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Using sex to sell products - are we taking things too far?

Turn on the TV and a new perfume or cologne is being advertised using a steamy sex scene or innuendo. Car shows are notorious for using bikini clad women to lure car enthusiasts, with a focus on the male psyche. Each year there is a collection of new calendars, toting a “pin-up” for each month. This is one area where males and females are on an even playing field, so to speak, with calendars catering to each sex.

Using sex to sell products is not limited to the adult crowd. More and more kids are being lured in by the same marketing techniques. TV shows, music and clothes are advertised with scantly clad young stars hoping to cash in on an ever growing market.

I look back at commercials in the early years of television, where they were simple and the product was in the foreground. Today the culture and idea of advertising has changed and tends to focus more on psychology and how the person will react to the ad. Will they believe the product will make them look or feel sexier and better about themselves? Shops like “Victoria Secret”, for instance draws women in by showing them how much better they can look and feel with a certain bra or underwear. Fruit of the Loom and Jockey follow a similar path but have the ability to focus on both sexes, young and old alike.

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A picture of a woman sitting on a chair, with a focus on her legs can draw in the guys.
While there are many products can make the easy association to sex, others are more difficult, but with a little imagination it can work. Having a certain persona talk about a product can attract enough attention to have people think of taking a look, at the very least. Seeing scantly clad women or men, for that matter, in a commercial or on a billboard may immediately be seen as catering to a particular sex, however, each of these can attain the attention of both sexes. A picture of a woman sitting on a chair, with a focus on her legs can draw in the guys, at the same time women will see it as an idea of how they wished they looked like that. See a well built guy and the product he has to offer, the guy passing by, may think of joining the gym to become like the muscled, tanned picture on the billboard.

Sex can be businesses best advertising took, but like most things can be taken too far and cause more problems and loss of business. Using an attractive spokesperson can bring the desired response, however, overstepping the somewhat invisible boundaries, can turn perspective customers into customers who will speak out against a product saying it is offensive and insults a persons intelligence.

In the end, does sex really sell, or is it just an easy trick businesses use to lure in customers? Like most things it will come down to who you ask and what you are trying to sell.


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