Sex and violence don’t sell products, a study reveals

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  • 6 years ago
  • Posted: September 9, 2015 at 5:24 pm

We have a number of articles about sex, articles that trended for three to four days after they were published. If we wrote similar articles every day for the past several years, we could be one of the most popular sites in the country – just like Ghafla, a blogsite that thrives on sex content.

In one of the articles about sex that I personally authored, I asked you guys and every other human being to stop treating sex as a private affair – an abomination that everyone is supposed to shun, a ghost that should be discussed in silence, or a taboo topic that will cause the gods to strike us dead.

Despite the taboo we find in sex, sex is still the most popular item in our thoughts. For example, a research done by Ohio State University to debunk the myth that men think of sex every seven seconds found out that men actually think of sex more than any other thing but at 19 times a day, followed closely by food of which men think about 14 times a day. Women on the other hand think of sex only 10 times a day which comes second to food that is thought of at 15 times a day.

The fact that sex is that popular in our thoughts has made film makers, song writers, preachers, and writers incorporate sex in their works. Included in the list are advertisers. As much as film makers, song writers, preachers and writers have had their works appreciated by the mere fact that they explore sex as creatively as they possibly can, advertisers haven’t benefited from sex in a similar fashion.

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For example, there is an advert about a hair product that allows a woman’s hair to beautifully standout thereby drawing men’s attention to her. She even causes one of the men to wet his trouser. Sadly, I can’t recall the brand of the product advertised in the ad by use of the sexy woman, and according to a recent meta-analysis by Robert Lull and Brad Bushman published in American Psychology Association, I am not the only one who can’t recall the name of the product.

In the meta-analysis, Robert and Brad agree that sex easily attract our attention and that’s why sex and violent oriented content sell. But the question is, when it comes to ads, “could it be that sexual ads attract attention to the sex itself, but not the product, and that violent programs attract attention to the violence itself, but not the product?”.

To answer the question, Robert and Bushman conducted a quantitative review of existing studies, 53 of them, that involved a total of 8,489 participants. “We examined two possible media contexts for sex and violence: ads that featured sex and/or violence themselves, and sexual and/or violent programs in which ads were embedded”, they explained in Independent. In their exploration, they used three major metrics to base their findings:

  • Brand memory, which is whether participants remember the advertised brand or not
  • Brand attitudes, which note how participants feel about the advertised brand
  • And buying intentions, which indicate how likely participants are to purchase the product.

These were their findings:

  • Brands advertised alongside violent media content were remembered less often, evaluated less favorably and less likely to be purchased than those advertised in nonviolent contexts
  • Brands advertised using sexual themes were evaluated less favorably than brands advertised using nonsexual images
  • As the intensity of sexual ad content increased (from suggestive poses to full frontal nudity), memory, attitudes and buying intentions decreased
  • There were no significant effects of sexual ads or violent ads on memory or buying intentions
  • However, when media content and ad content were congruent (eg, violent ads in violent programs, nonviolent ads in nonviolent programs), memory improved and buying intentions increased.
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The two researchers concluded that although sex and violence draw people’s attention, attention is not drawn to other unrelated concept other than the sex and violence itself. Thus, if anyone has product to advertise, it would be inappropriate to use sex and violence to draw people’s attention to the ad, as people won’t be able to pay attention to the product being advertised, but would rather focus on the sex or the violence portrayed in the ad.

The research and the findings should therefore put a stop to the frequent use of sex to advertise products to us. I think because they used sex to advertise their cooking oil, I am unable to recall the brand of that particular product.

What is your opinion on the topic?
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