STATES CHRONICLE – You have always heard that sex sells, but is it actually true? A new study published in the International Journal of Advertising questions this theory, and proves that promoting ads with sexualized content doesn’t determine many people to buy the product.
John Wirtz, the author of the study and assistant professor of advertising at University of Illinois, comments on the myth that sex sells. Many people working in the advertising industry choose to design ads containing more sexual appeals, as they think this is what makes the product more popular. In fact, it seems that they are wrong.
Sexual content in ads does not convince people to buy products
Wirtz explains that this sex-related content indeed helps people remember ads. However, this does not apply to the products promoted in the ad, and does not increase its popularity among consumers. Therefore, these ads fail to accomplish their mission.
To determine how sexual content influences a person to buy a brand, researchers analyzed 78 studies developed over the last thirty years. They discovered that people are unlikely to choose a product only because it had a sexy ad. In fact, it might actually have the opposite effect. People might form a negative opinion on the product in question.
Therefore, Wirtz concludes that such content in an ad does not have a positive effect on consumers. In other words, sex doesn’t sell.
“We found literally zero effect on participants’ intention to buy products in ads with a sexual appeal.”
What does make an ad sexual?
The ads included in the study featured partially or fully nude models, or actors which moved and acted sexually. Also, they are full of innuendoes or sexual embeds (sexual messages hidden in words or pictures).
Men were more likely to enjoy watching such ads, while women clearly disliked them. Even so, neither of them were convinced to choose the products. Therefore, adding sex to ads doesn’t help with the selling of products, so maybe advertisers will opt for other strategies in promoting their products.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons