The creator of Dilbert, Scott Adams, I think summed up the sex- sells principle best:
Males are predictable creatures. That makes it easy to craft a marketing message that appeals to them. All successful advertising campaigns that target men include one of these two messages:
1. This product will help you get dates with bikini models.Of course, the ultimate ad man, Don Draper, would disagree. When Peggy uttered the words "sex sells", Draper jumped down her throat.... but then, he was always jumping down her throat, so never mind.
2. This product will save you time and money, which you need if you want to date bikini models.
The "sex sells" technique may be the most used, but it's also the most mocked. It's such an obvious attempt to appeal to our baser side instead of being honest with the audience. My all time favorite quote on the subject is from the late great Bill Hicks:
"Here's the woman's body. Beautiful. Camera pulls back. Naked breasts. Camera pulls back. She's totally naked, legs apart, two fingers right here...and it just says, 'Drink Coke.' Now I don't know the connection here, but Coke is on my shopping list this week."
|Cracked magazine 1978|
I picture the marketing meeting for the next ad going something like this....
Nunn Bush Exec: I'd like you to advertise our product demonstrating how our shoes will make men irresistible to women. What do you have in mind?
Madison Avenue Exec: How about we have a one-armed butt naked female making sweet love to a boot?
Nunn Bush Exec: Sounds good. Let's get hammered.
When I first read the "Joe Walsh" name, I did a double take. Surely, this is not THE Joe Walsh.... the Clown Prince of Rock, famous for his legendary partying skills. I don't know if I'd want to go on that kind of Joe Walsh tour - I might never make it back!
Lest you think the "sex sells" approach is strictly an American thing, get a load of this advert. Perhaps one of the finest examples in print. Young men and women aspiring for a career in advertising should take note - this is a textbook example of how it is to be done.
|Cracked August 1977|
I love it when the "sex sells" approach is used on a product that you wouldn't think it applied. For instance, the approach makes sense for men's clothing and cologne.... but for bed sheets?
Of course, the reason you get such a wide array of "sex sells" back in the sixties and seventies is because, back then, the family pocketbook was almost exclusively the man's domain. In other words, no matter what the product was, Madison Avenue had to make it appeal to the completely predictable tastes of the male species.
Nowadays, you have females controlling the bank accounts every bit as much as the men. In a way, this makes for much more honest advertising - wherein the product is actually described, versus simply putting a pretty lady in the picture and calling it a day.
Of course, even in the 1980s, the ones buying camera equipment were the same predictable males as the sixties and seventies. .
Showing some skin, or just featuring a pretty lady is one thing.... highlighting the sexual act itself is altogether another. You can almost smell the 'after sex' in this advert...
When your product's name is SPONG, you almost have no choice but to go with sex
I don't understand a single word of this, and have no idea what she's selling.... but I'm buying. Just tell me how much, and it's a deal. Nothing sells a product better than gams.
But if you ever doubt the power of sex appeal to sell a product, look no further than this next advertisement. If you can use it to sell athlete's foot products, it truly is the universal marketing tool.
... and here's a couple more thrown in for good measure. Until next time!