heard? Apparently, sex sells - and no company takes that adage to pervy, pornographic heights like American Apparel. Though the company's ads have long featured sad-looking lady friends of CEO Dov
Charney in various states of undress, AA pushed its final frontier in late December by hiring an actual porn star - 20-year-old Sasha Grey, Adult Video News' Female Performer of the Year - to
flash her full-frontal bits. The NSFW Flash ads were unique to three sexually charged Web sites: The Reverse Cowgirl (which features Grey wearing nothing but a pair of thigh-high yellow socks), Last
Night's Party and Debauchette. But according to Ryan Holiday, who handles online display advertising for American Apparel, the ads were less about AA's sexual reputation and more about ...
art. "We chose these three sites because the writers are known for not being afraid to do whatever they want or self-censor," Holiday says. "The sad thing about most Web advertising is
that companies don't even know what sites their ads appear on, let alone actually read them. That's a stupid way to reach people. MySpace isn't going to let anyone do an ad like this
because they don't care about art or being creative.
"I think some people are getting distracted by the nudity," Holiday continues. "The plan was to design ads around the sites we're fans of. For these three sites, which happen to be about sex, it was the natural result." Holiday points out that the campaign also featured new ads on several other hipster blogs, none of which involved nudity.
Though not an explicit collaboration, each site owner had the opportunity to approve the images before the ad ran, and the relationship between the racy sites and aa appears to be a win-win. According to Susannah Breslin, author of Reverse Cowgirl, buzz from the Sasha Grey ad led to a significant spike in unique visitors (more than 10,000 per week higher than average) during the time the ad ran. "We're promising these publishers not to run the ads anywhere else," Holiday says. "They're being designed only for their site and that's where they will stay."