Naked came the advertiser: We reveal 10 scanty and scandalous ad campaigns

naked marketing by Nike
naked marketing by Nike

Sex sells. It's the oldest truism of marketing -- Wikipedia's entry on sex in advertising mentions woodcuts -- but is it true? The answer is an unequivocal ... sometimes. It's hard to know whether a risqué image will have customers recoiling or grinning. I've covered naked marketing for years, and I've done my share of both. Of all the publicity skin I've seen, 10 campaigns stand out. The best are so likable and clever that they can make even a reserved feminist (like myself) laugh. But the worst are demeaning enough to make even the goofiest frat boy cringe.

If you sense that you're seeing more nudity in advertising than you used to, you're right. But these days, we're hitting replay not just on our TiVos but on YouTube; some of these campaigns only exist online. But their merits haven't changed. For these ads to work, they must connect nudity with a brand. Does a consumer feel naked without the product or service? (Or with it?) More importantly: does the ad sell its product or cause to consumers? It's not always easy to know if customers like your advertising; sales figures, however, are not in the eye of the beholder.

To reveal the top 10 naked ad campaigns -- the good, the bad, and the ugly -- peek through here.