When You’re Not the Target Demographic

three boys on their bellies in water

I was surfing around the Internet the other day and happened upon an ad for a major jeans manufacturer. The new tagline was a bit disconcerting, but nothing compared to the photos and accompanying video on the ad campaign’s home page. Not porn by any stretch of the imagination, but definitely waaaay beyond suggestive.

It was immediately clear that I am not in the ad’s target demographic. Very, very clear.

Are you ready for the campaign tagline?

“Unbutton Your Beast”

No, I’m not kidding. And yes, there’s a set of photos at the home page, each depicting a pair of unbuttoned jeans with different creatures sticking out of the opening. And of course, you get to see the video on top that shows jeans with something bumping around inside, then the buttons opening and closing back up.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve gotten a boatload of e-mails over the past weeks months years warning of some massive problem or another that requires you to be outraged and begin boycotting immediately. Are you a little sick of those? I am. That’s why I hesitated to even write this post. I’m not asking anyone else to pass on the word, boycott the product, or start any kind of general panic. Really.

There have been quite a few ad campaigns over the years that were dumb or rude or turnoffs, but I’ve never bothered to do anything about them. This time I decided to let the company know (politely) that I really do find the ad offensive and that I’m a lot less likely to buy their product as a result. I know I’m not the target demographic, but still. They’re paying for advertising that is having a negative effect; perhaps they’re interested in knowing that.

I did actually get a polite reply apologizing for any offense and mentioning that I’m not in the target demographic of young males. Yeah, I got that point already.

Here’s the thing though: referring to what my boys call the “Men’s Area” as a beast and encouraging males to unbutton said beast is at best irresponsible. At worst….aren’t they encouraging very bad behavior? Possibly illegal?

While I’m not in the target demographic I’m raising 4 boys who eventually will be, and I find the thought of rewarding that kind of thinking with my dollars appalling. I’m not going to run screaming to mountaintops to demand a boycott, yet I am very turned off by the whole thing and if given a choice will avoid purchasing that brand for a good long time.

So as a parent, what do you think? There’s a lovely comments section right at the end of this post…won’t you share your thoughts?

Earnest Parenting: help for parents who aren’t the target demographic.

The editor-in-chief of Earnest Parenting, Amy is the mother of two sets of twin boys. Yes, they drive her crazy, but they also make her laugh occasionally. Amy enjoys writing, quilting, reading, and working on her burgeoning cyber empire.

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  • Mary October 7, 2008, 3:16 pm

    Not in the target demographic??????? Hmmmmm as another mother of young males…I AM THE ONE FORKING OUT THE MONEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh yes I am the target! I’m going to add (respectfully) my opinion too!

  • Do-Follow Blogs October 8, 2008, 6:06 am

    I’m 15, but seeing an ad like that would just freak me out…

  • Lance Nelson October 9, 2008, 4:09 am

    Its a close line between freedom and the sort of thing we want to see. This sort of thing I too would prefer not to my son see either. Our children are probably viewing much worse on the internet however – but that is sort of voluntary and this is not. There is a line and if its overstepped we should make our voice heard. Good post, Lance

  • Amy October 9, 2008, 11:05 am

    Mary, I think they’re going for college males and therefore you and I are only a small consideration. Any legal department worth their salt would point out exactly what I did.

    The campaign is meant to be edgy I’m sure. I usually just roll my eyes at stuff like that and don’t say anything. But it seems like the offenses get worse and worse. I’m starting to think that letting companies know that I don’t like what they’re doing-with all due respect-at least is doing something. I don’t like the wild forward-the-email-to-trash-the-company-and-start-a-boycott approach. I know that my opinion is a drop in the bucket. But at least I’ve tried to point out the problem to them.

    Do-Follow Blogs, yea. It’s not pretty.

    Lance, excellent point and I agree about the fine line. My point to the company was that while their message was a single one, the constant repetition of ideas like this eventually overwhelms. It’s not responsible to be telling young males that their private parts constitute a beast that should be unleashed. The logical extreme of that thought process is violence.

    I am very vigilant to ensure that my children do not see that kind of stuff online. I view it as part of my responsibility as a parent to be monitoring what they see. They’re free to make those choices when they move out, but until then we have parental controls on the Internet access and the boys know they’re only to go to certain web sites on their own.

    We will expand those privileges as they age and demonstrate the ability to shut out bad influences. Young hearts and minds do not need early exposure to such things though. I know men who’ve battled pornography for years because they got hooked as children. I will do everything in my power to protect my children and then arm them against it. That includes telling companies that their ad campaign is offensive.

    In terms of the whole freedom of speech thing: I am of the opinion that we have grossly perverted that concept over time. The Founders of this great country intended people to have the freedom to speak out against government, not just blather on about whatever we like with no thought for the consequences of those words.

    With the freedom to speak comes responsibility, and the ad campaign in this case is not responsible. In my opinion. 🙂

  • Grace October 12, 2008, 12:12 pm


    You are raising FOUR boys in a time when things can be just not safe. My hat is off to you for your courageous stance. Do it again! If enough folks protest we CAN make a difference! G.

  • Amy October 12, 2008, 7:54 pm


    [blushing] Thanks! It’s nice to know that others agree.

  • franco October 17, 2008, 6:11 pm

    when raising children i believe its important to raise your children in a good community and sent the an appropriate school, its a huge difference between inner city schools and other urban cities.

  • Amy October 18, 2008, 1:23 am

    Excellent point Franco. My boys are in an excellent school. 😉

    It’s very sad when people are trapped with bad schools and don’t have a way to improve the situation. I taught in a city school for a year and it can be a tough place.

  • Homeschool Your Teenager - Sherri October 18, 2008, 10:38 pm


    My son is 13 now and seeing a commercial like that would make him absolutely blush. He was not brought up to be disrespectful of himself or others and I probably wouldn’t have to say anything to him about not financially supporting something so irresponsible, even if they were the coolest jeans ever.

    Or as he would say, “Ma, that’s ridonkulous (beyond ridiculous), wack (unjustifiable), and that ad way jumped the shark (peaked and on its way down) on fashion.

  • Amy October 19, 2008, 5:10 pm

    Sherri, thanks for doing what you do to bring up such a wonderful son! And congratulations for having such a wonderful son!

    I’m also pleased to announce that I knew what all of his comment would be without translation. That’s not always true of teens, lol. Thanks for taking the time to comment and share a little of your boy with us.

  • Peter Roth October 20, 2008, 2:00 pm

    I have had the same situation with my little boy a few years ago. But it was on television. My boy blushed and didnt no if he liked it or not. I think your doing an amazing job with 4 children. I have my hands full with one. Keep up the good work Amy..

  • Amy October 22, 2008, 11:56 pm

    Peter it’s sad how much we have to shield our children from even just on commercials.

    Thanks for the compliment!

  • franco October 28, 2008, 5:21 pm

    wow i can really imagine you as a teacher! if you dont mind me asking, do you get hit on a lot at school or church? you are very beautiful, smart and opinionated (dream girl)!

  • allen October 30, 2008, 2:40 pm

    I would have had to send my kids to a really bad public school in san diego, luckily i was able to sneak past the system and use my cousins address in la jolla to get my two kids into a really good school, just FYI if you dont want to send your kids to a bad school look for a relatives address to use!

  • Amy October 30, 2008, 10:37 pm

    Allen I’m sorry you had to go to so much trouble! In Michigan we have something called Schools of Choice, so I can apply to send my kids to a different district. If they have room, then the kids can attend there. I’m responsible for transportation and the rest is pretty smooth.

  • franco November 3, 2008, 2:47 pm

    schools in michigan and california are much different than eachother!