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Who Likes Sex in Advertising?
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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It seems that nowadays advertisements need to come with ratings like movies. The amount of cleavage, bare chests, and tight clothing we now see in ads is ridiculous. Yet marketers chalk it up to the small phrase we have all heard in our lives one time or another.

Sex sells.

But does it really sell? Because we are intimate beings, will we always prefer a sexy ad over a non-sexy ad? We disagree, and according to gender lines, there is a stark difference between those who like sex in advertising and those who do not.

Can you guess?

According to the researchers, men prefer sex in advertising — at least, sexy imagery — over women. But what is interesting in the research is how they framed the question. They separated the sexy ads into two categories: cheap products and expensive products.

The result?

It turns out that men had similar responses regardless of the price of the product. The research would then suggest that the price of the product when men viewed a sexy ad was inelastic. One would then hope that men would prefer the product that was advertised with sexual imagery versus the product being advertised without.

The women, on the other hand, had an interesting reaction.

According to the research, which will be published in the next Psychological Science journal, women had a more negative view of a product when it used sexual imagery while it was a cheap product, versus when it was an expensive product.

The researchers suggest that this finding is in line with the usual findings of sexual economics theory — that women would be more open to sexual imagery if it was presented in an expensive, exclusive fashion.

Interesting deduction, but we would think that conclusion would be quite the hard sell in the general community.

Then again, the community doesn't have to be right.

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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