The odds, however, have not really been in favor of sexually-oriented advertising. The stereotypical dumb blonde, the double entendre, themes of bondage, nudity, simulation of the sexual act, and sex jokes make viewers notice the ad and not the product (Taflinger, n.d.). The viewers’ attention is directed towards the sexual information in the ad rather than the brand when sexual stimulus is used in advertising (Reichert, Heckler, & Jackson, 2001).
In the study conducted by Stewart and Furse (2000), it was found that sex appeal in advertising drowns out the real message of the ad, distorting the product’s recall and persuasion. However, sex appeal helps in brand recall if it is used in an appropriate way (Richmond & Timothy, 1982).
Stereotyping women is a tendency in the use of sex appeal in advertising, thereby distorting the social reality of women. Sex appeal, thus, becomes “men’s desperate attempt to make their advertising break through the clutter” (Vranica, 2003).
Sex in ads focus on women when the target audience is men, losing the major female consumer demographic in the process. This narrow point of view adversely affects what could be a wider potential market, and delimits the product’s marketing potential through the miscalculation.
Times, though, have changed and what used to have been the tried and tested formula for the marketing success of sex appeal advertising may have lost it surefire results. The brand Axe has been known to openly use the theme of sex appeal in its ads. The central point is that Axe makes the male alluring to female, even rousing her animal instincts. In an evaluation of the Axe ad, the sex appeal sales pitch did not necessarily translate to huge sales (Petrecca, 2007).
Ads of the World ran an interesting feature on the effectiveness of sex appeal in advertising (DeJesus, 2007). The strategies enumerated were: subliminal techniques, nudity or partial nudity, sexual suggestiveness, overt sexuality, and sensuality. In the research they conducted on the effectiveness of sex appeal in ads, the following came up as results: sex and nudity do increase attention, rated as being more interesting, often leads to strong feelings about the advertisement, brand recall is lower, and often interferes with message comprehension.
According to the group, the following are ways to use sex appeal effectively: be aware of differences in the international arena, should be an integral part of the product, should utilize a variety of models in terms of age, size, ethnicity and gender, should consider using ‘regular person’ models, be careful sex does not overpower advertisement, and consider shifting to more sensuality.