Does Sex in Advertising Campaigns is Alive or Dead?

Sex in Advertising and Marketing
Sex in Advertising and Marketing

Sex works in advertising, the use of eroticism by advertising creatives today is highlighted to try to sell products, as well as to try to stand out from the ads of other competitors, who are increasingly creative and shocking. On the other hand, we will justify its use, based on the complex structure of the human brain, and the different motivations, especially those related to sexual desires. These conditions are what lead to using scenes related to eroticism to promote products that have nothing to do with it, combining sex with humorous cues in most cases, to try to better capture attention, presenting a long list of examples about them. On the other hand,

Eroticism, object woman, marketing, human unconscious, social taboos.

Sex in Marketing and Advertising Campaign

Suppose it is nine thirty at night, the news has ended, we are in the minutes of advertising and we see an advertisement in which a girl is waiting on a motorcycle for her partner who has just bought some hot sandwiches. The boy sits behind her and places the sandwiches between the two of them, while the young woman starts to get excited, sighs, bites her lips, squirms, she can’t help it! She turns around and kisses her. her boy while the voice-over comments: “in Bocatta, fatter sausages”. In short, with this first example, we want to introduce the latest fashion for creative advertisers to publicize their products.

Therefore, what is intended with this work is to inquire about the use of eroticism and sex in advertising, not only from the current perspective but also by looking at the history of communication. It has normally been used to publicize and promote beauty and feminine hygiene products, and in certain products aimed at men, but the current trend is to use it in any kind of product, without any apparent justification, since what is It is intended to attract attention at any price and with the most impressive resources.

On the other hand, the perspective of the work will be eminently practical, although we will make small clarifications and theoretical comments on the use of this topic, not only from the point of view of advertising creation, but also will delve into psychological motivations and attracting interest. based on knowledge of the human brain. Among the topics that are usually covered, it is worth highlighting couple relationships, sexual relations, bestiality, sadomasochism, etc., in short, aspects to which companies turn seeking provocation while standing out from the increasingly sharpened competition and more creative in its content. However, do not forget that the ultimate content of these ads is to break existing social taboos in order to attract more customers.

Among other contents of this work, we will also deal with the communication campaigns that the companies that make or manufacture products in the sector must carry out, such as condoms (Durex campaign), lubricants, line 906, underwear, and other products, which for the peculiarities of the same, use the subject in a more subtle and creative way, while the other companies that have nothing to do with the sector, such as tobacco companies, beverage companies, companies that manufacture personal hygiene products they tend to resort to the most popular and provocative topics, neglecting aspects of creativity and even ethical standards of conduct or of susceptibility to the consumer. In short, not only will the issue of advertising be addressed, but also the aspects of public relations.

Evolution of eroticism in advertising

At present, the tendency of most of the advertisements that we can see in the different media is to surrender to the temptation of sex, breaking the social taboos that still remain around it. However, until a few years ago the issue of eroticism in advertising was not very well seen, indeed, according to Clemente Ferrer, in his book Hidden Persuasion he refers to advertising that makes use of this claim as an “accomplice of evil”, ” attempts against the dignity of man or the dignity of man is in danger ”,“ eroticism does not help to sell ”, etc., but with the passage of time subliminal advertising tended to be used as an instrument to try to attract attention through imperceptible stimuli, usually related to sex and death.

Sex before in the advertising industry

Years ago the presence of any form of eroticism in advertising was inadmissible. This was because the culture and values ​​of America’s society until the 1970s were strongly rooted in transcendental values, such as family, religion, etc. Protecting itself in the dignity and intimacy of the human being, man or woman, which should always be safe from its use by advertisers as an object of claim, as a lure that would help the sale of a product through communication. However, many wondered if eroticism helped to sell, because the use of it, according to society and the way of understanding things at that time did not make it an effective advertising, taking advantage of the fact that it would give very little quality to the advertised product, transforming it into something trivial that would not be accepted by the public, producing a synergy between the product that is advertised as something vulgar and of little value and the advertisement. However, it is possible that some were interested in contemplating the erotic images of an advertisement, but what was not so clear is that they would later remember the qualities and characteristics of the advertised product.

At that time it was understood that sex was not useful to sell because it gave the product poor quality, transformed it into something vulgar and was not effective in ordering the public to buy, according to Adam Knowles, as a consequence of the fact that it was possible that we stopped to look a photograph of a beautiful woman kissing a watch but he wondered if we would consider the brand. There are magnificent advertising campaigns, based even on nonsense and do not have to resort to eroticism or violence, which became the easy resource of the mediocre, of those who did not think of anything and desperately sought to make an impact as be it and at any price, since the erotic appeal is an attempt to go to a factual solution, to which it refers when the resources are exhausted or when they are not available.

Therefore, a few years ago the use of this resource in advertising was considered as a passing fad, which followed the trend of the same style that was taking place in neighboring countries, with great rejection by analysts, and certain creative, who considered it as something immoral and against ethics, although the public to whom these messages were addressed did not think the same. As for the arguments that analysts made to criticize it, they were based largely on the dignity of man, since it was understood that the use of sex in the advertising field attributed commercial and consumer estimates to the human body, leaving the margin the valuation of their dignity and respect for the human person. 

Alternative of subliminal advertising

With the passage of time, the way that was used to introduce sex in advertising was through the use of subliminal advertising, where in addition to alleging the subject of death, they also focused on eroticism. Through the use of stimulus creation techniques that touch the thresholds of the senses, it is about unconsciously introducing messages, which powerfully attract attention. However, at present the use of this technique has fallen into disuse, being very difficult to find an advertisement that uses it to attract the consumer to the advertisement, although the most recent has been that of the Martíni company, which in one of its advertisements in 1999 he made use of it by appearing on the screen of three characters. These figures were two young ladies who were dressed in black and white stripes and the famous “Martíni man”, who in one of the phases of the advertisement became drawings that adopt different representations and forms, being in these scenes where subliminal messages are transmitted relating the consumption of this drink with sexual success. Apart from this small announcement, the rest of the companies, as we have already said, do not allude to using this technique because, apart from being prohibited, they currently show the scenes directly, not using “covers” to link the product with factors sensual. being in these scenes where subliminal messages are transmitted relating the consumption of this drink with sexual success. Apart from this small announcement, the rest of the companies, as we have already said, do not allude to using this technique because, apart from being prohibited, they currently show the scenes directly, not using “covers” to link the product with factors sensual. being in these scenes where subliminal messages are transmitted relating the consumption of this drink with sexual success. Apart from this small announcement, the rest of the companies, as we have already said, do not allude to using this technique because, apart from being prohibited, they currently show the scenes directly, not using “covers” to link the product with factors sensual.

The use of eroticism in current advertising

In the XXI century, eroticism has gained prominence, but it goes further, covering topics such as: homosexuality, bestiality, sado-maso, exhibitionism; in a word, provocation, which does not stop at showing us normal scenes, but breaks with all the established rules and with certain moral principles. Among the examples that we can consider that refer to these issues, the first of them is that of the cigarette brand Nobel. In this ad, the topic in question is homosexuality, one of the great taboos in the advertising world, but in which creatives have found a valuable mine, taking advantage of the fact that this segment of the public tends to have an economic level quite high, apart from the fact that the use of this type of images no longer causes so much social rejection. In this advertisement for Nobel, a lonely and bored woman is shown in the center of it, set in an atmospheric bar, four men who passionately kiss each other standing around her, introducing the slogan of “life is hard: your tobacco has no why be ”. Another advertisement that uses homosexuality as a claim is the one that the Spanish Youth Association recently used to promote associationism.

On the other hand, nowadays reference is made to other types of issues, such as zoophilia, that is, “the abnormality consisting of seeking sexual enjoyment with animals”, which has also been exploited in the world of advertising, although less frequently since it is met with greater reluctance on the part of society and especially animal protection associations. However, among the examples that we can highlight of this type of advertising are those of the brand Emmanuel Ungaro, which uses images of models with dogs in its advertisements to promote its collections. Among the advertisements that we show on the interactive CD, we go from bestiality to sado-maso, since dogs are shown dressed in leather masks or images of the dog licking the woman’s foot. Ultimately, the proclamation of all these types of advertisements is: “War on the prudes: down with the prohibited!” And with these ads they are succeeding because nothing is as striking as sex in its most primitive forms.

“Advertisers want to stand out from other brands as it is.” This is a step back from creativity, but do not be alarmist, as the public is prepared to view sex stories with humor. Below we detail a set of advertisements that use the subject in an aseptic and restrictive way, leaving freedom to the imagination of the viewers themselves to determine what is being communicated. For example, the announcement of Jazztel, issued when he launched his Internet portal, he openly resorted to a bed scene: a couple looks at each other in a libidinous way, turns off the light, cries of pleasure are heard and, after 20 seconds, the light comes on and they both appear exhausted : “If you like how fast you will like Jazzfree” says the announcer. In this ad, sex was treated with grace to show that Jazzfree services were reaching their limits. According to the publicist of the agency that made the spot, “the 20 seconds that an ad lasts with beautiful landscapes and sweet melodies cannot be wasted, but you have to catch the viewer’s gaze at any cost, otherwise the publicity would not cover its end ”, Which reaffirms that at the present moment eroticism is a rising value, in accordance with the objectives of advertising, as long as it is treated rigorously.

The use of Man and Woman in advertising

“How long will men continue to die? As long as the woman continues to beget ”. With this phrase from the gospel of the Egyptians, we want to show how the role of women in advertising has been distorted and used as an object, focused on their reproductive purposes, and not as a human being. Practically most of the advertising that we can find today makes use of men and women as erotic references for the induced seduction of their messages. However, it cannot be admitted that the success of an advertising campaign lies in the use of the human being as an object of use and consumption, but must be supported by the recognition of the product itself. Spanish women have been the protagonists of important changes in social life in recent decades that must be assumed and recognized in all areas. This has been understood by the media that have contributed significantly to this transformation. To consolidate and deepen equality between men and women, it is essential to respect their image and adapt it to the current social reality, distancing it from outdated stereotypes.

However, it is regrettable that content considered by citizens to be discriminatory on the grounds of sex continues to appear and to which they protest and make complaints. Advertising is the one that most frequently provokes rejection due to the continuous representation of women in a subordinate or dependent position.

Psychological and neuronal analysis

In this section we are going to try to give some emotional and sociological sense of the use of sex in advertising. Thus, some professionals of human behavior assure that the hidden stimuli within advertising and music have little or no effect on individuals, although others, on the other hand, point out this practice as immoral, daring and dangerous for society. Thus, the Instituto Pro Conciencia thinks that these stimuli (messages with erotic overtones in advertisements) must have some effect on human behavior since it is illogical to think that those in charge of marketing a product are paying for a form of advertising that does not work and Based on that premise, a balanced position can be established: messages do not determine consumer behavior … but whatthey can influence . How much they can influence will depend on each one of us, especially the greater awareness the less possibility of manipulation

The human mind is basically divided into two parts or levels: consciousness and subconscious. The conscious is made up of mental processes whose presence we notice. He is capable of analyzing, criticizing, modifying, accepting and / or rejecting the proposals he receives from outside. The subconscious, on the other hand, is made up of a dynamic set of desires, feelings and impulses outside the field of our conscious perception, it can be compared to a large memory bank that stores, for variable periods, most of the information we perceive. What advertising seeks is to reach that subconscious to program it through stimuli that appeal to sex due to the emotional impact it causes. Plugins are also used ,In other words, stimuli that do not appeal to the sexual, but that respond to the interests of those who are manipulating the most intimate, profound and complicated mechanism of the human nervous system for commercial purposes.

Many people find it difficult to accept the possibility of being manipulated by the subconscious precisely because the stimulus they are perceiving and we would be talking about this advertising that appeals to the conscious through sexual taste, however subliminal advertising does so through stimuli that are not seen, hence there is more reluctance to be manipulated. Examples abound: semi-naked women offering an alcoholic drink with sensuality, young people who kiss with passion after having washed their mouths with Close Up toothpaste, women who achieve totally orgasmic experiences while washing their hair with Herbal Essence shampoo, etc. they show us how to play with people’s perceptions.