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Maytag bets on sexy ad for Pan Am marketing

Most of the marketing for the Pan Am Games has so far been preoccupied with the drama of sport, the rigour of athletic training, and the opportunity for Canada to welcome the world. But now, one sponsor is hoping to make the games sexy.

Maytag Canada's new commercial features closeups of sweaty pectorals, shoulders and backs as athletes such as baseball player Vanessa Riopel and triathlete Kyle Jones strip down to their birthday suits in slow motion. Meanwhile, the hunky new Maytag Man helps with those sweaty training clothes.

The ad is meant to get noticed in what is soon to become a crowded field of commercials and sponsors advertising their brands. Maytag is hoping that by creating an ad that is cheeky and playful, it can differentiate itself from the pack.

"Often what happens in these types of sponsorships is a generic 'effort' message that brands align themselves to," Matt Litzinger, president and chief creative officer of the ad agency behind the campaign, Red Lion Canada, said in an e-mail. Instead, the team saw an opportunity for a more relevant message by tackling the dirtiest clothes out there – athletic gear.

The saucy ad is also part of a larger strategy to spend Maytag's media dollars differently around the Games.

Maytag is putting more investment into the digital and social media space than in the past, to attempt to reach customers more effectively. Better analytical tracking to show how a campaign is performing in real time, plus more accurate ways to target content to people at optimal times, have lessened "the need to 'broadcast' messages," Mr. Litzinger said.

"Obviously, mass communication channels are still used and in fact relied upon, but they are no longer the primary driver of a media spend," he said.

This is particularly important during sponsorship of a large event, where marketers jockey to be remembered by customers who don't always recognize which brands have poured money into being associated with that event.

The question is, will a striptease be enough to make people sit up and actually watch an ad?

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