Across Eastern Europe, it’s hardly shocking to see ads with female nude torsos promoting anything from beer to motor oil.
Still, when I was driving through Slovakia recently this billboard struck me.
It didn’t show breasts, so I knew it wouldn’t be an ad for beer. (Every marketer knows beer and breasts go together almost as well as — say — stay-at-home moms and toilet bowl cleaning detergent).
If not an ad for beer, what could it possibly be selling?
I slowed down enough to be able to read it, which is probably what marketers hope one would do, safe-driving concerns aside.
And who knew?
It turns out this was an ad for a hardware store specializing in landscaping tools.
The slogan translates to: “Have you been neglecting your front yard lately?” Incidentally, the woman displayed on the billboard has a perfectly groomed pubic hair area. Get it? Get it?
Local drivers generally didn’t seem to find anything surprising about having a bare naked lady advertise landscaping products.
What surprised me, however, was the cultural and economic underpinnings of a global trend: we have apparently reached an era when even owners of mom-and-pop hardware stores — much like porn producers — prefer their ladies fully shaved. (Trust me, you would be surprised, too, if you ever visited a hardware store in rural Slovakia and met the often hirsute staff.)
Upon further research, it turns out that this billboard did manage to enrage many in Slovakia.
Not enough to force the hardware store to remove the billboards, mind you, but enough to create a discussion in Slovakia along gender lines: Why all the pressure for women to “landscape their front yards,” yet little pressure for “manscaping?" (And, once again, if you have ever been to a hardware store in rural Slovakia, you can only imagine how unlikely “manscaping“ would be.)
But, perhaps, it is only a matter of time when full-body hair removal becomes the norm for Slovak men, as it is becoming for Americans.
That's good news for all the hardware stores selling landscaping tools out there, I suppose, as it will require maintenance of the front yard, as well as the back yard.
I can’t wait to see what the next set of billboards will look like.