Anyone familiar with Snapchat knows that some people use it to send sexy pictures to each other. And while that behavior carries its own set of risks (mainly that the recipient of your R-rated Snap could very possibly take a screenshot and post it for the world to see like a complete and utter jerk) it’s generally a benign flirting technique between mutually interested parties.
That is, unless one of those parties is a clothing company and not a human being. In that case, it’s a slightly creepy marketing ploy – but one we should expect to see more often in the future.
Online clothing retailer Karmaloop uses Snapchat to engage fans, but it’s not just sending images of merchandise – it’s also messaging out photos of scantily clad models to attract the attention of its college-age target market. And according to AdWeek, it’s working, since the brand has added 2,000 followers since it began this T&A campaign.
“Our Snaps are not for the faint of heart – you got to be ready for a little bit of boobs and butt,” Megan Knisely, Karmaloop’s marketing director, told AdWeek. In addition to sending the provocative pictures, Karmaloop will also begin introducing Snapchat-exclusive coupon codes to test whether the app actually spurs sales.
As far as advertising content goes, this is thoroughly unsurprising — I’m actually a little surprised that American Apparel didn’t think to do this already, and the snaps are basically the 2013 version of the Abercrombie & Fitch catalogs of the early 2000s. But the delivery method via Snapchat makes Karmaloop’s approach interesting. It’s far from the only brand to jump on Snapchat as a “cool” way to promote: Taco Bell launched one of the first high-profile Snapchat campaigns back in May.
But most brands are sending snaps that directly relate to their services and merchandise. Karmloop does that, too, but these sexy pictures don’t show off the clothes for sale or convey information about a great deal – they simply send a message. But hey, there’s a reason why the Internet loves porn even more than it does cute cats.
Now, if you’re a Snapchat user who just wants to send pictures to your friends and you’ve already been freaked out by some of the spam porn problems the app deals with, you may be thinking this is a problematic trend. And it could be, if other brands take the idea and start sending unsolicited messages to random users. But Karmaloop just sends snaps to people who already follow it, so it’s not like you’ll be innocently taking a selfie to send to your cousin and all of a sudden you’ll get bombarded by a Karmaloop snap.
What is rather strange? Unlike traditional sex-based advertising, where billboards or online banner ads highlight lithe bodies, using Snapchat for this purpose feels off because the app is supposed to be about two-way conversations. Receiving individual snaps with this kind of content is a more intimate way of delivering the message, since you can always send a snap back. But what’s the fun of sending a sexy picture to an account you know is run by a team of social media managers that likely aren’t at all interested in seeing your junk?
But this was all inevitable – sex sells and kids love Snapchat. Still, we might be kissing another user-centric app goodbye as the marketing powers that be wrap their claws around it.