Does Sex In Advertising Sell?

For the life of me, I can’t remember how I stumbled upon this link post by CreativeBits – Does Sex In Advertising Sells[sic]? The post features a great (I use that term loosely) collection of sample ads that clearly shows that there are many brands and agencies that believe sex truly sells. However, each ad and campaign does raise the question – Does Sex in Advertising (or Marketing or Branding or PR…) help in any tangible way?

This led me to Martin Lindstrom’s Buy.ology, which used neuroscience to determine how our brains react to marketing stimuli. One of the chapters sought to answer this very same question on whether sex sells. The answer? Not really. According to Lindstrom’s findings, 1) Sex is a powerful attention-grabber but 2) it focuses all that attention to itself, not your brand (or message).

To me, I think this series of ads (from CreativeBits’ collection) actually helped answer the question and reinforce the findings from Buy.ology.  The headlines in the following ads mention several other items you might have missed out after initially looking at the ad visual. Just imagine, instead, that the headline read, “Bet you didn’t notice the logo/brand/message”.

(… uh, so where were we? Oh yeah, let’s not get distracted here now!)

Personally, I think sex is seldom used successfully as a good brand-builder or marketing/advertising vehicle. I think it takes a really great execution for it to really make sense for the brand (I’ve got to say that, in the examples I’ve chosen, it might actually work! Can’t say the same for the rest in CreativeBits’ collection!) – but beyond that, it is merely weak and lazy execution on the part of both the client and the agency.

Anybody out there have a response or comment to share about this? Would love to see what you think too!


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