For four years, creative directors Céline and Clément Mornet-Landa have navigated the different barriers related to sexuality alongside SKYN in order to produce inclusive campaigns that go beyond just sex. Sexuality isn’t always an easy thing to talk about – a lot is left unspoken, and there are many taboos culturally, personally, or otherwise.
“We want to break down these barriers and help people with the intimate side of life. The goal isn’t to shock; it’s to inspire, and maybe even liberate.”
A human perspective on sexuality
When ads depict sexuality, it’s usually shown in a stereotypical way with very glamorous, often overly “sexual” people. Or, conversely, there’s no sexuality, and everything is framed in more of a romantic context. Many campaigns focus on performance and personal pleasure.
SKYN’s campaigns have focused on talking about the topic in terms of sharing and interaction. That’s why we usually choose to show couples and use that kind of framework. We want to depict a more altruistic view of sexuality. Whether through commercials or poster campaigns, we want people to take an interest in both their own pleasure as well as their partner’s, and to be respectful. As a result, we manage to show chemistry as well as love in a very natural way.
Authenticity is crucial for this creative pair — they always try to be as close to reality as possible without casting any judgement. Due to COVID, they had to call upon real couples for their Pleasure Is an Endless Exploration campaign, which was made available on TV and on social media. It proved to be beneficial: in working with these couples, on top of getting the kind of chemistry they were looking for, they were able to capture something even more real and show faces that looked like everyday people.
An inclusive approach
Another important element was making sure that SKYN is an inclusive brand, showing different orientations and genders — like homosexual couples and trans people — and showing people of different nationalities and ages. “For us, having the work be a reflection of the world we live in and showing all of the different kinds of sexualities and people within our society are essential.” Céline and Clément’s message is simple: as long as it’s legal and between consenting adults, there’s no right or wrong when it comes to sexuality.
And if they feel that something is illegal for the wrong reasons, they’ll defend it to move the dial. When they learned that sex toys were illegal in many places in the United States, they took advantage of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing in 2019 to launch a commercial and poster campaign to show how ridiculous it is to promote space exploration, yet restrict self-exploration.
Campaigns without taboos
Covering every aspect of sexuality also means overcoming some particularly difficult barriers, like talking about impotence. How do you broach a topic like this with younger generations? By creating, for example, an erectile dysfunction pill bottle that stays upright. By systematically downplaying topics that are a little taboo by talking about them in a funny and sometimes quirky way. And by starting a more positive conversation on the subject without ever preaching, and instead exciting and inspiring people, and encouraging them to nurture a healthy sex life.
Therein lies an important part of being an advertiser: creating ads that normalize things. “An ad that’s shown on TV or the Internet is usually a reflection of society. People tell themselves that if it’s in an ad, then it’s normal.”
By being inclusive and talking about sexuality without any taboos, we can shift attitudes.