A liberal academic classmate has been giving me crap again on the class email list for letting Blogads run that “Mutually Beneficial Arrangements” ad in NYM’s right-hand column.
When the notice to review that proposed new ad came in a few months ago, I had conflicting attitudes. On libertarian grounds, I thought I ought to let it run. It did seem to constitute an amusing commentary on society’s morals today after all as well. But I really am also pretty stuffy and I was not entirely comfortable with resembling the Village Voice and lending aid and comfort to the Oldest Profession.
I actually shilly-shallied about making up my mind on that policy issue and then, lo and behold! I found that Blogads actually had it up and running without my explicitly granting permission. I looked into the whole thing, and I was amused to find that NYM readers were clicking through that ad in much, much larger numbers than usual. So I concluded that my readers were also finding amusement and food for thought in that ad.
Readership interest seemed to me to argue decisively for the libertarian side, and I refrained from eliminating the ad.
HuffPo actually did a long feature on what has become a booming business in the Age of Obama last year.
Many 20-somethings are beginning their adult lives shouldering substantial amounts of student loan debt. According to Mark Kantrowitz, who publishes the financial aid websites Fastweb.com and Finaid.org, while the average 2011 graduate finished school with about $27,200 in debt, many are straining to pay off significantly greater loans.
Enter the sugar daddy, sugar baby phenomenon. This particular dynamic preceded the economic meltdown, of course. Rich guys well past their prime have been plunking down money for thousands of years in search of a tryst or something more with women half their age—and women, willingly or not, have made themselves available. With the whole process going digital, women passing through a system of higher education that fosters indebtedness are using the anonymity of the web to sell their wares and pay down their college loans.
“Over the past few years, the number of college students using our site has exploded,” says Brandon Wade, the 41-year-old founder of Seeking Arrangement. Of the site’s approximately 800,000 members, Wade estimates that 35 percent are students. “College students are one of the biggest segments of our sugar babies and the numbers are growing all the time.” ...
Wade, who started Seeking Arrangement back in 2006, can easily identify with the Jacks of the world. He created the site for fellow high-net-worth individuals who “possess high standards but don’t have a lot of time to date the traditional way.”
Wade, whose legal name is Brandon Wey, says he changed his name to better appeal to his clientele. “They’re more familiar with Hugh Hefner than with some Asian guy from Singapore,” he explains. Wade got the idea for Seeking Arrangement more than 20 years ago, while in college at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Watching from the sidelines as his beautiful dorm mates pursued significantly older, moneyed men, Wade fantasized about someday becoming one such man. After business school at MIT and stints at General Electric and Microsoft, Wade dabbled in various start-ups before finally creating his own.
Awkward and shy, he started Seeking Arrangement in part because of his own inability to attract younger women. “To get the attention of the girl I really wanted to meet, I was kind of at the mercy of the statistics of traditional dating sites. I’d write hundreds of emails and only get one or two replies,” says Wade, who is now divorced. He says married men account for at least 40 percent of the site’s sugar daddies. Sugar babies outnumber sugar daddies by a ratio of nearly 10 to 1. Wade declined to disclose how much money he makes from the site. With more than 115,000 sugar daddies averaging $50 a month in membership fees, and some paying more to belong to the exclusive Diamond Club, it’s safe to assume Wade’s investment has more than paid off—and that’s not even including advertising revenue.
Debt-strapped college graduates weren’t included in his original business plan. But once the recession hit and more and more students were among the growing list of new site users, Wade began to target them. The company, which is headquartered in Las Vegas, now places strategic pop-up ads that appear whenever someone types “tuition help” or “financial aid” into a search engine. And over the past five years, Wade says he’s seen a 350 percent increase in college sugar baby membership—from 38,303 college sugar babies in 2007 to 179,906 college sugar babies by July of this year. The site identifies clients who might be students by the presence of a .edu email address, which the site verifies before it will allow a profile to become active. Although, it should be noted that individuals without .edu email addresses can identify as students as well.
At The Huffington Post’s request, Seeking Arrangement listed the top 20 universities attended by sugar babies on the site. They compiled the list according to the number of sugar babies who registered using their .edu email addresses or listed schools’ names on their profiles. New York University tops the list with 498 sugar babies, while UCLA comes in at No. 8 with 253, and Harvard University ranks at No. 9 with 231. The University of California at Berkeley ranks at No. 13 with 193, the University of Southern California ranks at No. 15 with 183, and Tulane University ranks at No. 20 with 163 college sugar babies. ...
“I’m honestly surprised there aren’t more college students doing this,” says Jennifer, not blinking. She’s a 23-year-old recent graduate of Sarah Lawrence College.
Fed up with young, unemployed men her own age, Jennifer recently began trawling for a sugar daddy to pay down about $20,000 in student loan debt. She also wouldn’t mind a clothing allowance or rent money for her studio apartment in New York’s East Village.
A week ago, she boarded a plane to Florida to spend the weekend with a 30-something banker she met on SugarDaddie.com. He told her his house was undergoing a renovation and instead drove her to a nearby hotel, where they spent the night together. ...
“I realize I’m not going to have it forever,” Jennifer says, brushing her blond, wavy hair off to one side. “While I’ve still got it, I’m going to milk it for all it’s worth. I mean, maybe I’ll get swept off my feet. Really, anything could happen.”
It’s clear that the kind of materialist utilitarianism preached by today’s universities combines very effectively with whopping piles of tuition debt and hard economic times to popularize the philosophy expressed by blues singer Ruth Brown in this old number:
I missed it at the time, but about a month ago (September 14), the Calgary, Alberta edition of Craigslist ran an ad (since removed) under Transportation Jobs, titled ASTRONAUT NEEDED (NORTHERN ALBERTA).
I’ve found a picture of the actual ad. Click on it again to enlarge.
The advertisement’s author said that he required someone “no taller than 5 feet 10 inches,” “relatively slim,” and “mentally sound” for an “experimental flight to Titan.”
This experimental flight represented “the result of my professional experience and imagination while serving the U.S. military in advanced aeronautics as a scientist working on this project for near 40 years.”
The spacecraft, he promised, featured “a revolutionary propulsion system and its fuselage is fabricated with the most advanced material.”
The job pays $25,000, and the successful applicant will get to see the solar system. There is a catch, though, and a big one. The proposed flight to Saturn’s moon is a one-way trip.
The advertisement’s author wrote: “I am certain you will make it safely to Titan but there will not be enough fuel to get home. This is for someone unique that has always wanted to see the universe first-hand and has perhaps a terminal view on life here at home. Here’s your shot at romantic history.”
No news yet on whether anyone volunteered, or on whether the alleged project actually exists in a remotely practicable form.
Michelle Malkin updates the Absolut advertising controversy, reporting that, having angered many Americans with an ill-conceived ad campaign picturing the entire American Southwest, including California, Texas, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, Arizona (and beyond the Southwest: Oregon, along with most of Wyoming, and much of Idaho) incorporated into Mexico, in the face of mounting criticism, Absolut withdrew the offending ad and apologized, and then the Swedish company, now part of France’s Pernod Ricard, announced its launch of new Gay-oriented advertising.
Bar owner Matthew Rogers of Pt. Richmond, Calif., sent this note to the company: “I run a bar in Pt. Richmond. … After seeing your ad campaign where you show a western map of the United States in which California is part of Mexico again, I’ve decided to do the following: 1) Never carry Absolut. Ever; 2) Lower the price of Ketel One vodka to $2 a shot indefinitely to build loyalty; 3) Print a copy of your ad and put it above the Ketel One drink special; 4) Tell all my friends and family what Absolut thinks of the United States of America and our right to enforce border laws. I am on the frontline of illegal immigration and its effects. Where are you? Oh, yes, Sweden. Good riddance.”
Absolut’s initial response to complaints was to hang up on consumers who phoned and to delete their e-mail without bothering to read it. But the controversy spread like a California wildfire stoked by Internet Santa Ana winds. In the first of two statements, Absolut Vice President of Corporate Communications Paula Eriksson attempted to douse the flames by touting the company’s embrace-diversity ethos. “As a global company,” she pedantically intoned, “we recognize that people in different parts of the world may lend different perspectives or interpret our ads in a different way than was intended in that market. Obviously, this ad was run in Mexico, and not the U.S. — that ad might have been very different.”
That arrogant, p.c. sanctimony had the effect of pouring gas on the flames. So over the weekend, Eriksson issued a new statement announcing withdrawal of the ad. It was comically titled “We apologize” — and disingenuously argued that “In no way was the ad meant to offend or disparage, or advocate an altering of borders, lend support to any anti-American sentiment, or to reflect immigration issues. …This is a genuine and sincere apology.” ...
Fresh off its Aztlan debacle, the company announced its newest campaign this week featuring an ad titled “Ruler,” described as “a humorous look at gay men and their fascination with perfect, eight-inch ‘member’ measurements.”
The brand’s two new, daring print ad executions include: “Ruler,” a humorous look at gay men and their fascination with perfect, eight-inch “member” measurements, while “Stadium” engages on the issue of gay marriage when one half of a gay couple “pops” the question during a sports outing. Created by SPI Marketing/Moon City in New York, these new lifestyle-driven ads build on a heritage of advertisements that prominently featured gay artists since 1984.
“As a long-time supporter of the gay and lesbian community, we acknowledge that you can’t simply speak to gay men and lesbians as consumers, but instead need to make real connections to their lives which we believe we are achieving with our new creative executions,” said Jeffrey Moran, ABSOLUT® spokesperson. “As a company, we respect gay men and lesbians not simply in advertising messages, but behind the scenes as well. We’re not gay-washing here.”
The preferred brand of vodka for gay and lesbian consumers, ABSOLUT® was one of the first major brands to place an ad in a gay magazine 27 years ago and is a long-time supporter of events and causes important to the gay and lesbian community.
Paula Eriksson, VP Corporate Communications, V&S Absolut Spirits explains why Americans shouldn’t get bent out of shape over Absolut’s playful rearrangement in its Mexican advertising of the United States’ border with Mexico.
The In An Absolut World advertising campaign invites consumers to visualize a world that appeals to them—one they feel may be more idealized or one that may be a bit “fantastic.” As such, the campaign will elicit varying opinions and points of view. We have a variety of executions running in countries worldwide, and each is germane to that country and that population.
This particular ad, which ran in Mexico, was based upon historical perspectives and was created with a Mexican sensibility. In no way was this meant to offend or disparage, nor does it advocate an altering of borders, nor does it lend support to any anti-American sentiment, nor does it reflect immigration issues. Instead, it hearkens to a time which the population of Mexico may feel was more ideal.
As a global company, we recognize that people in different parts of the world may lend different perspectives or interpret our ads in a different way than was intended in that market. Obviously, this ad was run in Mexico, and not the US —that ad might have been very different.
Until I see the Absolut ad featuring the liberal who panders to special interest groups treated as below, I’m afraid I’m going to be purchasing Grey Goose.
Absolut’s map even takes a particularly partisan Mexican position on the boundary of the Louisiana Purchase.
Did Absolut’s advertising agency think that news of this particular campaign would not reach Americans, particularly Americans residing in Texas, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and the non-Bay-area, non-Hollywood, non-Marin-to-Humboldt portions of California?