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Sex sells – imagery in ads

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Friday December 10, 2010 )

A recent survey shows that many people say they are becoming concerned by the amount of sexual imagery in advertising, but I think some of the respondents (and you can guess who), may be telling porky pies.

A recent AdweekMedia/Harris Poll found many people now feel ads overdo it, with a majority of respondents expressing they are at least “somewhat bothered” by the amount of sexual imagery in advertising and women were more than twice as likely as men to say they’re “very bothered” by it.

Perhaps the “being bothered” might be at a conscious level, but at the subconscious level it may be a different story.

I remember some years back a web hosting company started using sexual imagery to sell hosting. I thought they were absolutely nuts. Web hosting is a serious business, people wouldn’t be attracted to a hosting company just because of a few bouncing bikini wearing blondes.

Well, it turned out the company wasn’t nuts and yes, those girls brought them a bunch of customers. Today they are one of the largest web hosting companies in the world.

The approach wasn’t a one-hit-wonder either. In Australia, a domain name company decided to follow suit relatively recently. Same deal – their sales went through the roof. I know for certain their traffic went nuts after the campaign began as I was monitoring it using various tools, just to see what would happen.

One thing I’m not clear on is how many of those new clients they gained are women.

I wonder if a hosting or domain registration company has tried it from another angle; using Chippendale dancer-type guys to hawk their wares to women.

Nah, surely women are much smarter than we mere males.

Or are they?

We like to consider ourselves highly evolved and in control, but marketing still seems to work very when it appeals to the same basic instincts of our cave-dwelling ancestors.


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