BRAND: FCUK; AGENCY: GGT; CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Trevor Beattie; PHOTOGRAPHER: Neil Davenport; WRITER: Trevor Beattie
Is it possible to be elegantly profane? Well, in the arts, yes – think Matthew Barney, Cindy Sherman, Robert Mapplethorpe. But in advertising?
On phone booths across town, clothier French Connection UK (a.k.a. FCUK) has rolled out a campaign centered around the words SUBLIMINAL ADVERTISING EXPERIMENT, the FCUK logotype, and a pair of erect nipples. Okay, so the nipples are behind a demure pink sweater, but you really have no choice but to focus on them; the model in question is tightly cropped – a faceless sex object, literally. SUBLIMINAL, of course, trades off the prevailing Madison Avenue self-referential ethos, but beyond that it resonates with – and somehow elevates – the thin joke of the clothier’s initials. (Also note the stacked sex, if you read down, crossword-puzzle-style.) Naughty wordplay is sort of a stupid hook, but it’s preferable to studied wordplay (think of the Times’ idiotic anagrammatic “Expect the World” campaign: GOURMET … MORE GUT). And when Lennox Lewis pulls on a FCUK logo cap and the usually pious New York Post – which huffed about FCUK’s window displays last year because of that word – prints a photo of the boxer wearing said cap with nary a comment, you’ve got to think, Hey, maybe this subliminal stuff is working.