Ad-aholics Anonymous :)

Say what you REALLY feel about the latest ad you just saw..

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Sex and Advertising... Does Sex REALLY Sell?

Its no surprise that sex is everywhere. From your television screen, to a racy magazine cover in the supermarket, you are surrounded by sex everywhere. Why? In today's society advertisers have learned that one of the most popular and effective ways to sell a product is to use sex in their advertising strategies. They are attention getters for both men and women and sex is also one of the strongest psychological appeals. Ads that range from shoes, to shampoo, to cologne all use the same tactics by including half- nude models, beautiful people and the desire for the consumer to need that product.
Calvin Klein is one of the most popular companies who uses sex to sell its product. Calvin Klein has also been one of the most successful advertisers to use sexual imagery to build a brand image. The ad above is for men's cologne. So we ask, is it really necessary for a completely nude model to be the layout of the advertising? No, of course not. The ad does not even show the bottle of cologne it is trying to sell! The name appears on the top however, along with the Calvin Klein name on the bottom. Women in general might not be too happy with this ad, but what does a man see in it? Does he think that if he buys the cologne he will be able to get with women- or naked women for that matter? Ads can be very tricky to decipher sometimes, but one thing is for sure- sex sells.
I think America is a culture that idealizes dangerous and exploitative behaviors through advertising campaigns. By have a daring, and racy ad people will be more prone to talk about these ads, especially if they create a stir.
How about the ever debatable Paris Hilton advertisement that ran on TV for Carl's Jr's. Burgers. According to the research director for the Parents Television Council, " This commercial is basically soft-core porn. It's inappropriate for television." We have to also be reminded that there are young children out there that see these advertisements as well- not only adults. Do you think commercials have gone too far selling sex?

I want you all to think of an ad where you remember it being racy and sexy. Did it influence you in any way to want to buy the product? It's no surprise that if you are going to use sex in advertising that there will be issues with certain advocacy groups, lawmakers, or even consumers. Companies use sex because higher arousal affect feeling levels. If a consumer feels good about that product they may be more inclined to buy it.

Have there been any ads where you think advertisers went too far or were pushing the envelope? Or do you think it is necessary for advertisers to use sex in order to sell a product or service? Let me hear about them...


  • At Fri Oct 14, 10:23:00 AM, Blogger kendro said…

    Sex. yeah, you can't hide from that in society, yet schools want to pretend its not there. Go figure. Although i believe that sex does sell, sometimes it is taken to far to where the product is practically not even mentioned. One reason i think Calvin Klein does that for their cologne is because cologne is hard to grasp. I mean, you can't smell the cologne in a tv ad or on a billboard, so it has to grab your attention some other way to make you "need" it.

    Overall i think when i look at an ad i only notice the sexual side of it if it's way over the top. Then it kinda gives me more of a negative attitude towards the brand. But if its sexy in an appropriate way, even if its racy or edgy... i don't really get bothered by it. I think the extreme ones when it has literally nothing to do with a product... example: a burger... when i eat a burger, i do not feel sexy, do not want to feel sexy, and just want to eat the thing as fast as i can because its good and tasty. To me a burger should NOT be sexy ha. But thats just my view.

  • At Sun Oct 16, 05:33:00 PM, Blogger nicole said…

    I agree with you Ms. Joann, sex does sell. The psychological aspects are a huge aspect of why sex sells. For whatever reason, many people are not happy about how they look or feel, and try to change it, or feel sexier/more desirable by purchasing certain products. Calvin Klein is relying on their popular name brand, and the fact that men find Kate Moss attractive in order to sell their prodcuts. But then again, I can see where it may be difficult to advertise for colonge any other way, because it is not like a consumer can smell the product through the television or magazine ad. Advertisers rely on the fact that men will see this beautiful girl and by wearing a certain scent, they would be able to hook up with her, or if not her, than at least a girl. Or that girls are attracted to guys who wear that scent, and will come to them.
    You know what I find funny, that Paris Hilton is advertising this hamburger chain. I don't think she has ever eaten a hamburger in her life! However, commercials that do get talked about probably raise the demand for the product. Axe body spray is known for having racy advertisements, but their products sell very well. I would not buy the product because it is for males, but I will not lie that I enjoy the smell of it! If I saw a guy buy Axe body spray or know someone that uses it, I would think that they are probably preppy, and like to take care of themselves, which are good qualities to have! So I would suppose the racy commercials worked for me at least, because I would like a guy who wore Axe body spray.
    Sexy advertisements really dont persuade or dissuade me to buy a product, I usually know what I like to eat or wear, and stick with that.

  • At Tue Oct 18, 08:02:00 PM, Blogger k_ricker06 said…

    That woman looks as pale as casper and has totally convinced me to NOT buy Obsession cologne. I am not terribly concerned with young people seeing these ads because we were exposed to them when we were younger too, but I think we all turned out alright. I believe sex does sell to an extent because of the mindset it gives some people (i.e. wearing Obsession cologne will get me naked women). Whether people actually admit it or not, sex is on our minds at least from time to time and it gives you a kind of self-esteem boost when you buy products like that.
    As for the burger ad, that seems a little rediculous. I am sure there is someone out there that is into soft-core porn ads and went out and ate at that burger joint. Sex has become common nature in advertising here in the states and is not leaving anytime soon.

  • At Thu Oct 20, 07:40:00 PM, Blogger popovich said…

    Sex definitely sells! People want to feel good about themselves and Americans especially are willing to pay large amounts of money to feel beautiful and sexy. Regardless of whether or not an ad displays the product, people are drawn to the ads by the beautiful people on them. I don't think that's it is inappropriate to use attractive people to sell products that are difficult to display otherwise. However, I do think that it is a bit over the top to use sex to sell every day products like hamburgers.

    I agree with Kendro, racy and edgy is ok, but exposing children to sexy ads is not appropriate. I think there should be limitations as to what can have sex in the ads and what can't. Products such as burgers, toys, and games aren't sexy and therefore shouldn't use sex to sell them. But products such as jewelry, perfume/cologne, and clothing are things that advertisers want people to see as sexy and therefore it is reasonable to use sex to sell them. I'm not sure how limits could be implemented, but I think that this would be the best case scenario for both categories of advertising.

  • At Fri Oct 21, 02:01:00 PM, Blogger Jenna B. said…

    Sex definitely sells because if it did not, advertisers would not use it so prevalently. However, using sex to sell is not always a good thing. For instance, the ad with Paris Hilton for the burger place looks like it should belong in an adult male magazine. Even though the ad does have a burger in it, would someone eating a burger really wear an outfit like that? One reason why this might appeal to adult males is that it is surprising to see someone wearing that while eating a burger and that the model is attractive. However, since females and parents may consider the ad too revealing and too sexy, the ad can actually turn people off to their product. An ad like this is inappropriate for children and some groups think they are too racy and pushing the limits on advertising with sex. Some companies have gone too far with sex in their ads and it is not as if advertisers need sex to sell their products. There are plenty of other ways to sell products all they have to do is explore their options.

  • At Fri Oct 21, 07:05:00 PM, Blogger Kristin said…

    Sex sells… lets face it., however sometimes when I look at some ads they are so boring to look at because it is always the same thing. Especially beer ads. It is always some sexy girl holding a beer. I mean I guess it works, or maybe I am a girl and maybe I want to see a sexy guy holding a beer instead of a sexy girl…. Who knows? All I know is the sometimes the sexy ads bore me. Is that bad? I think it is pretty funny that sex is starting to bore some people.

  • At Tue Oct 25, 07:42:00 PM, Blogger Eric Corson said…

    You are absolutely correct. We are surrounded by sex, and ultimately, sex sells. I think you hit it right on the nose when you said, not only do advertisers use sex to sell their products; but most importantly they are using sex to gain our attention and keep our focus on their product or brand name. And if I'm not mistaken, it seems to have been working for quite some time now. As far as the Calvin Klein cologne ad, personally I'd say yes, they do a good job of having their name and the product name visible; however the half-nude model really has no affect on whether or not I would purchase their product. In regards to the Paris Hilton hamburger commercial, I honestly find it quite amusing. I think I actually only saw the advertisement once, but if my memory serves me correctly; I was laughing out loud. What does Paris Hilton in a skimpy bathing suit, washing a car and eating a hamburger have to do with Carl's Jr. Burgers? It's also unrealistic. Paris Hilton obviously does not eat too many hamburgers, so why put her in the ad besides for the fact that she is a sex symbol? Anyway, as we all know, sex sells and it plays a major role in today's advertising, however, there is a time and a place for it, and I don't think hamburger commercials are it.

  • At Sun Oct 30, 08:50:00 PM, Blogger Mike LaShomb said…

    Sex is everywhere these days in advertising. It must be working well for companies since they keep pushing the envelope. I personally don’t have a problem with companies using sex to sell products. However I can see why parents may not want their kids to be exposed to some of the commercials out there. The company that came to mind when you asked us to think of a company that uses sex to sell was Axe Body Spray. There ads always seem to stick in my head for some reason. However I have never bought the product so I can’t say the ads have enticed me to purchase there product.

  • At Wed Nov 16, 01:54:00 PM, Blogger Patrick said…

    See I disagree. Sex does sell but not products. Sex sells images and perceptions. A perfect example that is the Calvin Kline ad that you talked about the product isn’t even in the ad. I think that sometimes the advertisers do go over the top but that can have negative consequences for everyone involved. Not only does it drop standards and degrades people women especially but I can also have the effect of the people remembering the sexy model or the racy commercials but not remember the product of even what the ad was for. This in turn alone drives down standards and wastes money.

  • At Sat Nov 19, 01:50:00 PM, Blogger ckrause said…

    SEX SELLS. It is so true. I think the the Calvin Klein ad is the perfect example. It is funny because I can think of 2 or 3 other CK ads off of the top of my head that are so similar to the one that you have on your post. A half naked man or women, usually they are done in black and white, and the shadows in the picture are covering just the right places so it isn't a porn. I personally don't know how effective they are in getting people to buy the product however. If I don't like the smell of a cologne, I am not going to buy it just because there is a hot chick in the ad!

    That Paris Hilton ad was absolutely rediculous. One reason is was not a good ad is definately that it took the "sex sells" idea too far. Second, Paris Hilton does not eat big gross cheeseburgers. I am not surprised that they had to pull that ad from TV because it was negatively affecting the company.

    I think using the sex to sell a product is ok as long as the product is for adults. As for the ads being able to be viewed by children, that is completely wrong and I would not purchase a product using such ads.

  • At Sat Nov 19, 10:14:00 PM, Blogger M. Fox said…

    Hey Jo,
    I definitely think sex sells. Whether you are a man or a woman, when you are looking through a magazine or watching tv, the one thing that catches your eye is a sexy half naked male or female. The Calvin Klein ads were a perfect example. Their ads are always of barely clothed women on the beach, or a man and a woman in a passionate embrace. They use sex to appeal to the average man or woman so that they can sell their product. I don't know whether this is right or wrong, but I do know that it works.

    In reference to tv commercials, I think sometimes they are taken a bit too far. Especially because little kids often see these commercials. Like during the super bowl when Nicolette Sheridan did a commercial in a towel. Plenty of young children saw that, and although I don't think it was a terrible thing to see, for parents out there, I'm sure they would have a different opinion.

    Great job with your blog so far. Its very informative and really hits some hot topics.

  • At Sat Nov 19, 10:19:00 PM, Blogger M. Fox said…

    Jo, after thinking about your blog on sex and advertising some more, I remembered a paper I did in BUAD471. The paper was my view about a Hugo cologne advertisment and whether I thought it would be more effective on men then a Gucci cologne ad that it was compared to.
    In my paper I went into how sometimes sex and advertising can be a bad thing. I felt that neither ad was good but that the Gucci ad was particularly bad because it used a man's sex appeal to sell a man's product. The man's sex appeal was basically the only aspect of the ad and I did not feel that it would make other men feel a desire to go out and buy the product. Men do not want to see other men naked, atleast I don't! If I were reading a man's magazine and came across an advertisement like this I wouldn't even stop to look at it.

  • At Wed Nov 23, 02:03:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan Dowens said…

    I have to say, Axe is truly the new cologne for men, and technically, it's not even a cologne. Whenever I don't shower, I know that I can feel decently fresh just by taking a "Mexican shower" with Axe body spray. The ad's for Axe typically show women flocking to anything related to the brand name. From the smell, to the metal bottle it comes in, sex appeal is a big characteristic of the marketing efforts of Axe.

    Personally, I feel like the whole "sex sells" issue is entirely true to the extent that people will be more inclined to buy a product if the ad turns them on. I feel that the "sex sells" tactic is also false to the message it sends out. For some reason, people (including myself) feel that by purchasing a product, one will essentially heighten their appeal to others.


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