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Sex in Advertising: Does it Sell?


We're surrounded by advertisements that desperately compete for our attention. Everywhere we look, we find ourselves inevitably drawn to images of scantily clad attractive men and women that are supposed to somehow inspire us to purchase products they endorse. Sure, this attention-getting strategy is popular. But, is it effective?

Sex appeal can increase the effectiveness of an ad or commercial because it attracts the customer's attention. It's human nature to be curious about sex. A pair of long legs on a billboard is more likely to catch (and hold) a guy's attention than a puppy, regardless of how cute it may be. Even women are drawn to them, perhaps with the desire of having goddess-like legs.

However, misuse of sex appeal can be costly. Many campaigns deemed offensive have started brand boycotts that affect sales and damage brand reputation. Abercrombie & Fitch has been involved in several scandals, the latest from their most recent catalog entitled "XXX Wet, Hot Summer Fun." On April 18, 2002, only a week after the catalog hit the stores, the Illinois State Senate passed a resolution condemning A&F's advertising tactics. This resolution, backed by several nonprofit organizations, suggests citizens and shareholders boycott Abercrombie's products and to take a stand against the company's marketing strategies. Although sexy images in catalogs are not at all uncommon, "XXX Wet, Hot Summer Fun" featured naked boys and girls frolicking in natural settings. Not quite appropriate for an apparel catalog targeted at teenagers.

Sex in advertising has stirred controversy for many years, an advertiser must be careful when incorporating it in a campaign. Great advertisers consider not only the attention-getting power of an advertisement or commercial, but also what kind of emotional response it provokes in customers. Studies show that the attractiveness of the endorsing model provokes positive responses. Nudity and graphic erotic content, while still increasing consumer's attention, doesn't really generate positive feelings among viewers. In other words, advertisers must be careful to avoid the "cheap shot," which may negatively affect a brand's image.

To avoid that, the sexual content in advertising must be appropriate to the product category and have a proper underlying message. In 2000, Heineken launched the "It's All About the Beer" campaign. One spot, called "The Premature Pour," shows a beautiful seductive woman pouring Heineken into a glass. When a guy across the bar responds by pouring his own, he nervously pours too fast and spills foam all over the table and himself. The sexual content is implicit, yet direct. The sexual reference in this and other spots in the campaign worked, causing sales to rise 13% in the first two quarters of 2002. However, Steve Davis (VP of marketing in Heineken USA), claims that, "Provocative is a very good place to be, as long as we're not inflammatory. But the spots also work for a different reason. From the tag line to the plot, they are about a desire for Heineken. Our ads make the beer the hero."

Sex sells, yes, but only when used "in good taste." As marketers we must think not only in getting customers' attention for the short term, but also in building a brand reputation that will yield long-term results.


Todays News by officejax free advertising and ad exchange solutionsMORE RESOURCES updated Wed. April / 24 / 2024

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Google Chrome IP masking could radically impact search advertising  Search Engine Land

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Lunchables facing lawsuit due to ‘deceptive advertising’  WSOC Charlotte

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Hyundai Pauses Advertising On X After Pro-Nazi Adjacency 04/22/2024  MediaPost Communications

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Tesla cuts marketing team a year after Musk said it will try advertising  Ad Age

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Tesla US advertising team affected by layoffs: report  TESLARATI

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Elon Musk labels Tesla's advertising 'generic' as it lays off entire marketing team  Marketing Week

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Biden builds early advertising edge as Trump spends millions on legal fees  CNN

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Temu's ad blitz exposes DTC turmoil: decoding the turbulent terrain  Digiday

Jo Ann Ross, First Woman to Lead Broadcast TV Ad Sales, Plans to Exit Paramount Global (EXCLUSIVE) - Variety
Jo Ann Ross, First Woman to Lead Broadcast TV Ad Sales, Plans to Exit Paramount Global (EXCLUSIVE)  Variety

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Grindr sold HIV status of “potentially thousands” of users to advertisers, lawsuit says  The Hill

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Free Course Aims to Train Advertisers to Combat Climate Change  Sustainable Brands

Major EU Regulator Threatens Free Social Media by Cracking Down on Personalized Advertising - Cato Institute
Major EU Regulator Threatens Free Social Media by Cracking Down on Personalized Advertising  Cato Institute

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REMINDER: Political and advertising lawn signs are ILLEGAL in public right-of-ways  Tri-State Alert

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What Drives Advertising Effectiveness? It's Not What Most Marketers Think.  Insideradio.com

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Digital advertising firm Adludio launches AdSapiens  Martechcube

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Santa Fe Reporter Advertising  Santa Fe Reporter

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Be everywhere with Adwerx’s latest digital advertising solution  Inman

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Advertising & Promotion for Medical Products Conference  Food and Drug Law Institute

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Advertising generates profit, but not all media channels are equal  The Media Leader

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City deal gives Mercyhealth exclusive health care advertising rights at Woodman's Center  WCLO

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Temu's Advertising Avalanche Is Impossible to Ignore  Adweek

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How A+E Blends Content and Innovation for Advertising Impact  cynopsis.com

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Connecticut Bill To Allow Betting On In-State Colleges, Tighten Advertising  Sports Betting Dime

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Marketers Falsely Place Lower Value On Creative Advertising  Radio Ink

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Grindr users sue app for allegedly selling HIV data to advertisers  TNW

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Mental health platform fined $7M by FTC for sharing data with advertisers  HealthExec

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Lunchables facing lawsuit due to 'deceptive advertising'  WSOC Charlotte

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Hyundai is the latest brand to pause advertising on X due to antisemitism  CNN

Google's Sandbox: Privacy or Power Play? - CMSWire
Google's Sandbox: Privacy or Power Play?  CMSWire

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Cinemark being sued for alleged false advertising of 24-ounce drink cups  WPVI-TV

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Advertising, Media & PR Winners Unveiled For 28th Annual Webby Awards  SHOOT Online

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Lack of competition, advertising for primary election believed to have caused light turnout in Schuylkill County  Republican & Herald

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Arkansas dispensary files lawsuit against state for less restrictions on advertising  WATN - Local 24

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Mobile Advertising Statistics 2024 By Advertising Spending, Most Popular Monetization Methods And In-App Ads  Coolest Gadgets

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Tesla guts newly formed marketing team despite investors demanding greater focus on ads as EV sales slow  Fortune

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Ad Law Tool Kit Show - Episode 12 - Telemarketing And Texting (Podcast) - Advertising, Marketing & Branding - United ...  Mondaq News Alerts

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Into the archives: The history of Clarion advertising – DU Clarion  DU Clarion

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Invibes Advertising Full Year 2023 Earnings: EPS Beats Expectations  Simply Wall St

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How can brands effectively reach the Olympic audience with connected TV advertising?  The Drum

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Why B2B marketers are advertising more like consumer brands to break through a crowded marketplace  Digiday

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Advertising heats up in Arizona Senate race, previewing a tough campaign  NBC News

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Interactive Advertising Bureau  IAB

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J.D. Power's Jominy: 'Radio Remains Vital' For Auto Advertisers.  Insideradio.com

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Essity Joins United Nations Initiative To Promote Inclusive  CSRwire.com

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Advertising returns a short-term ROI of £1.87 for every pound invested, study finds  Marketing Week

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11 States Now Have Laws Limiting Artificial Intelligence, Deep Fakes, and Synthetic Media in Political Advertising ...  Broadcast Law Blog

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Daniel Wellington Advertising Store  Atlanta Progressive News

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Global Social Media Advertising Pioneer Foap Strengthens Management Board | LBBOnline  Little Black Book - LBBonline

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Advertisers are not fully prepared for the demise of third-party cookies, WARC says  Campaign US

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U.S. Audio Advertising, Driven by Digital, Gains Ground.  Insideradio.com

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Bill would ban PG&E from being able to charge customers for advertising on top of utilities  KGO-TV

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P&G Advertising to Continue to Grow , Emphasis on Home Care  Portada-online.com

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What film photography has taught me about the fundamentals of advertising  Creativebrief

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Revolut bids to boost revenues via targeted advertising  Finextra

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Tesla discloses it spent $200,000 advertising on X  CNN

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Lamar OOH advertising donation to support Boys & Girls Clubs of America  Digital Signage Today

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Beyond Spots & Dots Triumphs at the 39th Annual Educational Advertising Awards  Business Wire

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Advertise With MLB Trade Rumors  MLB Trade Rumors

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McCain Advertising Campaign Impact | Vidoomy & Partners  Circana

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Tesla Layoffs Hit Marketing Team, Retracts Advertising Push - Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA)  Benzinga

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How to drive cost savings in digital advertising — and reduce waste in the process  Campaign US

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Banner advertising contract military service in the Ukrainian Armed Forces is seen in central Kyiv  Colorado Springs Gazette

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Zumedia Inc. Launches Groundbreaking New Advertising And Broadcast Platform, Setting Its Sights On Utilizing Ad ...  PR Newswire

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Linkage Global Inc's Subsidiary Signs Advertising  GlobeNewswire

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How Utiq Hopes to Become "Fundamental to the Digital Advertising Ecosystem"  VideoWeek

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American Privacy Rights Act could ban ad targeting in US  Ad Age

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SkyShowtime and Paramount Advertising International announce exclusive ad sales partnership  Broadband TV News

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Most Dating Apps May Sell Your Personal Data For Advertising: Report  NDTV

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MarketInk: Advertising Agency The Shipyard to Acquire Midwest PR Firm Fahlgren Mortine  Times of San Diego

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'Made for Advertising' Websites Are the Marketing Industry's Latest Messy Situation  The Wall Street Journal

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2023 U.S. Digital Advertising Industry Hits New Record, According to IAB's Annual Internet Advertising Revenue Report  IAB

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Biden builds early advertising edge as Trump spends millions on legal fees  News-Press Now

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Advertise With Us  Eagle 99.3 FM WSCH

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Virgin Media taps PubMatic to scale FAST advertising  Digital TV Europe

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Advertising restrictions can have harmful effects on women’s health. Here’s what one company is doing about it  CNN

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Tesla's short-lived marketing team laid off  Business Insider

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Best Cross-Channel Strategy – Rakuten Advertising & OUAI Haircare  Hello Partner

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Tesla has spent $200K advertising on Elon Musk’s X so far  TechCrunch

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Senate Democrats plot $79M advertising onslaught to hold on in November  POLITICO

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New Made for Advertising rules—what marketers need to know following online controversy  Ad Age

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Clean Creatives: Over 1000 advertising and PR firms promise to reject fossil fuel clients  BusinessGreen

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CEO of Collective Audience, Peter Bordes, Inducted into NJ Advertising Hall of Fame  GlobeNewswire

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Broadcasters mount last-minute blitz to delete tax on 'digital ads' from Pillen plan • Nebraska Examiner  Nebraska Examiner

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Hyundai Pauses Advertising On X After Being Shown Alongside Antisemitic Post  CarScoops

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Tesla Cuts Marketing Team in Reversal of Musk's Ad Strategy  Bloomberg

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Hyundai Halts Advertising On "X" After Ad Appears Beside Antisemitic Post - AutoSpies Auto News  AutoSpies.com

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Two Ana de Armas Fans Settle False Advertising Lawsuit Over ‘Yesterday’ Trailer  Variety

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Most dating apps likely sell users' personal data for advertising: Report reveals  India TV News

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'Mobile streaming knows no boundaries': Advertising body clears MultiChoice of racism in ad | Life  News24

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What we're losing in the blinding whiteness of advertising  Fast Company

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