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Do "Boob" Ads Sell Solar?


  01:09:00 pm, by Sara Pavey   , 1015 words  
Categories: Residential Solar, Ranting

Do "Boob" Ads Sell Solar?

[Editor’s Note: Run on Sun’s Project Coordinator, Sara Pavey, takes on a disturbing trend in solar advertising, and she does so with passion.  Warning: May be NSFW!]

 Would you buy leads from these people?

The ad above was trying to sell us leads.  Mind you, Run on Sun does not now, and never has purchased leads, but for some reason all of my online searching was dominated by these ads.

That’s bad enough, but this ad on the left from Twitter is trying to suck you in, dear reader. They want you to become one of the excellent leads that they will attempt to sell to a bunch of installers. Well, dearest neighbor whom we adore, you ARE excellent, but please don’t give them your information.  (If you want to consider solar but not scatter your contact information to all corners of the web, you can contact us here.)

But this stupid ad begs a host of questions:

  • What is she carrying? A remote survival power kit? I found it online. It looks neat. You might use it for camping. This has NOTHING to do with residential solar. This would be like using an image of a propane camping stove to market Wolf gas ranges.

  • It comes across as though it’s going to talk trash about solar, and reads like the clickbait links that say, “one simple trick to lose weight / pay off your mortgage / pay off your loans” and you know those are super shady. (I hope you know those are super shady.) Are they really trying to get people on board who are total suckers for every bit of clickbait? I’m embarrassed that people might see this who know that I work in the solar industry.

  • If you see this ad on Twitter (as I do several times a day), and read the comments, most of the attention it’s getting is about the woman in the photo. Very little is said about the odd panel kit she is carrying. Much is said about her appearance, including the hope that she is the installer or the sales rep. “Oh Sara, you can just block them.” To me, that sounds a lot like “just ignore them” in reference to other things that we have collectively decided are no longer acceptable. So I am not going to “just block them.”

Now, it’s all fine and dandy to suggest that you steer clear of these ads. But my bigger issue with this ad is that they are using BOOBS to generate leads that will ultimately send a sales rep to a home. Is the solar company’s appointment setter going to get the creeper question, “Was that you in the ad? Huh huh huh?” Is that sales rep assigned to this lead going to be a woman who gets to go meet with a potential new client who was first drawn in by a terrible ad? Is this the type of ad that is going to win over the marketing director at a solar company? Does HR want their reps going solo to homes when the leads came from a creepy irrelevant boob ad? I have my doubts about the quality of leads coming from boobs carrying a heavy box with a tiny solar panel kit, but what do I know about marketing?

What I do know, as a woman in a technical industry, is that even in our sunny egalitarian utopian solar industry, there are more men than women, there are plenty of skeevs and pervs, and there is still a lot of work to be done before Solar can claim that it’s not a sexist industry. Make no mistake, it’s better than a lot of other industries. But we can do better.

In case you’re curious about the fine quality of humans who noticed the Twitter ad, here is an abridged micro-sample of typical responses. Decide for yourself how effective this ad campaign is:


What company in their right mind, wants to have these sorts of comments  generated by an ad they are sponsoring?

As a woman who meets with potential clients, I have zero interest in meeting with people who came to us because they clicked on the boobs link.

The number of women in the industry is growing rapidly. At last count, women made up 27% of the workforce. Plenty of women are going solo to sales calls with homeowners who may be total dirtbags and are only interested in the boobs.

Most of the people who takes calls at your local solar company are women – and we just looove it when the caller, a potential client, has feedback on how pretty we must be because of the sound of our voice. Many of the people in marketing, rebate processing, interconnection processing, design, project management, finance, and HR are women. We don’t have lingerie-clad boothbabes (anymore) and we don’t need boobs to sell solar. Solar is cool enough to stand on its own.

When the industry is using boobs to sell a product, and a quarter of the people in the industry are objectified by the ads, there is a problem. Using boobs to sell something is nothing new, but I wonder how often they appear in other product marketing in industries where women are alone with potential clients? How many realtors depend on photos of boobs in front of a home to sell that house? How many doctors have a photo of boobs in their exam room to drive new patient business? How many dentists have ads showing boobs getting their teeth x-rayed? There’s a big difference between a Realtor’s glamour shot and this ad.

 Mercifully, we found plenty of people who were completely turned off by the ad:


There were lots more comments like this scattered in the stream.

Can anything profitable come from this sort of ad?


So, all hope is not lost for humanity, but I have my doubts about the quality of leads from an ad like this. And if I were at a company that bought leads, I would look elsewhere for those services. Or I’d let HR know that I set my team up for some unpleasant experiences.


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Jim Jenal is the Founder & CEO of Run on Sun, Pasadena's premier installer and integrator of top-of-the-line solar power installations.
Run on Sun also offers solar consulting services, working with consumers, utilities, and municipalities to help them make solar power affordable and reliable.

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