The X-Ray EIZO Medical Pin-up Calendar, A Clever Marketing Tool

The Eizo Nanao Group, a Japanese company in the sexy business of making medical imaging equipment, has released a pinup calendar as part of a new marketing effort crafted by the German ad firm Butter. It’s quite revealing, to say the least.

Real X-ray? Not so fast!


Photoshop renderings of X-Ray Model

X-ray images of nude models hit the internet and caused a storm of link sharing and comments. The images were packaged as a pinup calendar and its oddly titillating play on nudity had nerds ogling and wondering about the images’ origins. Blogs asked “Are these images racy?,” and even, “Is it porn?” More questions arose: Were those gray-scale protrusions nipple or rib?

The X-Rays were in fact part of the EIZO Medical Pin-up Calendar, a clever marketing tool for a niche company whose product most people didn’t even know existed.

“The calendar has achieved more than we ever thought it would as a promotional initiative,” say Dusseldorf-based design firm Butter and EIZO, who makes the x-ray monitors the calendar was designed to sell, in a joint statement. “The promotional effect of the calendar goes well beyond the people we were trying to reach.”

On the interwebs, the calendar ignited wonder and worry. Had EIZO hired and endangered actual models? “Are you going to lose 20 minutes of your life to this full body scanner?” asked Cool Material. Comment boards filled with speculation on the amount of radiation emitted during a full body scan.

Only a few viewers were certain the images were digital composites, “It’s totally shopped. For example, Mrs. July has dark nipples. If anything, they would show up as white. Radiologists sometimes even put little markers so that nipples are not mistaken for tumors,” said one Boing Boing commenter.

Now Butter puts the record straight, saying, “We are sorry to tell you that our calender girl is just a virtual model so we can not send you any pictures of her.” The firm has also handed us their working wireframes to show how the images were made.

That’s right, it’s all a fiction and she’s all pixels; the work of CGI Illustrator Carsten Mainz and the concept of Butter’s art director, Nadine Schlichte.

Schlichte conceived of the idea while brainstorming to find Christmas presents that its client EIZO could give to its own physician clients. “Whereas craftsmen are showered with pin-up-calenders at the end of every year, this kind of present is less popular amongst physicians,” says Dorota Schupke of Butter in an e-mail, “Why not break with this tradition?”

Intended only for a small audience the calendar quickly went viral, a favorite of news sites and blogs alike. “Our actual intention was to stimulate more interest for what is the highly complex, technically sophisticated area of EIZO monitors for diagnostic purposes and viewing of x-ray images,” say Butter, “As you can imagine, the target market for this kind of specialist, highly-priced monitors is very small.”

But only sex sells better than humor and this project delivers both. The tagline Butter and EIZO now use? ‘The EIZO Medical pin-up calendar — just like EIZO monitors — really does show every detail.’

Surprised but enlivened by the success of the calendar, EIZO and Butter are thinking of re-running it and making it “accessible to the public at large.” In anticipation of demand they’ve also put out advanced advisory, “Distribution of the calendar will, however, vary at national level.”


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