March 25, 2011
A racy video game commercial featuring Serena Williams was shelved by developer 2K Sports after it was deemed too risqué for television.
The 60-second spot for "Top Spin 4" features a scantily-clad Serena playing the new video game against an actress wearing even less clothing. The matchup is billed as "the world's sexiest tennis player" against "the world's sexiest tennis gamer." There are shots of nearly bare bottoms, unseemly facial expressions and lots of cleavage, accompanied by a thumping techno beat and suggestive moaning. At the end of the ad, Williams asks breathily, "You realize this is a fantasy, right?" (Click here to watch the banned advertisement. Borderline NSFW.)
"As part of the process for creating marketing campaigns to support our titles, we pursue a variety of creative avenues," the company wrote in a statement. "This video is not part of the title's final marketing campaign and its distribution was unauthorized."
The objections ring hollow, and so does the outrage. The 2K Sports commercial was commissioned, produced and wrapped under the company's supervision or the supervision of a designated advertising firm. It went viral and gained the attention of countless consumers who would have never heard of the game otherwise, and it's gaining even more attention now thanks to the controversy.
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It's hard to see how 2K Sports didn't hit their target with this one. And it's hard to see how this particular commercial crossed a line not already trampled by other athletes. After all, a half-naked Rafael Nadal is appearing on billboards all over Europe in a new Armani underwear campaign that's pretty much a carbon copy of the Calvin Klein ads from a few years ago that featured soccer stars like David Beckham and Freddie Ljungberg.
Williams appeared to be proud of the commercial; last week she tweeted that fans should be on the lookout for an "awesomely sexy video." If she's fine with it, so am I. And so, I'm sure, is 2K Sports. A little controversy never hurts sales.
That was the whole point of this in the first place, right?
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