Strong suit: Why Air New Zealand's naked marketing works

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Naked Marketing New Zealand Air plane tailA marketing campaign featuring bodypainted employees -- wearing nothing underneath their makeup but their birthday suits -- might seem beyond the pale. A spot with salacious shots and tittering customers could go over the line. But with its CEO joining in the fun, making his own bare(ish) skin integral to the corporate message by stripping down and painting up, Air New Zealand's latest campaign is a prime example of naked marketing that works.

"Consumers today demand radical transparency from companies, and rightly so," Air New Zealand chief Rob Fyfe said. "Along with Air New Zealand employees, I took off all my clothes to demonstrate in a remarkable way that Air New Zealand staff have nothing to hide and in fact have good reason to feel pride. I'd love other CEOs to follow suit if it would help consumers to feel more confident in organizations."

The advertisement, below, is both catchy and sweet. It uses time-honored methods of showing (and not showing) skin in TV ads with careful placement of a suitcase in front of a male baggage handler's private parts; a stack of coffee cups in front of a female flight attendant's breast, and a few surprised (and admiring) glances from passengers. And it's got tongue-in-cheek humor: "I do love a man in uniform," says a matronly customer in the boarding area.

Response from both consumers and marketing analysts has been positive, and employees in the "making-of" video seem thrilled to have had the opportunity to bare a little more of their souls on camera. In the end, it's a risky stunt that works: no one's demeaned or shocked, the ad is watchable for the whole family, and most importantly, the marketing campaign is connected to the nakedness. Whether it will improve Air New Zealand's ridership is yet to be seen.

To see all 10 of Sarah Gilbert's top 10 best and worst naked advertising campaigns, click here.

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