How Nudity, As An Effective Marketing Strategy, May Or May Not Be Accepted In Different Cultures

By Rene Forster | Last Updated July 24, 2012

In light of recent events that occurred in Süderlügum, Germany, where 250 nude shoppers took advantage of the free shopping spree worth 270 EU (337 USD), the author wonders how other cultures or societies deal with it if they adopted the same strategy.

Rene Forster

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It’s simply amazing to see to what ends we would go for freebies. There are those that would collect coupons just to stave off a few dollars here and there. There was even a man who lived on coupons exclusively for one whole year and wasn’t allowed to even touch money. 1 Some would keep their eyes constantly peeled for any discounts, specials and other promotions from their favorite stores. And then there are those that would throw dignity and shame out the window and go shopping naked.

Such was the case of a new supermarket called Priss, located in Süderlügum, North Frisia, as they opened their doors for the first time. The supermarket’s manager, Nils Sterndorff, hit pay dirt in free publicity when he promised €270 to the first 100 nude customers. The response was a big surprise as more than 200 showed up that chilling morning, fell in line, undressed and started filling their carts. While this was going on, there were lots of TV cameras following them around. Sterndorff was actually surprised at the response to his promotion. He was expecting about 10 or so shoppers would take him up on it. Well, he apparently underestimated his clientele. He had to allow them in by batches of 20. The police (yes, they were there too) counted a total of 250 nude shoppers. 2

Nils simply upped the ante by requiring total nudity in order to qualify

In all probability, Nils Sterndorff got the idea from similar events that happened in Russia in 2009 3 and Madrid, Spain in 2011. However, in both instances, shoppers had their underwear on. Nils simply upped the ante by requiring total nudity in order to qualify.

Why did so many respond to the ad? There could be a lot of factors involved but the general consensus was that they mainly took advantage of the price. Alcohol and confectionary are cheaper on the German side of the border. 4  Naturally enough, the nude shoppers hoarded the liquor and beverages aisle first. Another reason would probably be the huge value of freebies. Two hundred and seventy euros is big. That would amount to: 328.995 USD, 2,552.12 HKD, 415.882 NZD, 417.392 SGD, and 13,799.60 PHP (as of the 15th of July, 2012).

In our modern world news gets around incredibly fast. Popularity can happen virtually overnight what with all the social media such as Youtube, Instagram, Google+ and Facebook available. Hence, as shown by the little event in Süderlügum, a new business establishment became popular. Question is, can such an effective marketing strategy be applied elsewhere?

In the UK, things like these are mostly regarded as entertainment and, apparently, work very well in getting the word out. Of course there are areas were this this type of event is frowned upon but that’s about as far as most would go. Folks are mostly liberal enough to laugh about it. In the US, however, people have mixed reactions as seen in some reviews and comments. 5, 6 If anyone does it they can expect a first class accommodation at the local county jail at least. Although there are a few exceptions, the general public sees this as offensive. The different states all have laws that protect societal order and morality. Statutes on public indecency reflecting moral disapproval of people appearing in the nude among strangers in public places actually followed a line of State laws, going back to 1831, which banned public nudity. 7

Other conservative countries have very a similar stand point as the US, which is frowning on public nudity. If that was done, say, in Manila, Philippines, the initial reaction of bystanders would be to stand clear or move away from the nude shoppers. This is going to be closely followed by outcries from politicians (after gauging what their constituents feel) and the church. Not long ago, the divorce bill and RH Bill caused quite a few dramatic outbursts from the religious sector. This kind of event would stir up a whole bunch of hornet’s nest especially if the government doesn’t condemn it.

On the other hand, there are those who would argue that they are protected from the law just as long as no one has been harmed by their actions. In lieu of this line of thought, there have been many legal movements, motions and appeals to legalize public nudity. Up to this date, they still remain highly debatable. Legislators are finding it hard to prove public nudity as offensive and harmful per se to anyone. To legally prohibit harm, it would have to be wrongful. For instance, we can’t be ‘wrongfully’ harmed when we subject ourselves freely to rugby matches or rock climbing where we can get seriously hurt but not wrongfully harmed. Even the claims on the negative effect it has on children, as is the usual argument, is grossly unsubstantiated. Oftentimes, legislators revert to their PR machinery to emphasize public nudity as being an immoral act based on cultural norms. Then again, who really defines the norm of a culture? Many Britons were offended as Mary Wollstonecraft fought for women’s rights. 8  Martin Luther King Jr. also offended many white people in 1963 when he walked the streets of Birmingham. 9 His actions would later  earn him the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize.

Both these individuals were obviously not the norm of their society and culture yet their views and principles have been and are now widely accepted, practiced, and even enforced across the world. How could this happen? What does it take for a community to accept something that’s taboo? Could it that they merely voiced out what many actually felt or did they have to campaign and convince others of their beliefs? If there was someone like them acting in behalf of public nudity, could it then be seen as a soon-to-be norm of a society or culture as well?

If this was accepted by a governing body of a country such as the Philippines, a country deeply rooted in Christianity, what changes can be expected? What would the Church do if anything? Can it be argued that they cannot do much about it since Priss is practically in Germany where Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI, hails from?

From such a small marketing strategy or gimmick, many questions arise. Then again, if you were offered that much groceries for free, chances are you wouldn’t be thinking of the “what if’s”. All that would matter to you would be the “Now”. …Or?

 




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