Does sex really sell? Well, you decide for yourself.
Jef Richards, an advertising professor with The University of Texas, Austin, said “In advertising, sex sells. But only if you’re selling sex.”
Not according to the a survey conducted by MediaAnalyzer.
Sex in print advertisements actually improves the advertising effectiveness for men, but make it less likely that they will recall any brand name the ad was promoting. This is simply because men and women focus differently when their eyeballs connect with a sexy advertisement. MediaAnalyzer published its report in Adweek using the following MasterCard advertisement as a reference.
31% men looked at the boobs first, then proceeded to the face (26%) and to the burger (24%). Only 3% men looked at the logo. This was a remarkable difference to 31% women who made equal efforts to look at both face and burger, follow with the brand (7%) and then lingered at the headline (14%). So men spent time admiring the sexual imaginary. While the women read the text and look at who’s offering what.
Let’s look at another rather innovative way to sell a motorbike by an Italian brand, Aprilla. The advertising text is “On my scooter everything has to be perfect“. Why a woman’s butt? Why not a man’s? Why must it be a photographed female body? Why can’t it be a hand-drawn keyline of a human body? The brand most probably speculated that any man who owned a gorgeous bike would consider it “sexy”. Naturally, everything MUST look good on his bike … including his girl. A chick with a firm butt is therefore a pre-requisite. This scooter might not be a super model, but the brand statement does make it sound as if it were. Honestly, if you don’t look at it from the sexual perspective and forget about discrimination of the fairer sex, this ad is actually quite hilarious. Come on, how many men will actually go around measuring a woman’s butt? Anyway, if the MediaAnalyzer’s report is true, than Aprilla should be laughing it’s way to the bank.
However, some sexy (and funny) advertisements did not make it big, meaning they did not manage to establish themselves as the globally must-use version. Can you for a moment believe that the straight laced Microsoft actually ran ads with sexual connotations? Just look at this MS Office Student and Teacher Edition 2003 ad. The adverting text read “What price are you paying to get your assignment done?”. This ad was only used in New Zealand for a short run. The dumb blond was obviously the one paying the price to a teacher or a nerdy fellow student. Whatever the case, the academics and the education enforcers were certainly not amused by this ad.
Well, this last one was steamy and hot, so much so that Candies’ Fragrances for Men & Women had to cut 2 versions, one for periodicals targeted at adults and another one for teens.
The ad on the right has condom packs on the counter and the guy’s crack was there for all to see. The left ad was touched up so that it is less offensive. But is this ad sexy? Or is it blatantly immoral to encourage teenage girls to have a tryst? Moralists and feminists would be quick to point out that the male lead here looked domineering, demanding, and ready for action. And the girl, by her very posture, was an accessory, a plaything, destined to provide pleasure. Would man buy the fragrance? Probably. Perhaps not the women.
Sex appeal and sex in advertising are here to stay. That’s absolutely, definitely and undeniably certain. But does sex sells? Yes it does, especially if it is related to sex. Yet again, maybe not. You decide. You tell me.
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