect Advertising Media Program
spacer
paid advertisement

AdRespect Ad Library Profile

View larger version of the video Members Only!  Download video!
Save as a Favorite

Company: Virgin Group
    View Company Scorecard / Contact Company
Brand: Virgin Mobile
Ad Title: Butt Grab
Business Category: Telecommunications
Media Outlets: Television
Country: United States
Region: North America
Agency: Leagas-Delaney
Year: 2002
Target: Mainstream
Ad Spotter: Robert Stein
none

Theme(s)

Homo-queasy

Sexual Predator/Practice

Theme Breakdown

AdRespect Score: 
none

With its phone service introduced to the U.S., over the summer, this ad from MTV parodies 1950s-era instructional films and shows how not to react when someone gives you a phone -- two men hug and one grabs the other's rear, then a shrill buzzer sounds and a red "No!" appears on screen.

Simultaneously in the UK, Virgin Mobile also began airing an ad in which Haitian-American musician Wyclef Jean is arrested by a Southern U.S. sheriff and thrown into prison. As the inmates shower together, an enormous prisoner tells Jean to pick up a bar of soap on the floor -- a reference to prison rape.

When it was just a few weeks old, that ad had registered a few negative comments to the ITC -- something a Virgin Mobile spokesman jokingly refers to as "poor performance." The spot, from Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R, London, may come to the U.S. early next year.

Other ad references to predatory gay men and male rape have already made appearances this year in the U.S. for 7Up, Saturn and IKEA.

The ad is a similar approach to a more successful butt grab effort from MTV spot.

Virgin spokesman Steven Day dismisses the soap joke as just a "nominal gay reference" and isn't worried about gay backlash. "We've used a fair amount of overt gay imagery. We're generally well received in the gay community and we don't treat minorities as minorities." He says the ad was put through focus groups that included gay people "to make sure the sensitivities were okay. And we had some gay people working on it too."

Day explains, "A lot of our ads are edgy and follow in the tradition of Virgin. The Virgin brand is about humor. But our aim is not to shock, it is to get a smile."

Virgin Mobile also recently carried a billboard ad in the UK featuring two soldiers holding hands, about the time England began allowing openly gay soldiers to serve.

"We would argue that the debate about homosexuality (in advertising) has moved on," says Day at Virgin Mobile. In fact, he adds, "To not allow a homosexual reference for humor is giving it special preference. We think people are grown enough to see it as a joke and not homophobic or racist,"

As the three Virgin Mobile ads indicate, the Virgin Group brand empire has a long history of leveraging gay themes in ads as well as seeking the gay market. Directed by brash British billionaire Richard Branson, Virgin Atlantic Airways was the first airline to target gays in the U.S. in 1994, and Virgin Cola brought the first same-sex kiss commercial to America in 1998.

none

Alessandro Cintoli , Rome, Italy
I couldn't help bursting into laughter at this one, especially when the fake instructional film (with off-syncs, cuts and all) shows how to properly react to the presentation of a gift from another man. I found that hilarious, especially in the light of the typically American "safe distance" concept in conversation between men (arm's length, for those who are unfamiliar) and the general attitude towards touching and hugging, let alone grabbing butts (or even kissing in public, something even my American boyfriend finds discomforting when visiting Italy). But the hand play that follows, that would make ANYONE laugh. I think the commercial plays on homophobia instead of advocating it. It surely ISN'T gay vague, but it is funny.

Todd Hill , Montreal
What an utterly dumb-assed commercial. Not really offensive but not funny either. Very amateur. And thanks for the heads-up, Commercial Closet! I was not aware of these Vigin ads when they ran 'cuz they were not in my market. However now that I know about them, I will be sure to assiduously avoid purchasing any product or service with the Virgin label and to recommend to everyone I ever know or meet to do the same.

Benny , Madrid, Spain
I haven't actually seen the ad, but if it's anything like the storyboard it's boring and ugly, too.

George Zdansky , Dallas, TX
I learned about your website and this ad in this week's addition of the local gay newspaper (The Dallas Voice). Read with interest about this ad and others. I must say this ad is really sophmoric and really not funny. It kinda makes you wonder just WHO in the Virgin Group of companies makes the final decision to shell out the bucks on this kinda ad. I think they got a bum (no pun intended) deal on this one!!!!

Russell Williams , Hanover, PA
Isn't this ad just a humorous look at how weird emotions are for men? Don't tell me that no straight man ever had an impulse to execute a butt grab (other than team members in public athletic events). They just substitute something else, like a fancy handshake, because they saw the instructional film. I agree with Signor Cintori, lighten up, it's funny. One criticism: the hand in the storyboard seems to know its way around a glute too well. More awkwardness would have been better suited to the instructional film genre.

Irvin Schlebotnik , Bakersfield, CA
I agree with Alessandro on this one. Here I think the mere presence of the 'instructions'is so ridiculous as to cause the homophobia to be laughed at.

Tim , San Francisco
This spot made me laugh and the hulabaloo over it makes me laugh even more. Would it be OK if it was a man grabbing a woman's ass or vice-versa? It's improper behavior regardless of orientation. If this ad gets your panties in a bundle you ought to try on a new pair of panties.

Richard Phillips , Hollywood, CA
In the grand scheme of things, this ad is rather harmless. Tacky to be sure, but harmless for the most part. Stillm one wonders who's the market target for this Virgin product spot? Certainly not bill-paying, educated, employed adults!!!

Fredrick Bertz , Tarzana, CA
This was such a great parody!!! Its tongue-in-cheek satire had me laughing out loud. It parodied not only those 1950's era health films which teach one how to act properly, but also American concepts of how men should relate to each other. Yes, the flashing NO over the butt grab was a bit overdone, but in order to highlight the satire, you have to go beyond just a hug. Furthermore, as Virgin's target audience is generation X and Y, that generation will see the satire of their parents' and grandparents' world without seeing this as a gay negative. They probably won't see anything gay abot the two men at all. Frankly, I was indifferent to the ad on a gay level, but as a cultural satire, I loved it.

Bobby , Dallas, TX
Straight men don't want their asses grabbed. Just like I don't want women to grab my ass. The target audience is mostly STRAIGHT. People, we live in a straight world, deal with it. I'm gay and I have no problem with straight humor like this.

Terrence , Alberta, Canada
This is a very creative satirical ad. I found it hilarious. To me, the idea is clear that when you receive such a gift, such as this Virgin phone, you will likely be overwhelmed and impulsively hug and even grab the butt of the gift giver. In the ad, when the buzzer sounds, the startled guys pull apart and the guy doing the hugging and grabbing seems surprised that he supposedly did something wrong. The correct but exaggerated "cool cat" handshake is now funny because it keeps a safe distance between the two while contrasting it with the taboo ass grab. This ad only hints at fears about male to male intimacy. The "correct" handshake is an over compensation for the ass grab, as the genuine hug by itself would also be considered appropriate. I don't think that this ad could be considered gay negative because the gift receiver is clearly not a predator just because of the ass grab. He just was apparently so touched by the gift that he wanted to "touch" the giver back. Ass grabbing between anybody as a sign of gratitude for a gift is simply not appropriate.

Joe , Mars, PA
I think it's a great commercial and not anti-gay at all. If you pay attention you see the reaction of the guys when told that the butt grab is wrong. both are shocked to hear that that's not what to do. And the hand thing at the end that was just very, very funny.

none



Gay Pride
Company: Virgin Group
Brand: Virgin Atlantic
Country: United States
Region: North America
Year: 1999



Sleeper
Company: Virgin Group
Brand: Virgin Atlantic
Country: South Africa
Region: Africa
Year: 2004

AdRespect Score:


Who Couldn't Use Another 6 Inches?
Company: Virgin Group
Brand: Virgin Atlantic
Country: United States
Region: North America
Year: 2003



Exotic Dancer
Company: Virgin Group
Brand: Virgin Cola
Country: United Kingdom
Region: Europe
Year: 2001

AdRespect Score:


Gay Marriage
Company: Virgin Group
Brand: Virgin Cola
Country: United States
Region: North America, US Regional
Year: 1998

AdRespect Score:


RuPaul
Company: Virgin Group
Brand: Virgin Cola
Country: United States
Region: North America, US Regional
Year: 1998

AdRespect Score:


Sexy Silhouette
Company: Virgin Group
Brand: Virgin Cola
Country: France
Region: Europe
Year: 1998

AdRespect Score:


Votre Culture
Company: Virgin Group
Brand: Virgin Megastores
Country:
Region: Europe
Year: 2007



Are You In The Best Hands?
Company: Virgin Group
Brand: Virgin Mobile
Country: United Kingdom
Region: Europe
Year: 2006

AdRespect Score:


Christmahanukwanzakah Help Line
Company: Virgin Group
Brand: Virgin Mobile
Country: United States
Region: North America
Year: 2005

AdRespect Score:

none

Submit An Ad Test An Ad Rate An Ad Post Comments
space
© 2001 - 2014 AdRespect Advertising Education Program. All rights reserved.
Other works which appear on this site are the property of their various owners and are used for educational purposes, with no commercial intent.
space
Legal Statement and Terms of Use
Designed & Powered by Videotex


paid advertisement
paid advertisement