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October 25, 2005

Sex Sells

Egads … looks like more sexually suggestive print advertising is in order. A recent survey conducted by MediaAnalyzer (pdf) reveals purchase intent increases when using sexual imagery in advertising targeted at men. However, brand recall suffers because men are too busy ogling the hotties and not the logos.

Take a look at this Adweek article (pdf) analyzing the survey results. It shows the viewing patterns of how the men and women survey respondents look at sexual and non-sexual advertising. It’s a revealing look at how differently men and women view print ads.


SOURCE: Adweek | Does Sex Really Sell? (pdf) | Oct. 17, 2005]


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» Luring Customers With Sex from Business Ethics & Social Enterprise
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Thanks for this post. I've pointed to it in today's "Much Ado About Marketing" blog.

Keep up the great work.

Thanks again,

Mike Bawden
Brand Central Station

Here's something I came across back in August that kind of sheds some light on this (and yes, being a good little boy, I blogged it):

Erotic and violent images may actually cloud viewers' ability to focus on the actual object of the ad.

"We observed that people fail to detect visual images that appeared one-fifth of a second after emotional images, whereas they can detect those images with little problem after viewing neutral images," says Vanderbilt University psychologist David Zald.

The effect is known as attentional rubbernecking.

"We think that there is essentially a bottleneck for information processing and if a certain type of stimulus captures attention, it can basically jam up that bottleneck so subsequent information can't get through," says Zald.

In other words, although a provocative or visually loud ad is likely to grab your attention, it also hinders your ability to focus on the brand or product it promotes.

Sex might sell, but the question is: what?

Hmmm - I'm curious - there's a new TV ad for Bluefly - an online clothing site. The ad features a woman walking naked into her own dinner party. It's shot from the back - but so revealing Oxygen and Lifetime refused to even air the ad.

I blogged about it and almost all the women who responeded HATED the ad. Did the creaters hope to create "buzz" with the nudity? Did they try to use sex to sell to women? Were the creaters men who were createing ads THEY would like to view? I don't know the answers - but it's an interesting debate.


Sexual poses and actions are reserved for married couples who are engaged in procreation.

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