How much sex is in advertising?
A deliberation of advertising and sex demands the explanation of terminology at the inception. Sexuality, gender, sex and sexism usually lack specificity and clarity in everyday language. Nevertheless, scientific researchers and scholars limit the usage and meaning of such terms so as to be able to understand and discuss the complex issues they encompass. Over time, erotic images have increased in advertisements. Some of the earliest instances of sex and selling are the early advertising cards seen in the 19th-century tobacco companies especially on the packages of cigarettes (Reichert, 2006).
Today, there is great of attraction when it comes to advertising which includes sex. Whenever the ideology of advertising is raised today, sex is usually the appeal which comes out first Fowles (1998). The use of sex in commercial advertisements can be dated back 60 years ago when this beautiful young female lead the first windproof lighter and a new way of advertising later emerged called The Pinup Girl. The beautiful and young girl was advertising everything from laundry soap to lighters. In our era, we can say that sex advertising is a major area of ethical concern but little is known about the norms for its use or the effects. The advertisers using sexual appeals have not only grown widely throughout the USA but also in the other parts of the world. However, advertisers have not clearly understood the line between effective and offensive advertising (Saunders, 2015).
Ann Klein’s company’s adverts are a good example of some of the striking ads carried in the main stream media. This company’s advertisements have attracted more negative letters leading to huge amount of attention. The company’s Vice President has been seen defending the organization saying they is a fine line between doing something new, interesting and different and angering the customers with offensive ads which are likely to destroy their commercial intention. One of the ads by the Ann Klein is where a man kisses a woman and is seen later unbuttoning her shirt leaving an unfinished claim that can be viewed to be sexual. The combination of sex and the unfinished claim are used to attract the viewers’ attention (Schrank, n.d).
According to Fowles’ (1998) 15 basic appeals, advertisements appeal to the need for sex. The main reason there is much sex in many advertisements is the simple reason that people usually like viewing the opposite sex in sexual ways. It is human nature that both women and men have a great affinity for sex. According to the advertisement point of view, if an image of sex is put in someone’s head and that person has the attitude of liking sex, then there is a great chance that the product will make the consumer feel better. This is likely to cause the particular individual to go out and buy the particular product based on the advertisement he or she saw. It is known that advertisers usually have a great tendency to play with peoples’ senses that why they try to appeal projective consumers with the most sexual things in the world one being sex (Sex sells, 2010). This is the good example demonstrated by the Calvin Klein commercial advertisement in product such as underwear.
To the extent that sexual imagery is used in adverts, it is known to work better in men than women since the female figure is offered up to the male reader. The Black Velvet liquor advertisement displays an attractive woman seen wearing a tight outfit which is recumbent under the legend, “Feel the Velvet.” The figure shown does not have a horizontal and, therefore, do not have an appeal to be present like its “Fly me” campaign in the National Airlines. The more the figure in the advert is sexual appearing or showing nudity, the more attraction does the advert have to the eyes appeal. Nudity in advertising has been shown to have effect in reducing brand recall. Some people remember product because they have been made indignant by then by the advertisement which is not the response most advertisers seek but sometimes it do happen (Sex sells, 2010).
Most advertisers argue that unambiguous sex is rare in most of these messages since most of them depend on the observation. According to the analysis by the Mass Advertising on the social forecast, it only about two percent of the ads have been found to pander this kind of sexual motives. It has even been shown that playboys even shy away from sexual appeals and only less than five percent could be concluded to have sex in their minds. According to advertisers, there is no much sex in adverts as it depends on the definition (Reichert, 2015).
In conclusion, advertising of our times heavily relies on sex appeal and sex. There is too much sexual content in the advertisements by almost all organization especially those dealing with beauty products. The most shocking thing is that no person is being taken back by these advertisements. Instead, most people have been observed to look at these advertisements and continue to carry their life without thinking about them. However, they are those who do not just look at it and move on but look at them and want to see more of these sexual adverts as the society seems to become slowly driven by sex amongst other unethical things (Reichert, 2012). Today, it seems that every product today has, at least, one advertisement that is related to sex in one way or another.
Fowles, J. (1998). Advertising’s Fifteen Basic Appeals. Retrieved from http://www.cyberpat.com/shirlsite/education/essay2/jfowles.html
Janus, N. (July 01, 2007). Research On Sex-Roles in the Mass Media: Toward a Critical Approach. Critical Sociology, 7, 3, 19-31.
Reichert, T., & Lambiase, J. (2006). Sex in consumer culture: The erotic content of media and marketing. Mahwah, N.J: L. Erlbaum Associates.
Reichert, T., Childers, C. C., & Reid, L. N. (January 01, 2012). How Sex in Advertising Varies by Product Category: An Analysis of Three Decades of Visual Sexual Imagery in Magazine Advertising. Journal of Current Issues & Research in Advertising, 33, 1,
Saunders, D. (2015). Best ads: Sex in advertising. London: Batsford.
Schrank, J (n.d). The Language of Advertising Claims. Retrieved from http://home.olemiss.edu/~egjbp/comp/ad-claims.html
Sex sells – but with more brands using cheap thrills in ads, how much longer can it endure as a selling point?. (July 25, 2010). Marketing Week, 24-27.