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Plus-size 'reviews' reminding us that advertising is immune to shame

Published: 16:48, 05 April 2017
Ellana Bryan - Plus-size model and video game critic

It is totally ok to call your paid advertisement a review if you have it read by a plus-size model. Mobile gaming and its marketing business practices reaching peak absurdity while YouTube views keep stacking up.

The world of advertising is no stranger to cheap shots and when advertisers are in doubt there is always the obvious solution - sex sells. Bringing video games to the attention of the potentially paying customers hasn't been spared such practises over the years.

MachineZone Mobile Strike - Advert storyboard Mobile Strike - Advert storyboard

Developer Machine Zone, responsible for a number of hugely successful mobile games recently paid millions of moneyz to have in one of their ads, and then have that ad aired during last year's Super Bowl. During the same year they released another ad for the same game, Mobile Strike, that featured some bikini clad curvy models texting each other while tanks, helicopters, jets, explosions and other video game things are happening around them. Because half naked woman were featured in the ad, someone complained about the video's representation of women as being problematic, and the ad promptly got banned.

To my utter shock, it appears that some of the plus-size models in the advertisement are actually game critics and reviewers.

These multi-talented powerhouses of criticism cover everything from lootbox type items and movies, over mobile TCGs to cash-grab casual mobile games.

The examples found here all spawned on a single YouTube channel called AllGoodThingsNetwork, but more examples are likely to lurk in the more obscure corners of YouTube. The channel has well over 100,000 subscribers at the time of writing, most of which are hungry for some serious art criticism and detailed analysis of gaming culture as a whole.

In all fairness, the video descriptions all openly state that these are sponsored videos, and the models appearing on the site are using it to further their careers in some way or another. What pokes my eyes out is the question why call them reviews in the first place?

The obvious answer is to lend some credibility to the whole endeavour, but it boggles my mind why anyone would even try to pull such an obviously futile manoeuvre, aside from the possibility of keyword manipulation attempts? Adding tits to the mix made many a twitch streamer's career a reality, but that leads to the question of why specifically use plus-sized models for these purposes? Are chubbier models a better fit gamer expectations in relation to certain body-type prejudices towards gamers themselves? You know, the old stereotype of the obese basement dweller and his collection of waifu pillows and some sort of imaginary female parallel to that.

AllGoodThings I'm sorry ladies, AltChar isn't hiring at the moment and there is nothing you can do to change our minds. I'm sorry ladies, AltChar isn't hiring at the moment and there is nothing you can do to change our minds.

It is far more likely that no one really put as much thought into this as Telxvi has, but it sets an uncomfortable precedent. Labelling an advertisement as a review, no matter how many disclaimers you slap onto it, is a deliberate attempt at consumer misdirection, and such marketing stunts tend to snowball when left unattended. Distract the audience with some sexually charged visuals, pretend you are reviewing a product, hand back and await eventual results or possible backlash - depending on how well you execute this marketing slight of hand.

The perhaps most important lesson to be learned from all this is - what opinion does a company that chooses to advertise in this manner have of its target audience?




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