Auburn Bikini Billboard Furor Adds PR Value, Analysts Say

From the Sacramento Bee - June 11, 2011

Doug Elmets, a local public relations consultant who advises on advertising for the Thunder Valley Casino Resort, said the creators clearly wanted to "catch the eye."

He called it very effective advertising, only sweetened by the media coverage.

Both Perry and Elmets recalled times when they chose provocative ads in hopes of getting publicity.

In Elmets' case, he used a picture of a church littered with tires to provoke a conversation about American Indian sacred sites.
"Advertising is all about capturing the imagination and causing someone to react, for better or worse," Elmets said.

The fact that Duminie looks a little like Paris Hilton doesn't hurt in terms of catching the eye, said Elmets. Perry said she couldn't find anything over-the-top about the ad.

 

 

While the offending bikini billboard may be gone, the firm behind it is likely laughing all the way to the bank, local advertising experts say.

On Thursday, a billboard off Highway 49 in Auburn was found covered by black tarp, with the words "No porn in our town" written on it in spray paint.

By that evening, the 12-by-24-foot billboard had been replaced with an adopt-a-pet spot.

The original billboard was an ad for California Sun, a chain of tanning salons based in Granite Bay. It featured a woman in a white bikini and cowboy boots, lying on a rock next to Folsom Lake.

California Sun owners Michael and Ashleigh Blore are traveling in Europe and could not be reached for comment Friday. But several local advertising experts said that while the firm may not have set out to create a controversy, the flap and resulting media coverage are worth far more than the cost of running the outdoor print ad.

"There is nothing like a good controversy to increase the value of an advertising campaign," said Kassy Perry, owner of Sacramento's Perry Communications.

Doug Elmets, a local public relations consultant who advises on advertising for the Thunder Valley Casino Resort, said the creators clearly wanted to "catch the eye."

He called it very effective advertising, only sweetened by the media coverage.

Both Perry and Elmets recalled times when they chose provocative ads in hopes of getting publicity.

In Perry's case, it was the use of a black coffin in a hepatitis C information billboard.

In Elmets' case, he used a picture of a church littered with tires to provoke a conversation about American Indian sacred sites.

"Advertising is all about capturing the imagination and causing someone to react, for better or worse," Elmets said.

Andrew Hampp, who writes about outdoor media for Advertising Age, said an outdoor ad is an entirely different animal than a targeted print or television ad where one can carefully chose the audience.

As for the ad itself, a photo of Reno dancer and model Nicole Duminie, the ad experts surveyed by The Bee called it eye-catching, but didn't find it offensive.

"It appears as tasteful as it can be with a woman in a bikini," said Paul McClure, director of advertising at Runyon Saltzman & Einhorn.

They are, after all, selling tanning, he said.

"I don't think they went to any length to be provocative," McClure said.

The fact that Duminie looks a little like Paris Hilton doesn't hurt in terms of catching the eye, said Elmets. Perry said she couldn't find anything over-the-top about the ad.

"Frankly, as a mom of teenage girls, I don't find the ad offensive at all," she said. "It's a beautiful, athletic woman with a beautiful tan."

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