August 11, 2005
When I watched my first clip of the Vegan Vixen (www.veganvixen.org) the other day, I wasn’t sure whether to be amused or appalled. But as I watched more, I fell more on the amused side of the fence.
Here’s the 411: a group of micro-mini-skirt-wearing California vegans, lead by actress Sky Valencia, has decided to take a more, uh, attention-grabbing approach to getting grill-loving, steak-eating, burger guys to try vegan food. They have a half hour show on some California cable station, but they’re attracting national attention for their antics. One New York article dubbed them “the soy of sex.”
Anyway, their show is loaded with sexual innuendo, bad jokes about bananas and cucumbers, and plenty of Vegan Vixen cleavage. In one episode, they stopped by a local Santa Barbara restaurant and dared a 20-something looking guy to order vegan for lunch. Okay, they cooed it in his ear and offered to pay for it as one of the Vixens rubbed against his arm…and it worked. He ordered a vegan sandwich and told them it tasted good.
But their critics claim that they’re cheapening the vegan cause with their sexy style. Valencia responded this way, “We aren’t trying to convince people like them. We’re trying to convince people who would never dream of watching a vegetarian show. And we think the best way to do that is in a funny way with sex appeal. Yes, you’ve got to be tough, but you’ve got to be sellable.”
Hmmm. As much as I’d like to dismiss anything put out there by a woman who’s using her own breasts to get others to give up chicken breasts, she has a point. I’m not the audience. Men are. And the men they’re targeting – these young guys – well, guess what? They respond to sex.
Which all goes to say, once again, you have to know your audience. The Vegan Vixen have obviously decided that men are their target, and they risk losing some female support along the way. Hmmm, is this sounding at all familiar? Like most of the marketing done for the last 50 years? Women have been expected to support and relate with messages designed for men, and finally, we’re making some real progress – well, maybe in the carnivorous world, anyway.