It´s probably not a secret, that males and females have different perceptions and opinions about sex in advertising and PR. But who is the key audience, advertising agencies address with showing almost naked bodies? Most of the time sexual ads show women, so the answer seems to be simple: Males! Lets have a look on what a professional SexSells survey revealed when it recently explored how men and women look at sexually themed ads.
The MediaAnalyser poll did not only focus on how genders perceive sexual ads differently, it also figured out what effect, if any, that visual behaviour might have on the ads’ effectiveness.
The first part of the test solicited general opinions about sex in advertising:
While almost half of men (48 percent) said they like sexual ads, few women did (8 percent). Most men (63 percent) said sexual ads have a high stopping power for them; fewer women thought so (28 percent). Also, most women (58 percent) said there is too much sex in advertising; only 29 percent of men said so. Women were also much more likely than men to say that sexual ads promote a deterioration of moral and social values and that they are demeaning for the models used in them.
The second part, a visual test exposed a similar polarization:
Men tend to focus on an ad’s sexual imagery (breasts, legs, skin, etc.), which draws their attention away from other elements of the ad (logo, product shot, headline). This may be why men’s brand recall was worse for the sexual ads than for the nonsexual ones. An average of 19.8 percent recalled the correct brand/product for the nonsexual ads; for the sexual ads, 9.8 percent did. MediaAnalyzer calls this the “vampire effect,” with a toostrong visual sucking up a lot of the attention that would have otherwise been spent on an ad’s actual communication. For further information visit: www.mediaanalyser.com
But what does these results mean for us as PR professionals?
Is sex an approved advertising and PR strategy, above all, if we want to promote a women´s product? Moreover, the question is if ‘SexSells’ is effective as women don´t like sexual overflow and men can´t remember the brand name?
What do you think? Does sex in campaigns create brand equity or is it our challenge as PR specialists to look for other ways to promote a brand? In my eyes, the survey revealed once more that messages and visuals have to be particularly designed for the main target audience…