Violet Blue says that if you think “sex sells” then you’re not paying attention.
VB (Violet Blue): Does sex really sell?
SH (Steve Hall): According to some studies, the “sex sells” adage in misleading if not wrong. Several studies have found ads laced with sexual imagery of women targeted to women actually turn women off to the product. And it’s not a new conclusion about sex and advertising, either.
Initially sexual imagery can “sell” — when it comes to attracting attention to an ad. After all, humans are innately programmed to respond to titillating imagery and the possibility of sex. It’s just in our DNA. So it’s natural for marketers to use this attraction and for people to respond. But, it can be a lame cop-out used by marketers who lack imagination to create more compelling work that will sustain itself beyond the initial titillation. Despite studies minimizing its benefits, sex will continue to be used in advertising because it’s a quick and easy solution which doesn’t require much thought and can garner the immediate attention some marketers need for their promotional efforts.
. . .
VB: Should there be more sex in advertising?
SH: Yes and no. Yes, in the sense that sex is normal. It should not be taboo. It should be a normal part of everyone’s life and so therefore should be represented as such in advertising. No, because it’s just too easy and makes for too much bad advertising. And the sexual content in a sexually-laced ad can overshadow the product being promoted and therefore make it even more difficult to remember what the ad was actually promoting.