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Friday, Aug. 31, 2007 at 1:07 pm

Would You Buy a Bra From This Man?

By Holly Buchanan
August 31st, 2007

Men, I’m going to let you in on a little known secret: most women are wearing the wrong size bra.Women, I’m going to let you in on a little known secret as well: most women are wearing the wrong size bra.

Zafu.com is a company actually providing a solution to this problem. But is their advertising helping or hurting them?

Would you buy a bra from this man?

This ad on YouTube has gotten mixed reactions. Some women find it funny, some find it offensive.

(In case you want to see the comments on the YouTube page.)

What do you think? Let me know in the comments. In the meantime, here are some of the pros and cons from my perspective…

Cons:

- The “spokesman” for Zafu.com is a geeky, kind of creepy, young guy in a lab coat, making weird boob gestures with his hands. It’s a powerful image — one of the reasons why the spot is so funny — but is this really the first mental image they want associated with their brand?

- As the Heath brothers point out in their book Made to Stick, some companies suffer from “The Curse of Knowledge.” In other words, we’re all so familiar with the benefits of our own brand, it’s easy to forget others don’t share this knowledge. Zafu.com has this whole “scientific” set of questions they ask in order to guide women into the right size bra. But, as someone whose never heard of Zafu.com, I didn’t know that. The only information this video gives is the tag-line at the end (“The perfect bra in 3 minutes”). And saying “It works better online” isn’t entirely clear. Are they saying that having a creepy guy feeling you up works better online? For the person unfamiliar with Zafu.com, the whole scientific tie-in falls flat, so to say.

- They could very well be offending the same new customers they’re trying to attract.

Pros:

- I can’t speak for everyone, but I thought it was funny. It got my attention. I love the unexpected twist of the woman karate kicking the guy’s head off. The use of humor definitely gives it a “viral” aspect.

- For customers already familiar with Zafu.com, it makes sense. They already know and understand the scientific fitting tie-in. Once armed with that information, the spot makes more sense and, in my opinion, is less offensive.

Click Me

This video was brought to my attention by Bryan Eisenberg, whose wife is a big fan of Zafu.com. This is the email they sent her (click thumbnail to view), introducing her to the video.

As I said, I think the video is much less offensive for existing customers. But the whole point of creating a video that will go viral is that new, potential customers will see it.

Suggestion for improvement…

Do a better job of explaining the scientific fitting and how that is actually the brand’s Unique Value Proposition. “The perfect bra in 3 minutes” is a nice final tag-line, but inserting information earlier that better explains the fitting process to women unfamiliar with Zafu.com would help tremendously.

What was your reaction to the video?

Add Your Comments

Comments (41)

  1. There’s not much else that I dread as much as having to get a new bra. So with that in mind, the tag line at the end caught my attention (3 minutes…sounds easy enough). The only thing is that the commercial grossed me out. I just wanted to move on. So I moved on and didn’t click. (Also, the name “zafu” sounds suspicious, but that’s just me)

  2. You know — I am not sure what to think. It was funny to me especially the high kick — but knocking off head might’ve been a little much. However, it piqued my curiosity enough that I went to Zafu.com.

    Upon landing at Zafu… what do we see? Jeans? Now that’s a mismatch. After a couple of seconds, you’ll notice “bras” tab and link. It just says “Get my bra” or “Bras.” Zafu would be better off having “Find your perfect bra in three minutes” on the home page — otherwise its home page makes me think it’s another bra shopping site where you look for bras and pray you pick the right one.

  3. Meryl, you make an excellent point about the gap in momentum from the ad to the Zafu page.

  4. Never having heard of Zafu before, my very first response was to wonder why they were using a “nerd” type, who is uncomfortable with his topic, as the main character.

    Women are buying the wrong sizes because THEY aren’t always comfortable enough to ask for help from salespeople they don’t know. Try asking a teenage employee at Fashion Bug for help with plus size bras. They’re not trained to help. Some stores have “bra ladies” who are specially trained to fit women. At Victoria’s Secret they occasionally have women on hand in the dressing rooms who can do fittings and make suggestions. They’re all confident, not shy, and know their merchandise. This, in turn, increases sales.

    Even thought the video is funny, I’d be kicking him in the head for just being wimpy and stupid. Had he come across with confidence, he would have earned my respect and trust much faster.

    Do they not know what women go through when bra shopping? Some research into our thoughts and feelings might have helped.

  5. I thought it was funny and who doesn’t want to find the perfect bra?

  6. It seems to me that the reason for the ackward, stuttering scientist is simply to bring more attention to the fact that women are often daunted by the idea of shopping for a ‘perfect’ bra. It can be a chore. In addition, many women consider it a very personal experience and wouldn’t want to discuss their body with any stranger. He represents that feeling that hangs over a women’s head. In that sense, it makes perfect sense why a women would then go online to Zafu.com to (1) find the perfect fit and (2) do it without a strangers helping (or prying) eyes.

  7. If there’s a multitude of similar themed adverts then it would be quite engaging. These would show different sides to the same advertiser. For me having a robot person would have been better as I thought the gross out part does not do the brand any good.

    I’d say as well that it does not mention why using the product/service is so good. The 3 minutes is the by-line.

    One could say, well at least someone’s asking me about my bra size or perhaps I don’t want just anyone to ask me. This could have been used in the ad to better effect. It’s a brave attempt, but one I don’t think will get the attention it needs. They ought to have worked better with test focus groups.

  8. I found it disturbing. Not only is it graphic violence, associated with women’s body parts, the head falls in front of a woman walking a baby in a stroller. This is BAD advertising. I think I’ll diss it on Lipsticking. It deserves to be buried in the backyard, under the dog poop. And so does Zafu. If I need a new bra, I’ll go to a woman… so far, men just seem to be making uncomfortable breast coverings that all hook in the back…why is that???

  9. Eventually, ZAFU might win.
    The outrageousness of this ad, may get the attention of enough women to want to have a look at the website. But for all practical reasons the ad has become ‘creative’.

    And like all ‘creative’ ads, they’ve completely missed the point. Which is: How does a woman get the exact fitting bra? That’s the question. Now Mr. Creative (and I’m betting this ad was done by a man) answer that question.

    Because once that question is answered, you can put your ‘creative’ layer on top. Instead this ad simply seeks to entertain. The geek, the karate girl, the talking dismembered head. All nice and creative, but it doesn’t answer the question at all.

  10. What I’d love to know is whether a woman was on the creative team behind this and how much say she had.

  11. Yvonne raises an interesting point about the violent act performed by the woman. It’s shock value, yes. But her reaction isn’t typical for women. As a mom, knowing the marketing nonsense my teenage daughter has already been subjected to, I’m not happy with her seeing an ad like this one. It’s not the kind of world I want for her, nor the kind of response I’d want her (or women) to think is acceptable.

    In other words, when did it become okay for marketing to be irresponsible?

  12. Seems people are waaaaay too critical about this viral. Its a little funny, a little clever and a little stupid at the same time, but most importantly – people – its a web video. It wasnt on primetime TV and to be honest it was incredibly mild by viral video standards.

    It seems they are going for the internet-youtube generation who would not blink an eye about this kind of video and who would think its a fun and goofy intro to site. Big no-no is the disconnect on the site not having a huge call out to the bra creation, but at least the do mention it and the jean fitting on the front page (and the feature is pretty darn cool, I might say).

    If you cant stand violence, make sure you stop watching TV – even cartoons from way back. It’s there. Its all over our TV and internet… its everywhere. If you look at this and see reality (the guys head is still talking when she kicks it off for godsakes) you really need a vacation.

  13. Fabulous feedback.

    I often laugh when marketers talk about “targeting women” – it’s as if they believe “women” all think and act alike. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    You can see from the above comments that there are widely varying responses to the video. When it comes to women’s reactions to advertising, never make assumptions.

  14. Holly,

    Great article – it’s rare to see such thoughful and insightful analysis on the internet. You make a bunch of really good points.

    Full disclosure – I work for zafu and this is our first entre into the world of viral marketing and videos.

    It’s interesting how people react to videos and the feedback we get. My experience is that feedback online tends to polarize. People either like what they see alot or simply hate it. I’ve seen this on all types of executions in all media all across the world. As you rightly point out, different segments of the population will also react to marketing in different ways. This is part of the fun of trying to get it right.

    We’ve had 2 million women come to zafu since we launched and there’s no doubt that the service itself works extremely well. I was surprised by the comments about people not seeing bras as there are pictures and no less than 3 references on our home page alone. Our UI testing certainly tells a different story.

    We took the view that doing an explanation video was not going to be much fun for anyone in this media. In addition, one of the biggest mistakes companies make is trying to communicate too much in each ad.

    So once again, thnaks for the feedback.
    Rob

  15. Hey Rob,

    Thanks so much for joining the disucssion! I was hoping someone from Zafu would stop by.

    You are in nice position – you actually have a product women find valuable. (too often companies try to save a mediocre product with marketing – you are meeting a true need and providing an obviously valuable service)

    Yes, many “viral efforts” are polarizing. My only concern is that the majority of your target audience is on the positive side. Dove’s campaign for real beauty really brought out the critics. A lot of people really hated it. But women sick of size “0″ models loved it. It was their opinion that counted.

    On your home page – I think the problem may be more that women don’t equate buying jeans with buying a bra. (I wouldn’t buy my jeans the same place I buy my lingerie) I understand there is a similar “fitting” issue, but in the minds of many women – they are two unrelated items. So when you see the most prevelant images – which are jeans, you thinkn “oops, wrong place”

    I couldn’t agree with you more on the mistake of trying to communicate too much in an ad. It is instant death if you have too many messages crammed into your ad. Simple and focused is the secret to success. I think the video does a great job of that. But a common thread in the comments is that they did not understand the real benefit you are offering. If they did, they may not have been as offended and would have actually clicked through to the site.

    You offer a great service. But from the video – the real value of the service isn’t obvious to someone who has never heard of you. (it’s also not a service a lot of others are providing – which is great for you – but the audience might neet a little more education on it – even just one more slide with a sentence explaining the benefit could have been enough to do the trick)

    Thanks for your input. I wish you much luck at Zafu.

    P.S. one of the questions I’ve received is “what was the gender of the creative team” – could you share that with our readers?

  16. Hi Holly,

    On reflection I’d agree that we may have strayed too far away from communicating benefits, but I’m not sure how we’d incorprate it in a viral piece without seeming to be preaching. I’m sure your readers will have their own ideas :-) . Our goal was to intrigue in a light hearted way. This is a fine balancing act.

    Regarding feedback. It’s been overwhelmingly positive with a few “offended” responses. My experience is that in general people that are disliking something are always more vocal.

    Gender of a team – hmm – interesting thought, but seriously our “creative” team is predoninatly women – see our bios page.

    Your site is really very good, so congrats to you on that!

    Rob

  17. Hi Rob,

    The first thing I did when you suggested to check the Bio’s was to look for their ages, because ever since I got ripped up for standing up against the violent act of kicking a man’s head off, I’ve felt very, very old.

  18. Hi Kim

    I gave up on age years ago as I have friends in their thirties who seem to have one foot in the grave and I know people in their sixties and seventies at our climbing gym who put most to shame.

    Our team spans from the early twenties through to me.

    Rob

    PS – he didn’t really get his head kicked off :-)

  19. Sorry, Didn’t mean to come off so harsh about the violence – my bad… but if you wandered around YouTube a bit, you see what I’m talking about. And thank god about his head, I was worried about that poor geeky boy ;)

  20. Hi Laura,

    No problem at all.

    The “poor geeky boy” is alive and well and living close by. No problem at all with your comments. We avoided using blood and tryed to make it look like some of those old science fiction films where it was obviously a guy in a fake suit. Most people I’ve seen viewing it, laugh at it.

    Now we’re being asked for more bra scientist movies!!

    Rob

  21. [...] has a very interesting analysis of the Zafu campaign, with its pros and its cons (Would You Buy a Bra From This Man?). Reader comments are also good to [...]

  22. Hi Rob,
    Im sure that the team from ‘Monty Python’ would have gotten a good giggle from the ad.
    I will be sticking it on my site over the next week.
    I happen to think that it was quite titillating, and keeping quite abreast of the other bra ads out there.
    Is it true that Zafu are creating a new bra named the ‘booby-trap’ ?

  23. Kraig,
    You’re too funny
    Keeping abreast and the booby trap indeed
    Rob

  24. I definitely don’t find it offensive. And it’s slightly funny. But I don’t get why the guy’s geeky. Far more creepy would be some sleazoid who’s perfectly comfortable asking a strange woman questions about her breasts.

    I think it could’ve been funnier if it happened in a bar, too, because expecting women in a bar to react well to “Excuse me, but can I ask you for details about your breasts?” is even more absurd than expecting it of a woman in a parking lot. But then I like absurdist humor.

  25. I still find it refreshing when a company is willing to take some chances and try some different techniques. Kudos.

    The fact that it isn’t an actual television commercial and instead seems to be aimed at the ‘YouTube’ audience is somthing that I think we should keep in mind when critiquing such things. The YouTube standards are so different.

    However, I wonder how many potential customers may be turned off by the spot not believing that this company is respectful of what they may want or need or how they feel about their bodies.

  26. I wish I had seen the video before reading your blog entry instead of vice versa, because it was hard to view the video objectively after already having read a lot of opinions on it.

    I did think it was pretty darn funny and memorable. It piqued my interest to check out the site and see what it’s about. I’m actually a little shocked that people really do get offended by this stuff. I can see zafu doing a series of follow up spoofs, kind of like what Geico does with the caveman storyline.

  27. Lisa,

    Looks like the video embedding was broken when you first saw the post, so thanks for bringing that to our attention. It’s fixed now.

    Anyway, it seems a lot of folks who didn’t like the commercial weren’t “offended” per se; they’re just questioning how effective it will be. One of Geico’s advantages lately is that they’re now an established brand. They can get away will being irrelevant and irreverent more often because people already know what they do. Although the Zafu ad is clever, it’s difficult to know what to glean what it is that the company does off of the ad alone.

    But you’re right. It does a great job at piquing interest. Should they switch directions and not do similar, follow-up ads? I’m not sure that’s the answer, either. Perhaps next time, though, it would be good to get a deeper sense of what the company has to offer women. One knows it has something to do with bras, but that’s about it.

    At least an ad like this works better online than it would on TV. If you’re watching it online, it’s easy enough to go to Zafu.com to see what they’re all about. Personally, I think it would be possible for them to have it both ways — i.e., show the benefits without leaving women with JUST the “creepy guy” imagery — so I see Holly’s article as a bit of tough love. She’s praising the service itself, while questioning the relevancy of the ad campaign.

    Either way, I think we’re all looking forward to what Rob and the rest of the Zafu team does next.

    (By the way… More analysis of Geico in another post VERY soon.)

  28. Robert makes some great points. At the end of the day, what matters is if this video leads to more bra sales. Does the content accurately and quickly convey the true benefits of buying a bra at Zafu.com for those who have no idea who Zafu is or what they do.

    But I do want to address one theme that has come up throughout the comments – “is this video offensive to women.” I’ve corresponded online and offline with many of you – and here’s what I’m hearing:

    Some women say there is nothing at all offensive. It’s funny and clever. It made me laugh out loud.

    Some women say it’s very offensive. Who would buy a bra or anything else from these folks?

    There is no right or wrong response. Some women are offended. some women aren’t. But you have to honor their opinions. If someone is not offended – they have every right to their feelings. If someone IS offended, it’s dangerous to just write them off as prude or not a member of “The YouTube generation.” It’s dangerous to tell them they are “wrong” for being offended.

    I’m referring here to marketing to women campaigns in general, not just Zafu.

    This is a HUGE issue when marketing to women. I find many women don’t speak out for the very fear that they will be put down or accused of being old or a prude for finding marketing material offensive. They don’t write to the company, they don’t comment on the blog – they simply add the product or company to their “I will never buy from…..” list.

    You can’t please everybody. Chances are you’re going to tick someone off. So look at who your core audience is. They’re the only opinion that matters. But do listen to their opinions.

    Thanks to every single one of your for your great comments and interesting discussions.

  29. Why in the world would someone take offense at this? Who cares if the guy is a geeky/creepy guy, doesn’t anyone know how to handle themselves anymore? This is the problem with America. Noone knows how to deal with people anymore because their main communication is faceless or absent: Cell phones, email, television, and video games. Everyone is paranoid and ADD. Of course, thats what happens when you dont practice engaging with people. You no longer know how to communicate with or read them.

    For those who take offense at this you are wasting your time. With Jena 6, violent movies and music, and moronic television shows there are plenty of other REAL issues to gripe about

  30. I guess we should say thank you for sharing.

  31. [...] Zafu.com: The Bra Scientist – Viral Video Analysis [...]

  32. [...] read a recent post on Grokdotcom about a campaign by Zafu.com. Now for those readers who are not familiar with Zafu, it’s a [...]

  33. [...] to Trust You August 08, 2007 No comment Holly Buchanan from FutureNow has a fun blog post called Would You Buy A Bra From This Man? I watched it and no, I would not. She’s seeking comments on the video advertisement. I responded [...]

  34. [...] showed the "Bra Scientist" video clip by Zafu that I blogged about last [...]

  35. The Advertising proposition is “A Perfect Bra in 3 minutes”.
    From the comments so far that seems to resonate with many respondents. Shouldn’t the Concept therefore be about Speed and Perfection?
    Zafu could have demonstrated the positive consequences of having the perfect bra fitted in record time or the negative results of having a Not-Perfect bra fitted in an excruciating length of time.
    The car park scenario is irrelevant to the Proposition and as a piece of advertising is just Dumb.

  36. Hmm… I’m a guy & I didn’t find this amusing in the slightest!

    In fact, it was just plain dumb IMO. I can’t imagine too many women thinking this is a good “call to action” to go check out zafu’s site, and no man is likely to be amused at it if he’s actually trying to buy a bra for his lady.

    Trying to be too clever & creative = LOST OPPORTUNITY 4 Sales.

    Fire the ad team that came up with this dog, I say!

  37. Buy the bra from Zafu.com? That really a little bit shy, but if it’s good for the woman’s health, this is suggestive choice.

  38. Also, I know a lot of women that wear the wrong size jeans as well!

  39. There’s not much else that I dread as much as having to get a new bra. So with that in mind, the tag line at the end caught my attention (3 minutes…sounds easy enough). The only thing is that the commercial grossed me out. I just wanted to move on. So I moved on and didn’t click. (Also, the name “zafu” sounds suspicious, but that’s just me)

  40. Zafu could have demonstrated the positive consequences of having the perfect bra fitted in record time or the negative results of having a Not-Perfect bra fitted in an excruciating length of time.

  41. This guy just comes across as nerdy. Most women I’ve talked to (including my girlfriend) say that they feel much more comfortable shopping in a store and being measured there. Of course by a woman!

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Holly Buchanan is a marketing to women consultant specializing in marketing to women online. You can read her blog at http://marketingtowomenonline.typepad.com She is the co-author, along with Michele Miller of The Soccer Mom Myth - Today's Female Consumer - Who She Really Is, Why She Really Buys.

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