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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 Mon. June / 17 / 2024

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Why some cities are banning fossil fuel advertisements  The Washington Post

The 'Mad Men' Era Is Long Over. Why Is Advertising Still So White? - The New York Times
The 'Mad Men' Era Is Long Over. Why Is Advertising Still So White?  The New York Times

Mozilla Welcomes Anonym: Privacy Preserving Digital Advertising - Mozilla & Firefox
Mozilla Welcomes Anonym: Privacy Preserving Digital Advertising  Mozilla & Firefox

Advertising and media elite return to Cannes Lions, as mega-yachts pull up to French Riviera - Page Six
Advertising and media elite return to Cannes Lions, as mega-yachts pull up to French Riviera  Page Six

Google loses bid to end US antitrust case over digital advertising - Reuters
Google loses bid to end US antitrust case over digital advertising  Reuters

Oracle is shutting down its advertising business despite millions in revenues - TechRadar
Oracle is shutting down its advertising business despite millions in revenues  TechRadar

Opinion: A bizarre advertising trend: All dads are incompetent buffoons now - The Globe and Mail
Opinion: A bizarre advertising trend: All dads are incompetent buffoons now  The Globe and Mail

Biden campaign launches advertising attack on 'convicted criminal' Trump - The Washington Post
  1. Biden campaign launches advertising attack on 'convicted criminal' Trump  The Washington Post
  2. Biden's campaign announces a $50 million advertising blitz highlighting Trump's conviction   The Atlanta Journal Constitution
  3. Biden’s reelection team launches $50 million ad campaign targeting Trump before the first debate  WTOP

Lamar Advertising Co's Dividend Analysis - Yahoo Finance
Lamar Advertising Co's Dividend Analysis  Yahoo Finance

As Google Targets AI Search Ads, It Could Learn a Lot From Bing - WIRED
As Google Targets AI Search Ads, It Could Learn a Lot From Bing  WIRED

Stagwell and Anzu Announce Strategic Partnership to Transform the In-Game Advertising Experience - PR Newswire
Stagwell and Anzu Announce Strategic Partnership to Transform the In-Game Advertising Experience  PR Newswire

Why advertising needs more queer leaders - Ad Age
Why advertising needs more queer leaders  Ad Age

BeautifulBeast Wins Best of Show at AAF American Advertising Awards | LBBOnline - Little Black Book - LBBonline
BeautifulBeast Wins Best of Show at AAF American Advertising Awards | LBBOnline  Little Black Book - LBBonline

Lamar Advertising (NASDAQ:LAMR) Shares Sold by American International Group Inc. - Defense World
Lamar Advertising (NASDAQ:LAMR) Shares Sold by American International Group Inc.  Defense World

Biden's campaign announces a $50 million advertising blitz highlighting Trump's conviction - Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Biden's campaign announces a $50 million advertising blitz highlighting Trump's conviction  Bozeman Daily Chronicle

Lamar Advertising Co's Dividend Analysis - Yahoo Finance UK
Lamar Advertising Co's Dividend Analysis  Yahoo Finance UK

Biden's campaign announces a $50 million advertising blitz highlighting Trump's conviction - The Caledonian-Record
Biden's campaign announces a $50 million advertising blitz highlighting Trump's conviction  The Caledonian-Record

Publishers' top tips for pitching advertisers at Cannes - Digiday
Publishers' top tips for pitching advertisers at Cannes  Digiday

Harnessing AI: Transforming Creative Development In Advertising - AdExchanger
Harnessing AI: Transforming Creative Development In Advertising  AdExchanger

Magna Raises U.S. and Global Ad Forecasts for 2024, But TV Still Expected to Decline - Hollywood Reporter
Magna Raises U.S. and Global Ad Forecasts for 2024, But TV Still Expected to Decline  Hollywood Reporter

New Report Shares Insight into a Cookie-Less, Data-Driven Approach to Advertising | LBBOnline - Little Black Book
New Report Shares Insight into a Cookie-Less, Data-Driven Approach to Advertising | LBBOnline  Little Black Book

Biden’s reelection team launches $50 million ad campaign targeting Trump before the first debate - FOX 59 Indianapolis
Biden’s reelection team launches $50 million ad campaign targeting Trump before the first debate  FOX 59 Indianapolis

Amazon hit with $122 mln US verdict in internet-advertising patent case - Reuters
Amazon hit with $122 mln US verdict in internet-advertising patent case  Reuters

Google's Attempt to Dismiss US Antitrust Case Over Digital Advertising Fails - PYMNTS.com
Google's Attempt to Dismiss US Antitrust Case Over Digital Advertising Fails  PYMNTS.com

United Selects Magnite's SpringServe to Power Advertising Solution for Inflight Personal Device Entertainment - StockTitan
United Selects Magnite's SpringServe to Power Advertising Solution for Inflight Personal Device Entertainment  StockTitan

Why Euro 2024 is 'a big step change' for the areas advertisers will rely on - Digiday
Why Euro 2024 is 'a big step change' for the areas advertisers will rely on  Digiday

Oracle Ads have had it: $2B operation shuts down after dwindling to $300M - The Register
Oracle Ads have had it: $2B operation shuts down after dwindling to $300M  The Register

United selects Magnite's SpringServe for inflight advertising solutions (NASDAQ:MGNI) - Seeking Alpha
United selects Magnite's SpringServe for inflight advertising solutions (NASDAQ:MGNI)  Seeking Alpha

SK Telecom launches AI-powered advertising platform with U.S. startup Moloco - The Korea JoongAng Daily
SK Telecom launches AI-powered advertising platform with U.S. startup Moloco  The Korea JoongAng Daily

Oracle Quietly Exits the Advertising Business - VideoWeek
Oracle Quietly Exits the Advertising Business  VideoWeek

Oracle Is Shutting Down Its Ad Business - Adweek
Oracle Is Shutting Down Its Ad Business  Adweek

Nike’s star footballer formula is looking weary - More About Advertising
Nike’s star footballer formula is looking weary  More About Advertising

Pinterest unveils new AI advertising tools - Mobile Marketing
Pinterest unveils new AI advertising tools  Mobile Marketing

Timely reminder from the ASA to avoid falling foul of advertising codes during UEFA Euro 2024 - The National Law Review
Timely reminder from the ASA to avoid falling foul of advertising codes during UEFA Euro 2024  The National Law Review

MAGNA Ups Advertising Growth Outlook Following Strong First Half of the Year - Branding in Asia Magazine
MAGNA Ups Advertising Growth Outlook Following Strong First Half of the Year  Branding in Asia Magazine

6 Top Advertising Trends to Watch (2024 & 2025) - Exploding Topics
6 Top Advertising Trends to Watch (2024 & 2025)  Exploding Topics

Oracle Shuts Down Advertising Business After Spending Over $4 Billion - Business Insider
Oracle Shuts Down Advertising Business After Spending Over $4 Billion  Business Insider

Mediasmart and TCL enters into partnership for connected TV Advertising - The Times of India
Mediasmart and TCL enters into partnership for connected TV Advertising  The Times of India

Judge says trial is required to decide government's antitrust case over Google's advertising tech - ABC News
Judge says trial is required to decide government's antitrust case over Google's advertising tech  ABC News

Edward Norton’s Challenging New Role Could Put Him in TV’s Battle for Advertising Dollars - Variety
Edward Norton’s Challenging New Role Could Put Him in TV’s Battle for Advertising Dollars  Variety

Publicis launches Cannes Lions AI ‘bullshit detector’ - More About Advertising
Publicis launches Cannes Lions AI ‘bullshit detector’  More About Advertising

Google Faces Trial in US Antitrust Case Over Digital Advertising - RetailWire
Google Faces Trial in US Antitrust Case Over Digital Advertising  RetailWire

Are London creative agency CEOs now an endangered species? - More About Advertising
Are London creative agency CEOs now an endangered species?  More About Advertising

Advertising Week Europe 2024: Navigating the new media landscape | Amazon Web Services - AWS Blog
Advertising Week Europe 2024: Navigating the new media landscape | Amazon Web Services  AWS Blog

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

Ban these companies from advertising, says UN chief, and other nature and climate stories you need to read this week - World Economic Forum
Ban these companies from advertising, says UN chief, and other nature and climate stories you need to read this week  World Economic Forum

Google launches Google TV advertising network - Search Engine Land
Google launches Google TV advertising network  Search Engine Land

Advertising and Marketing - Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP
Advertising and Marketing  Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP

Church's Launches Its New Global Advertising Campaign. - WWD
Church's Launches Its New Global Advertising Campaign.  WWD

ROKU Launches New Advertising Solution to Aid Platform Revenues - Yahoo Finance
ROKU Launches New Advertising Solution to Aid Platform Revenues  Yahoo Finance

Food Advertising, Labeling, and Litigation Conference - Food and Drug Law Institute
Food Advertising, Labeling, and Litigation Conference  Food and Drug Law Institute

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Fans Want Busch Gardens To Apologize After 'Blatantly False Advertising'  Inside the Magic

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Digital Advertising Market 2024 Comprehensive Research, Market Definition and Business Operation Data Analysis by ...  openPR

X CEO Linda Yaccarino Touts Advertiser Return After Musk Takeover - The New York Times
X CEO Linda Yaccarino Touts Advertiser Return After Musk Takeover  The New York Times

PayPal Announces New Leaders to Build New Advertising Platform and Accelerate Consumer Product Innovation - PayPal Newsroom
PayPal Announces New Leaders to Build New Advertising Platform and Accelerate Consumer Product Innovation  PayPal Newsroom

Laughing Matters: How Cannes' Humor Category Could Change Advertising - Adweek
Laughing Matters: How Cannes' Humor Category Could Change Advertising  Adweek

Japan's space agency helps to target advertising with satellite photos of crops - The Register
Japan's space agency helps to target advertising with satellite photos of crops  The Register

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Can a Senate bill to regulate sports betting ads reach the finish line in this Parliament?  CBC News

Google loses bid to end antitrust case over digital advertising - Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Google loses bid to end antitrust case over digital advertising  Honolulu Star-Advertiser

American Advertising Federation selects new board heads - Martechcube
American Advertising Federation selects new board heads  Martechcube

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Advertisers Are Misinformed About The Ad Industry’s Misinformation Problem  AdExchanger

Oracle Kills Its Advertising Business - WebProNews
Oracle Kills Its Advertising Business  WebProNews

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2024 Guide to X (Twitter) Ads: Specs, Cost, and Tips  Hootsuite

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RDDT Stock: What to Watch as Reddit Nabs New AI Advertising Deal  InvestorPlace

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Creative 100: Honoring the Most Innovative Talent Across Advertising, TV, Visual Art and More  Adweek

Google launches Google TV advertising network - MarTech
Google launches Google TV advertising network  MarTech

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Revolutionizing Mattress Marketing: The Benefits of AI Models for Advertising  SpaceCoastDaily.com

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IPG CEO Philippe Krakowsky on AI in advertising: beware 'reversion to the mean'  The Drum

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Agency 100 2024: Schaefer Advertising  MM+M Online

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Advertisers once again try to crack open the secret sauce of platforms, this time with a savvier touch  Digiday

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Nothing funny about AI as advertisers look to laugh off uncertainty  The Australian Financial Review

Cannes Lions looks to laughter as ad industry feels threat of AI - Financial Times
Cannes Lions looks to laughter as ad industry feels threat of AI  Financial Times

Beacon Financial Group Sells 2681 Shares of Lamar Advertising (NASDAQ:LAMR) - Defense World
Beacon Financial Group Sells 2681 Shares of Lamar Advertising (NASDAQ:LAMR)  Defense World

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You Think You Know How Misinformation Spreads? Welcome to the Hellhole of Programmatic Advertising  WIRED

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Mirriad Advertising (LON:MIRI) Reaches New 12-Month Low at $0.95  Defense World

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Jingle Writers and Singers Feel Impact of AI Song Technology  Billboard

Entravision Sells Its International Digital Advertising Business – RadioInsight - RadioInsight
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Google: advertising revenue 2023  Statista

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Harish Narayanan joins HDFC AMC as CMO and CDO  ETBrandEquity

Uber Advertising Announces Exclusive Partnership with T-Mobile Advertising Solutions — Tech Funding News - Tech Funding News
Uber Advertising Announces Exclusive Partnership with T-Mobile Advertising Solutions — Tech Funding News  Tech Funding News

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Bans on fossil fuel advertising are coming – and sport should not be exempt  The Conversation Indonesia

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Advertising Ban Gives NRL the Chance to Diversify its Revenue Streams  European Gaming Industry News

Roku Exchange Unlocks Access to Roku's Audience and Premium Media | Roku - Roku Newsroom
Roku Exchange Unlocks Access to Roku's Audience and Premium Media | Roku  Roku Newsroom

Climate change: Ban fossil fuel advertising says UN chief - BBC.com
Climate change: Ban fossil fuel advertising says UN chief  BBC.com

Entravision Announces Sale of Its Digital Advertising Representation Business to Aleph Group - StockTitan
Entravision Announces Sale of Its Digital Advertising Representation Business to Aleph Group  StockTitan

TikTok's Jack Bamberger Named Board Chair of American Advertising Federation - SHOOT Online
TikTok's Jack Bamberger Named Board Chair of American Advertising Federation  SHOOT Online

Veterinary Advertising & Sponsorship Opportunities - AAHA - AAHA
Veterinary Advertising & Sponsorship Opportunities - AAHA  AAHA

‘Godfathers of climate chaos’: UN chief urges global fossil-fuel advertising ban - The Guardian
‘Godfathers of climate chaos’: UN chief urges global fossil-fuel advertising ban  The Guardian

IAB/PwC Internet Advertising Revenue Report 2024 - IAB
IAB/PwC Internet Advertising Revenue Report 2024  IAB

Pennsylvania Bill Proposes Restrictions on Gambling Advertisements to Problem Gamblers - Franklin County Free Press
Pennsylvania Bill Proposes Restrictions on Gambling Advertisements to Problem Gamblers  Franklin County Free Press

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CEO of Advertising Company Alma:'We have created quite a large and good advertising culture in Georgia'  The FINANCIAL

Google must face £13bn advertising lawsuit - UK court - BBC.com
Google must face £13bn advertising lawsuit - UK court  BBC.com

Paramount Advertising - Paramount
Paramount Advertising  Paramount

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Medical Report: What is direct-to-consumer medical advertising?  KYW

Tesla's DMV self-driving false advertising case must go to trial, CA judge rules - Electrek.co
Tesla's DMV self-driving false advertising case must go to trial, CA judge rules  Electrek.co

JSW Steel appoints Tarun Jha as head of marketing - ET BrandEquity - ETBrandEquity
JSW Steel appoints Tarun Jha as head of marketing - ET BrandEquity  ETBrandEquity

Tech group seeks to woo democratic voters to register before the election - The Washington Post
Tech group seeks to woo democratic voters to register before the election  The Washington Post

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Strong growth for European digital advertising  Moonshot News

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Why digital advertising is eating TV in SA  TechCabal

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