When superheroes (and go-go dancers) are outlawed from marketing, only outlaws will market with superheroes (and go-go dancers)

Bangkok police arrested four actors dressed as Japanese superheroes for defying a decree banning commercial promotions in front of tanks. (No word yet on whether or not this applies to armored personnel carriers or Transformers.)

After handing soldiers roses and striking a brief pose, the four promoters of a Japanese action-hero show coming to Thailand next month were whisked away in the back of a police truck.

The military is apparently concerned “that the carnival atmosphere” following the country’s first coup in 15 years would detract from the seriousness of the moment. It’s Thailand, so seriousness is practically an endangered species. In a move guaranteed to hurt morale the government has also banned go-go dancers from flaunting themselves near tanks and troops.

Best … military … coup … ever

“In Berlin the situation is serious but not hopeless. In Vienna the situation is hopeless but not serious.” — Quote from World War I diplomatic telegraph.


The fish, the barrel, the smoking gun: Selling sex to teens

Everyone knows that teens want to have sex – at least everyone who was ever a teen – but despite this the world continues to look beyond biology to explain why this is so. In Thailand, the government has decided to blame marketing. In the US, a new study is blaming the old hobgoblin of “sexually suggestive” music. This will come as good news to the city fathers in Vienna who once tried to ban the Waltz on these grounds sometime in the 19th century.

Reuters reports that in Bangkok – where they pretty much invented the phrase “sex tourism” – the Culture Ministry has banned a line of condoms whose name translates as “Good Penetration.” The reason: the suggestive label could draw youngsters into having sex earlier.

The prophylactics are actually a, pardon the expression, brand extension of a popular singer named Tom Dundee. Dundee in Thai means … well if you’ve read this far chances are you know what it means. A representative of the Culture Ministry said, “Although the name is not vulgar or rude, it is ambiguous, boastful and provocative. It could entice excessive consumption and lure children and youths with little maturity to start having sexual activities before their appropriate age.”

Dundee, nee Puntiva Poomiprates, told Reuters, “You can’t stop human desire, no matter how old they are, so it is better to protect them.” I think we have to go with the private sector on this one.

Meanwhile back in the States, the Rand Corp. (the same people who brought us Vietnam) has determined that teens who listen to music with “raunchy, sexual lyrics” start having sex sooner than those who prefer other songs. “The study found that the more time adolescents spend listening to music with sexually degrading lyrics, the more likely they are to initiate intercourse and other sexual activities. This holds true for boys and girls as well as for whites and nonwhites, even after accounting for a wide range of other personal and social factors associated with adolescent sexual behavior,” said a Rand release (and doesn’t that sound dirty?).

Question … is it possible that teens who are more interested in sex are drawn to music with these themes? (FWIW, in an unprecedented move here at CD I actually did some reporting on this. Called Rand and tried to speak to Mr. Martino. Their PR person declined the interview. Go figure.)

Next quote: “Researchers found that only sexually degrading lyrics – many quite graphic and containing numerous obscenities – are related to changes in adolescents’ sexual behavior. These lyrics depict men as sexually insatiable, women as sexual objects, and sexual intercourse as inconsequential. Other songs about sex do not appear to influence youth the same way.”

Sadly neither the release nor the abstract available from Pediatrics, the journal which published the study, includes a list of songs deemed able to stimulate sexual urges in an adolescent – which has to be the easiest assignment in all of marketing. A more interesting list, one suspects, would be that of songs capable of preventing an adolescent from thinking about sex.

Final quote from the release: “Songs depicting men as ‘sex-driven studs,’ women as sex objects and with explicit references to sex acts are more likely to trigger early sexual behavior than those where sexual references are more veiled and relationships appear more committed.” Yeah, but how many songs by The Carpenters can any one person really listen to?

Or, as Etta James once put it, Roll with me Henry.