Using Boob Jokes to Sell – Dining Room Furniture?

I kid you not.

La Difference is a contemporary furniture store in Richmond, VA.   Their advertising has always been stylish and fun.   But I really have to scratch my head about their latest campaign selling dining room furniture promoting it as "the perfect set."

If La Diff is targeting men, they may get the fellas' attention with this ad, but I suspect the only "perfect set" the guys will be desiring won't include matching chairs.   That's the problem with using sex to sell to men.  It may get their attention, but they often don't remember the product.

If La Diff is targeting women, well, my only conclusion is they aren't targeting women.   Which is too bad since women buy 80 percent of all furniture sold, according to the American Furniture Manufacturers Association (AFMA).

If La Diff is trying to create "buzz", (and I suspect this is probably closest to the truth) well, they've got me talking about the ad.  But  I'm talking about it because I won't be shopping at La Dif anymore, which is sad because I've always loved that store.  

Why won't I be shopping there anymore?   It's not so much that I'm offended by the ad, I'm offended by the laziness and lack of awareness by La Dif and their marketing department.  How much money are they paying people to come up with stupid boob jokes?   And do they think so little of their female customers that they'd run a stupid boob joke ad?

How to use sex to sell to women

There are so many creative possibilities for selling dining room tables, especially to women.   These tables are where families come together to share stories, victories and defeats.  These tables are where romances are struck up and rekindled.  

If La Diff wanted to use sex to sell dining room tables, why not have a spot where a couple is celebrating a special event (maybe anniversary) with a romantic dinner.   The couple leans in for a passionate kiss.  Then  the camera pans away as you hear plates smashing to the floor as the couple rolls on to the top of the table.  (The key being that the camera is focused elsewhere, perhaps doing a close up of the champaign bottle on the table right before it gets knocked off.)   An announcer could come in with a tag line about how "sturdy" the furniture is.

Why would this work?   Women respond to sex when it's in the context of a man showing emotional intimacy, commitment or devotion.  It's about a committed couple being romantic rather than a woman making innuendos about a body part.  

Be careful of the slippery slope of using sex when advertising products where women are the majority of the purchasers.  Andrea Learned has some questions about using sex to sell….pistachios

Yup….pistachios.  I kid you not.

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37 Responses to Using Boob Jokes to Sell – Dining Room Furniture?

  1. Mary Schmidt says:

    Indeed. I’m not really offended by breasts (I’ve got two of my own – that I can look at any time I want to ;-)) It’s the laziness – as you note – that totally turns me off.

  2. Holly, I think there may be a subset of women, not matter how small, who do respond to ads like these. It’s more like that La Difference wants the buzz.
    You are right that crashing plates and emotional intimacy are more enticing to most women.

  3. Great timing. Is it boob season because of breast cancer awareness? How perfect. Here’s a link to more on the same subject of selling boobs to get men’s attention to donate towards a breast cancer campaign…which was by the way very successful. Does that matter? Is nothing out of bounds when it comes to women’s body parts?
    Beyond Boobs: An Open Letter to the Breast Cancer Community:

  4. elissa mast says:

    I find your viewpoint very old fashioned. I thought the ad was funny. I’m a 38 year old femail La Diff customer and even if I didn’t connect with their ads, I’d still shop there. The owners are friendly, they are the only real contemporary furniture destination in Richmond and they do a lot of community service. Jeez–slide them some slack.

  5. Sarah Paxton says:

    Holly, we at LaDiff would be delighted to discuss any of this with you in person, if you’d like. The ‘committee’ who gave the green light for the production of this ad included one man and three women (two in their 40’s and one in her 20’s).
    There were other options on the table – frankly, some that were more crass, in my opinion, that used male stereotypes instead of female. With the idea of the crashing dishes, I am reminded of the various television ads for ED, where parents find themselves having to explain to their children what’s going on. We wanted to avoid that entirely.
    With this ad… the woman is obviously delighted by her new dining room set, a beautiful Danish modern round extension table from Skovby furniture with four gorgeous chairs, finished in natural American walnut. Stunning, and, as she says, hot (oh, and also on sale right now). She just happens to be dressed in a way that accentuates her assets. (And her purple dress looks great with that green background!)
    Frankly, women dress for other women more than they dress for men (anyone who’s worn painfully uncomfortable high-heeled boots knows that… it’s the women who covet them).
    This woman is not a tart (the actress or the role). She is smart, she is sophisticated, and she’s clever… just like the women who work for us and just like the women who shop at our store.
    Part of being a ‘feminist’ is being able to be proud of your ‘assets’ without having to hide them. We can be smart and sexy at the same time. We can laugh at ourselves because we are secure in who we are. We can also flaunt our best features for the same reason.
    Truthfully, though, you’re right… we wanted to create buzz. Thank you for helping us do that.
    Feel free to call us at the store if you want to know more.

  6. Richard Tubman says:

    You won’t shop there anymore because you don’t like one ad? Come on. The folks at La Dif are not lazy or unaware. You may not like this ad but it’s not easy getting customers to buy furniture in this economy and I applaud them for trying something different.

  7. Jerry Nowell says:

    I know Andy Thornton and Sarah Paxton well, and I can assure you that they are neither lazy nor indifferent to the issues you raise. They put more thought into every facit of their business than nearly anyone I know. The world is full of bad corporate citizens. La Diff is not among them. Many retailers (myself included) look to them for leadershiop in striking the balance between profitable business and social responsibility. They’ve been an asset to their community for 25 years. Even if you find this particular advertisement profoundly offensive, would it be unreasonable to forgive one mistake every quarter century? You think La Diff’s advertising people are boobs. OK. You got it off your chest. Now go buy some furniture from La Diff while its still on sale.

  8. I make a personal policy to mute all TV commercials and pay as little attention to them as possible. I watch TV to be entertained, not to be subjected to 1,000 sales pitches for products I’m never going to buy. So if a company is going to interrupt a TV show that I’m watching, the least they could do is show me a beautiful woman.

  9. Holly Buchanan says:

    Great discussion folks – thanks for all who are participating.
    Sarah Paxton – thanks for responding personally. As I said, I’m a long time fan of La Diff and everything the brand stands for. I’m sure there are many women who will find this ad clever. That’s the great thing about women – we are so diverse in our thoughts and opinions.
    There’s nothing wrong with the woman in the ad. Love her dress. I just would have rather seen more of that gorgeous “Danish modern round extension table from Skovby furniture with four gorgeous chairs” you talk about. You can only see the furniture in :03 seconds of the ad (from :16-:19). I think your furniture is more “hot” than any actor or actress and would love to see it be the star of the show.
    To the commenter who didn’t leave her name – Levy’s is a terrific shop. Love them.

  10. Thanks a lot for your post…your posts are always enjoyable.Hearing about La Dif for the first time…well after reading this post,me being a woman would certainly not consider it.

  11. Hi Holly,
    I agree with your points – there are other ways to reach men besides boobs. Alas, even the well-intentioned, advocacy-oriented healthcare community can get it wrong, in my opinion.
    That’s why I posted this call-to-action at
    Thanks for raising the issue and helping us advocate for smart marketing to women!

  12. Hello, I agree with your points.

  13. you made very good points here, I agree with you.

  14. craftmatic says:

    Women brings joy to life, this are the essence of a women. Just this point of view. women deserve to be respected no matter what she is…

  15. Jason Webb says:

    Good thinking..This is really a contemporary style and dining room buffets
    Jason Webb

  16. Jason Webb says:

    I forget to mention i don’t see any funny element there
    Jason Webb

  17. hmm, kinda stiff ad. Really forced if you’d ask me. She is so fake and the furniture chosen is way to “sterile” for any guy’s taste. (i suppose)

  18. I find that a lot of advertising is out of touch with most women. Just look at the ads in Glamor and Vogue . . . I can’t afford their stuff, I can’t look like them and many of the clothing designs I could never wear to work.

  19. I agree with your points – there are other ways to reach men besides boobs. Alas, even the well-intentioned, advocacy-oriented healthcare community can get it wrong, in my opinion.

  20. This is definitely a result of creation luck , the add cute but we all saw this concept to many times. Such a good furniture store should advertise it self more wisely.

  21. I agree with craftmatic said. Women should be respected not humiliated… But you got a good point also in here…

  22. For me it’s boring. I’m not convince!

  23. Not everybody loves this ad but I surely do enjoy this. It’s outbox of the box.

  24. Although very creative and eye catching ad but not entirely appropriate. But I must admit this is funny 🙂

  25. Hey, if it works and makes people purchase products, why not!

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  28. And do they think so little of their female customers that they’d run a stupid boob joke ad?

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