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How Kraft salad dressing is profiting off the female gaze

This past spring, Salon received repeated emails from a public relations firm representing the star of an ad campaign. Behind this Borgesian hall of mirrors lay a potential interview subject, the "New Face of America's Hottest Campaign," a model and actor who would soon begin representing Kraft's "Zesty" Italian dressing in what was termed a "super sexy secret ad campaign."

We thought nothing of it, at the time; the campaign hadn't launched yet. It ended up being one of the most compellingly offbeat campaigns in recent memory -- and we later received a slew of press releases indicating that they'd been right all along. Kraft had manufactured a star as easily as it would have manufactured a brick of Velveeta.

In the inaugural ad, salad dressing, that least sexy of foodstuffs, is slowly poured on a burning skillet by the model, one Anderson Davis (previously of campaigns for Gillette and Bud Lite, as well as a Katy Perry music video). The final dollop of dressing ends up burning his shirt off. In print ads, Davis, as "the Zesty Guy," lounges shirtless amid still-life tableaux of salad and pasta dishes. The message is twofold:

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