If you ask me, there's nowhere near enough sex or wink-wink implied sex in brand videos nowadays. Don't agree? Check out the most recent batch of clips promoting diapers, inspection cameras or medical alert systems for seniors. Not a one features the daintily oiled torso of a modern-day he-Zeus, or a nubile, wild-eyed tart coming within a strand of double-stick tape of laying waste to our treasured obscenity statutes. That's not just an opportunity missed; that's brand suicide. Today, if a brand isn't sexy, it might as well peddle its wares at The Yarn Barn. Along those lines, good luck appealing to leonine construction hunkaroos or leggy catwomen, Fancy Feast.
Courageously, two of our foremost global ambassadors of sexy sexiness have stepped forward to fill the void. In this corner, footballer David Beckham, seeking to alert his core audience - anyone for whom the regular application of moisturizer is less a skin-preservation tactic than a way of life - to the debut of his H&M collection of stretchy underthings. In that corner, Jennifer Love Hewitt, hyping the premiere of the second season of Lifetime's "The Client List," which charts the decay of societal institutions through the lenses of crooks and cops in crime-ridden Baltimore.
Given their involvement, sexiness is as much a given here as hay is at a barn-themed prom. Ah, but who is sexier? Whose brand/collection/show/whatever comes off as sexier-by-proxy? What this situation calls for - nay, demands! - is a Sexy-Off, Valentine's Day style.
Plotting: In the H&M clip, Beckham simultaneously loses his bathrobe and gets locked out of his house - zut alors! - and, as you or I might in the same situation, races through neighboring backyards after the SUV that had the temerity to drive off with his modesty-preserving garment. During his sprint-about, he encounters kids, supermodels, horndog tourists and ethnically stereotyped gardeners. By comparison, the Lifetime video depicts J-Lo-Hew covering the describe-thyself anthem "I'm a Woman" while gyrating as if paid by the pelvic thrust. It doesn't tell a story, unless you read the clip as an aging starlet's declaration that under no circumstances will she go gentle into that good night. Paging Camille Paglia! Advantage: Beckham
Conditioning: Beckham's super-defined bod suggests that he has never made the acquaintance of a bacon cheeseburger; I pity such individuals more than I do the homeless and the lovelorn combined. Hewitt's figure - lean everywhere, except there - is either a miracle of surgery or demented nutrition, because adult female human beings simply aren't proportioned that way. If the clipmakers set out to simultaneously intimidate and impress, mission accomplished. Advantage: Tie
Effort expended: Beckham barely breaks a sweat, because why would he? His brand is coolness personified, plus hair product. Hewitt doesn't perform so much as outright labor, as witnessed by the sexy-exertion-pant that escapes her lips during the clip's final moments. Can somebody check the stability of the floor upon which she stomps? Can a licensed physician check whether her metabolism is up to the task? Advantage: Hewitt
Use of water as metaphor, or something: If Beckham didn't take a quick lap in a pool, the H&M clip suggests, his hoTTTness would spark a forest inferno that would extinct no fewer than two species of spotted owl. Likewise, when Hewitt receives a "Flashdance"-style bath from above, she insulates herself against allegations that her hot pants torched a factory for the insurance money. There's nothing more subtle than a hosing down, in brand videos as in crowd control. Advantage: Hewitt
Music: H&M ponies up for the latest candy-punk ditty by Foster the People. Lifetime thrusts a microphone in front of Hewitt's face and asks her to revisit her actress/singer/cover girl/Aniston alternative hyphenate past. The lesson, as always, is that there's usually a reason why individuals are asked to specialize in a single vocation. Advantage: Beckham
Self-awareness: Beckham's disappointed face looks just like his aggrieved face, his bored face, his amused face and his anticipating-a-great-big-awesome-surprise-that-might-involve-ice-cream face. God bless him, he doesn't pretend that he's in it for anything but the money. Hewitt? Her way-the-hell-over-the-top performance suggests that she's cool with the reality that she won't be receiving the same scripts as Amy Adams. Advantage: Hewitt
Effectiveness in promoting whatever it is that the clip is promoting: After watching both clips, I do not find myself possessed to rethink the depth and/or elasticity of my underwear, nor to watch a show whose central premise - mom becomes prostitute, for all the right reasons - demands a level of titillation that we ain't gonna get on basic cable. Advantage: None
Overall Sexiest Sexiness: On the surface, this is a tough one. It's like being asked to choose between a dew-kissed rainbow and a snow day - the obvious answer is "both!!! duh!!!" But I've apparently scored it 3-2 Hewitt. So there you go.