WIMN’s Voices: A Group Blog on Women, Media, AND…

Using Sex to Sell Solar Power

mspencers Icon Posted by Miranda Spencer

October 23rd, 2010

What do you get when you combine women+media+the environment? For a San Francisco entrepreneur calling himself John B., you get a 2011 calendar promoting solar power through scantily-clad women!! His “Renewable Girls” calendar features 12 voluptuous women with vapid expressions posing Playboy-style with panels– supposedly as a way to encourage interest in clean energy. As he says on his website:

“John has a hard time concealing his love for panels. He’s worked at two solar companies and his love keeps growing and growing. His home is powered by solar panels, as is his cell phone….

“Disgusted by his newly clean conscience, John boldly inaugurated Renewable Girls in February 2010 with a raucous 12 hour calendar shoot in downtown LA. Since then he’s been peddling the renewable
girls calendar to anyone that will listen.”

The site also includes pix and bios of “the girls” posed under such captions as “When her husband is away on business, Cynthia waits patiently by her solar powered phone.” And incongruously, it offers a calculator widget that lets you see how much money you’ll save using solar panels on your home, plus free price quotes for installation. It warns:

“Renewable Girls aren’t interested in the save the world crunchy types…They tend to go for the bling. Be it on their finger or on their roof. So if you’re going to please her with panels, you have to make sure the price is right.”

All I can say about this campaign is, Way to alienate your market!

Moreover, it’s yet another example of pitting one progressive issue against another, whereby if you “really” care about the environment (or animal rights — see PETA) you’ll tolerate a bunch of sexism.

However, “B.” seems to have anticipated the charge that using soft porn to raise environmental consciousness (and sell heating systems) is uncool. He told the Huffingon Post,

“Some tree huggers fear that degrading solar by exploiting woman will alienate potential adopters. Advertising industry experts, on the other hand, have found beautiful women to be remarkably successful in selling everything from gas guzzlers to designer hand bags. Since when has solar been too clean to take a bubble bath with the most basic of desires?”

HuffPo wants your comments on this latest green marketing effort. But, breast-obsessed as ever, it first asks you to rate the calendar models, from “lukewarm” to “solar flare.” Better yet, why not email John B. at sales@renewablegirls.com, and politely suggest where he can stick his solar panels?

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