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The Naked Truth About Zappos
By: Shawn Paul Wood
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Companies like Southwest Airlines and Nordstrom are known for two things: great service and amazing PR. They always get the stories, and for what? Reputation. They just keep doing what they do and the press takes turns swirling in that rotating door outside the media relations office. Good times, right?

Another company like that is Zappos.

Their model was genius. Ordering shoes through the mail? Yeah, that worked out all right. Their service is brilliant. I'll bet Shaq could order some penny loafers through them, and they would find a way to slide a pair on his size-23 gunboats.

And now, I suppose the free shipping shoe-ish company grows tired of the Caspar Milquetoast publicity. It wants the racy, OMG headlines...so we have this, as seen in the New York Times.

If sex sells, then nudity cannot be far behind. At least that is what Zappos, the online retailer, hopes with its new advertising campaign featuring naked models doing everyday things like jogging, hailing a cab and playing Frisbee in public.

That's right. Butt-naked women selling more (but not much more) than shoes. To some, this is genius advertising. To others, this is cardiac city and a reason never to buy shoes (or whatever) through Zappos.com again.

And why? Because their PR is better than stock. It's a gold brick that cannot be cashed. It's perception, and in this market, that seems to be the only thing you can get for free. Now, they are taking it out for a spin to see what it can do. Many have been screaming for Zappos to tap the brakes. Me? Run a red light. This is hilarious.

Sometime in August, the dirty old men of the nation will rejoice as these babies...er, puppies...I mean, um, ads hit newsstands everywhere. The ads will also feature QR codes that will bring up videos of what could have happened to the women, circa GoDaddy.com and the failed Danica Patrick experiment.

Do these risque ads besmerch the trust the public has placed in them? Will it affect their goodwill in a negative way? Is Zappos.com's PR a shield against the vocal minority? We'll soon see. However, there's only one true mystery that has yet to be answered.

Where will those QR codes be placed in the advertisement anyway? I'm just sayin'.


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About the Author
Shawn Paul Wood is a hack-turned-flack with more than 20 years of collective journalism, copywriting and marketing communications experience. Shawn Paul is founder of Woodworks Communications in Dallas, Texas. If you need him, ping him here or follow him on Twitter @ShawnPaulWood
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