Does sex really sell?

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For some time now I have been thinking about the age old saying, “Sex Sells!” and have been wondering how true this was across all industries. There have been multiple studies that prove that as a human race we tend to favour people that are beautiful and sometimes make an association between beauty and success. Sexy looking people are really good to look at, that I can’t deny, but do we take the products they sell seriously? Or am I one of the few that shop by quality rather than sexy advertising?

Having a sexy product vs. having a sexy campaign

Some brands go through the processes of advertising their product by means of using a half naked bombshell to get attention. Do they get attention? You bet they do! Most men, me included, find our eyes clued to the medium, admiring such beauty. But do we really take not of the product? Perhaps we do, perhaps we don’t. Let’s say that for the next product lifecycle from this brand they used a different angle to advertise their product that had no “sex” to sell it. Would it be that appealing or that noticeable? Would we remember the sexy adverts from the past or would it just fade into the vast expanse of choice we have as consumers?

I believe that having a sexy product is a much more effective way of achieving long term brand development and sustained sales. Let us have a look at a brand leader as an example. Apple Inc. have always had sexy products. Even at the very beginning, their Macintosh computers were way more sexy that the PCs of the day. Years and years have gone by and nothing has changed, except for the fact that they are dominating the market. Sure it is not only the fact that their products look good that makes them successful, there are other factors like: innovation; ingenuity; user friendliness; simplicity; minimalism and good governance to name a few. Apple products are by far sexier than other products – Apple products sell themselves. They don’t need half naked bombshells or seductive advertising – they just need to show their products and there is already a wow factor.

Should I use the “Sex Sells” approach for my products or services?

That is a really good question. I guess the answer to that would be: what type of impression are you trying to create? How do you want your product and / or business to be perceived in the short term and in the long term? It also depends what your products are. If you are selling adult toys or lingerie, then by all means – sexy campaigns make the most sense. I think there is a good opportunity with these types of products to use a more clever mind game approach to their campaigns as opposed to a sleazy one.

Love or hate it – means we have made an impact. Ignore it and it means we have failed.
If you are selling computers or cell phones I don’t really see the sense in adding sex to your campaigns. Most of the computer shops I have seen that have advertising using a pretty model holding some pc or graphics card look very cheap and quite frankly off-putting. If your product is good enough I think with a bit of clever marketing it could very well sell itself.

That being said, as always there are exceptions to the rule. As creative people we like to break rules, go beyond boundaries and get a reaction. We would much rather people hate our campaign that take no notice if it. Love or hate it – means we have made an impact. Ignore it and it means we have failed.

Am I against using sex in advertising? Certainly not. I have seen so many great adverts that are clever, enticing and super creative. These ads impressed me in a huge way. It probably took agencies many hours to perfect the message for the medium. They certainly made an impact. Do I remember what they were selling? Not really – but they were certainly nice to look at. My opinion is that sex in advertising certainly has a huge impact, but I don’t believe that it has the sustainability to grow a brand into a multi-billion dollar one.

What are your thoughts?

 

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