Besides a variety of topics ranging from social issues to food, advertisers have been thriving to use sex in their marketing campaigns. So, let’s talk whether sex does really sell or it is just a myth.


Sex Sells: where has it all begun?

Using sex in advertisement is not a new practice. It all started back in 1885 or even earlier when W. Duke and Sons that were specializing in manufacturing of facial soap created trading cards with erotic pictures for the soap’s packaging. Featuring those day’s female models on the cards, the company significantly improved their business. From that moment, many others business industries have started using sex in order to advertise their product and target more customers.

Integration of sex in advertising is believed to be one of the most effective ways to attract customers besides application of humor, mentions of food, or reference to social problems.

According to same researches, between 1983 and 2003, the percentage of ads featuring sex increased from 15% to 27%.

Tom Reichert, a professor of advertising and public relation at the University of Georgia, states that advertisers use sex in their ads because it can very effective. His belief is supported by the research that he and his colleagues have done in the past. Analyzing 3,232 ads from 6 big magazines such as Esquire, Cosmopolitan, Redbook, Playboy, Times, and Newsweek between 1983 and 2003, they have witnessed some interesting patterns. Health and hygiene products contained the greatest number of sexual images, and to be more exact 38% of all sexual ads were exactly health and hygiene products. Then, the beauty products took the second place creating 36% of all sexual advertisements. The third place was taken by drugs and medications (or 29%). The companies using sex to sell really boosted their business and get to appeal to many people.

Alrighty, we can see now that sex has been a hot topic for marketers and advertisers, but there is always another side of a coin that is not that shiny. But we don’t we look at the two sides simultaneously and check some great and lame examples of sex that sells or does not sell the products.


When does sex really sell?

Not every product can be linked to sex, and only thoroughly created campaigns that really connect with such topic can boost your business. Let’s look at several marketing and advertising sex campaigns that really nailed it.

  • Dolce & Gabbana

Does Sex Really Sell Or Not: Dolce & Gabbana

Dolce&Gabbana started using sexual scenes in their advertising since 2007.  Even if it is still a big hit strategy for them that drives sales and makes everyone happy, at the beginning some of their ads were not that positive for the audience.


  • Wonderbra

Does Sex Really Sell Or Not: Wonderbra

Wonderbra that specialized in push-up bras is one the most erotic brands in advertising. They always come up with some witty signs that really attract people’s attention.


  • Volkswagen

Does Sex Really Sell Or Not: Volkswagen

Cars have been associated with sex to get better sales over many years. Car companies want their products be perceived as fast, daring, and sexy. And what can be better to display it besides erotic messages implemented into the ads?


When does sex fail to sell?

Even if sex is a big topic for advertising campaigns, there are main lame examples of brands that only ridiculed themselves by trying to connect their product to some erotic images. Let’s look at some of the worst examples of sex campaigns.

  • Passage Fitness First

Does Sex Really Sell Or Not: Passage Fitness

Well, you can “improve your sex life” after starting working out. But who would want to use the sports equipment after this fellow?


  • Editora Record

Does Sex Really Sell Or Not: Editora Record

Brazilian publishing company created a slogan for this campaign that says “Reading Excited Imagination.” Well, this would be a good question to ask what exactly excites the man on the ad when he can’t even see the book…

  • Renuzit Fresh Accents

Does Sex Really Sell Or Not: Renuzit

What’s the link between the man and the product? Oh, right, there is no link at all. This is another example of the company that is just trying to catch up with the inapplicable trends.

So, as we can see some brands really-really failed to correctly implement corresponding images to their ad and marketing campaigns. Another problem with sex in ads is that it quite frequently targets only males and really discriminates women’s images in society. But, oh well, most brands prefer to stay aloof from social interpretation of females while going crazy to make bunch of money.

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