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Sex Sells--But I'm Not Buying

By Alf Gordon(13,356)

Posted Wednesday, April 16, 2008
View All Blog Posts submitted by Alf Gordon

(Warning:  If you're offended by frank biological terminology, reading this blog entry would be a VERY bad idea.)

They're everywhere, and you're blind if you miss them.  On television, on billboards, in magazines, in newspapers.  Scantily-clad busty females and muscular half-dressed males are used to promote the sale of just about anything imaginable.  And why?  Because sex sells.

I hope it's because I'm less gullible than I used to be, but I don't fall for that garbage anymore.  Seeing a partially-exposed set of boobs doesn't raise my hormone level to the point where it overrides my common sense and makes me reach for my credit card.  In fact, I find it rather offensive that marketing agencies think I'm so driven by my sex drive that my brain doesn't figure into the equation at all.  Ironically, I find myself looking at these advertisements in a whole new light and wondering about the integrity of the vendor as well as the advertising firm.

When I see a commercial showing two middle-aged men in business suits trying to sell men's clothing while cavorting with much younger women in tight-fitting and flesh-revealing garb, I don't think about the quality of the clothing or the prices.  I DO wonder if those girls are all over 18, and what these two lecherous old men are doing oogling women that could be their daughters...or granddaughters (yuck--creepy!).  And I have to be concerned that these "gentlemen" are more interested with the physical attributes of their female friends than they are in the quality of the clothes they hawk.

When I see a billboard advertising auto rims while prominently displaying two bikini-clad females, I wonder what the connection is between breasts and rims.  Maybe it's shape (they're both round--or we're told they're supposed to be).  I hope it's not density.  If both items are either very soft or very hard, then either the rims or the girls are faulty!  (At least you can take the rims back for a refund.)

And let's not assume that only men are under attack.  Young men with no shirts and tight-fitting jeans are increasingly appearing in ads, hoping to appeal to the female of the species.  Abercrombie & Fitch has come under attack recently for the revealing photos in their catalog.  And certain fashion magazines have no problem displaying nearly-naked males and females to sell anything from perfumes to clothing to feminine hygiene products.  Even last season's "The Celebrity Apprentice" had an episode where one team used male models in next to nothing to sell Vera Wang's mattresses.  (Obviously women buy the bedding.)

You can't tell me that eliminating sex from ads reduces sales.  Some of the most memorable ads are the ones that never let sex figure into the equation.  Phrases like "Where's the beef?" and "Can you hear me now?" have nothing to do with sex and everything to do with the product.  And watch the ads that run this summer during the Olympic Games.  If the past is any indication, they'll tug at your heart strings and get you to open up your wallet in a way that near-nudity can't.  (Do ANY of the charitable fund-raising ads you've seen use naked people to raise money?  I don't think so!)

In any case, if a vendor feels the only way he can generate interest in his product is to use a nearly-naked human being to rev up my hormones, I won't give his spokesperson a second look, much less his product.  I'm not 17 anymore, folks, and just because I'm a male it doesn't mean I don't know how to think with the right head...!

This Blog Post has been read 818 times.
Posted to ProBlogs.com on Wednesday, April 16, 2008
View other posts by Alf Gordon

Comments on this blog post:

Anonymous: (46 days 20 hours ago.)
Great article, Alf!

Ian Trumbull from Portland Maine: (46 days 20 hours ago.)
The key here is WHO those ads are targeting. Most ads go after younger consumers who conventional wisdom (and past results) says DO buy things based on sex appeal. Sure, some people may get offended, but if these ads truly didn't work, they'd be gone by now. as you say, You're not 17, yet that is often the age bracket advertisers want looking at their ads. I guess they figure older people are already too set in their buying habits...

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