Recently, my laugh was compared to that of Wilma Flintstone.
Now I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been compared to a cartoon character before so I turned to my social network friends and followers to determine whether that was a compliment or an insult.
It appears that it was a compliment. As one of my Twitter followers put it:
“A ‘bit like Wilma’?! Are you kidding? You are Wilma! You’ll have prompted many a secret fantasy for men of a certain age.”
Far too complimentary about me, I think, but what is really interesting is that it appears Wilma Flintstone could be responsible for corrupting many a man around the world during their formative years.
And it turns out that my Twitter follower is not alone in his appreciation of the alluring appeal of a sexy, female cartoon character. Remember Garth Algar’s penchant for a rabbit in drag in the film Wayne’s World?:
“Did you ever find Bugs Bunny attractive when he put on a dress and played a girl bunny?”
OK, Bugs Bunny isn’t quite a female cartoon character, but Garth obviously considered an animated rabbit sexy, nevertheless. Fascinated by this concept, I began to consider the power of this phenomenon and how it could be used to positive effect in advertising.
During my research I stumbled across a survey by Cadbury Dairy Milk in 2009, conducted to celebrate the return of the Cadbury bunny to billboard and magazine adverts, and discovered that 37 per cent thought the seductive Jessica Rabbit was the most alluring female cartoon character.
Betty Boop, famed for her short skirts and curly black hair, was the second favourite with the chocolate-loving bunny in third, hotly pursued by other femme fatales including, yes, the foxy Wilma.
But what is the appeal of these hand-drawn, seductive, characters? Apparently, 28 per cent of those surveyed said that body shape was the most alluring quality, while others admitted that the most important attributes were large enticing eyes and a memorable voice.
The advertising industry has long been aware of this appeal. With the sole objective of taking the audience through a journey from awareness to action, there is evidence that the aspirational appeal of the celebrity is a powerful mechanism in engaging the emotions of the audience. And you don’t need to be flesh and bones to fall into this ‘celebrity’ category.
Dove, for example, used this to brilliant effect in their press campaign for a new range of hair products, featuring a number of instantly recognisable characters, including Wilma, in a humourous way.
Whilst the primary audience may well be women, I now suspect that the advertisers were also hoping to appeal to a secondary male audience as influencers in the purchasing process.
So, all things considered, being compared to Wilma, or rather Wilma Pebble Slaghoople Flintstone to give her full name, is actually quite complimentary, even if it is just my laugh.
The evidence it clear – compiled by Kings Lynn Online, the recording starts with me and finishes with Wilma….
It could have been worse…after all, my laugh could have been compared to Woody Woodpecker!