Why Sex In Ads Don’t Work, And Violence Is Even Worse, Says New Research

Why Sex In Ads Don’t Work, And Violence Is Even Worse, Says New Research
SHARE
THIS



While the adage ‘sex sells’ has become virtually synonymous with advertising, research coming out of the American Psychological Association suggests this isn’t actually the case.

The study Do sex and violence sell? A meta-analytic review of the effects of sexual and violent media and ad content on memory, attitudes and buying intentions found brands that advertised with violent and sexualised content were remembered less often and looked on less favourably.

“We found almost no evidence that violent and sexual programs and ads increased advertising effectiveness,” said Brad J. Bushman, PhD, professor of communication and psychology at The Ohio State University, and a co-author on the study.

“In general, we found violent and sexual programs, and ads with violent or sexual content decreased advertising effectiveness.”

The second co-author Robert B. Lull added it’s not because people aren’t attracted to sex and violence, “on the contrary, people have been attracted to sex and violence since evolutionary times, when attending to violent cues prevented our ancestors from being killed by enemies or predators and paying attention to sexual cues attuned our ancestors to potential reproductive opportunities.”

Taking a look at violent and sexual content in the media – which includes violent/sexual TV programs, movie, games etc – Lull and Bushman determined advertisers believe sex and violence sells, so buy prime time ad spots during programs with high sexual and violent content. And subsequently, producers continue to produce the intense content as it attracts the ad dollars.

According to the study, gun violence in movies rated PG13 (PG in Australia) have more than tripled since 1985, and many of the top selling games, movies and TV shows were rated on the basis of violent content and sexual content.

“Overall, these percentages suggest that almost half of the most popular shows, films, and games contain violence, and more than a quarter contain sex,” said the report. “Therefore, insofar as a larger audience leads to more exposure for the product and thus more potential customers, advertising in violent and sexual media may provide advertisers the exposure they seek.”

However, the results from the study concluded violent media content “impairs brand memory, brand attitudes and buying intentions”, which means brands who advertise within violent programs, games, movies etc end up on the periphery of the program, not at the forefront of the consumer’s mind. Whereas no violent media content means “individuals can focus attention on the central and peripheral cues in the advertisement”.

Similarly, in terms of sexual content in advertising, brands who upped the raunchiness were looked on “less favourably” than those who took the safer route. However, the authors noted there were no statistically significant effects for advertising during highly sexualised media content.

The study used 53 different experiments and 8489 participants during 2014 to come to its conclusions. The study was published online on July 20, 2015.

Bushman added: “Our findings have tremendous applied significance, especially for advertisers. Sex and violence do not sell, and in fact they may even backfire by impairing memory, attitudes and buying intentions for advertised products.

“Thus, advertisers should think twice about sponsoring violent and sexual programs, and about using violent and sexual themes in their ads.”

Please login with linkedin to comment

Latest News

Craig McLachlan Says He Will Sue Fairfax & The ABC Over Harassment Claims
  • Media

Craig McLachlan Says He Will Sue Fairfax & The ABC Over Harassment Claims

Embattled actor Craig McLachlan, currently the centre of some unsavoury sexual assault allegations, has said he will sue both Fairfax Media and the ABC. The two media bodies combined in a joint investigation to expose allegations that McLachlan sexually harassed three women – actresses Christie Whelan Browne, Angela Scundi and Erika Heynatz – during a 2014 production of The Rocky […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Former Adland Duo’s New Start-Up Attempts To Redefine The Future Of Freelancing
  • Marketing
  • Technology

Former Adland Duo’s New Start-Up Attempts To Redefine The Future Of Freelancing

The former MD of digital agency MullenLowe Profero, Dave Bentley, has partnered with ex-Razorfish’s Senior Tech Manager, Nick Stevens, to launch a new company designed to revolutionise freelancing in the creative and digital industries by streamlining the way organisations and freelancers find each other and work together. Cavalry Freelancing is an online marketplace that intelligently matches projects with industry freelancers in minutes based on expertise, skills, availability, rates and reputation.

Channel Nine’s Today Busted Nicking A BBC Promo “Word For Word”
  • Media

Channel Nine’s Today Busted Nicking A BBC Promo “Word For Word”

It’s been a rather ignominious debut for Nine’s Today show for 2018 amid accusations a promotion for its hosting line-up, featuring the newly-installed Georgie Gardner, is a direct rip-off of an ad that aired for a UK breakfast show back in 2016. B&T has contacted Nine for comment on the allegations, however, it declined our offer to do […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Case Study: How Content Helped Tribal Marketing Come To Life Amongst Rev-Heads.
  • Opinion

Case Study: How Content Helped Tribal Marketing Come To Life Amongst Rev-Heads.

In this guest post, CEO of content marketing agency Edge, Fergus Stoddart (pictured below), says brands would do well to play on their customer’s loyal tribalism… Normally over Christmas, any downtime is spent asleep on the sofa, mildly lubricated with a belly full. This year, with the Ashes in the background, I managed to stay awake […]

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Red Bull Holden Racing Team Unveils 2018 Cars On Sydney Harbour
  • Marketing

Red Bull Holden Racing Team Unveils 2018 Cars On Sydney Harbour

Red Bull Holden Racing team took the covers off its 2018 Holden Commodore Supercar today. Floating on a barge in Farm Cove, the harbour provided a stunning backdrop for the reveal. Teammates Jamie Whincup and Shane van Gisbergen have won the past two championships for the squad. Whincup, now the greatest of all time with seven Supercar’s titles, […]

Victorian Government Launches VR Bushfire Experience Via The Fuel Agency
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns
  • Technology

Victorian Government Launches VR Bushfire Experience Via The Fuel Agency

As part of its summer fire campaign, the Victorian government has launched a virtual reality (VR) bushfire experience and content series via The Fuel Agency. The VR experience places the user in the midst of a large bushfire, and is designed to encourage people to leave early on high-risk days before it’s too late. The […]

Local Ad Tech Company VeNA Partners With RugbyPass
  • Advertising
  • Media
  • Technology

Local Ad Tech Company VeNA Partners With RugbyPass

ad tech company VeNA has signed an exclusive reseller partnership covering Australia and New Zealand with digital rugby network RugbyPass. Across Asia and parts of Europe, RugbyPass is the exclusive digital rights holder and over-the-top broadcaster for live rugby, including the Super Rugby, the Rugby Championship and autumn internationals, the Six Nations, the Aviva Premiership, […]

SpotX Appoints Gavin Buxton As Asia MD
  • Advertising

SpotX Appoints Gavin Buxton As Asia MD

Video advertising platform SpotX has announced it has appointed Gavin Buxton as managing director of Asia to lead the company’s expansion in the region. Buxton has over 17 years’ global experience in the digital advertising space, having worked in leadership roles at tech and publishing companies, including Microsoft, Turner Broadcasting, and LinkedIn, with the last […]

Big Mobile Doubles Down On Ad Tech & Rebrands
  • Advertising
  • Technology

Big Mobile Doubles Down On Ad Tech & Rebrands

B&T Awards 2017 finalist Big Mobile has unveiled a fresh look to reflect its new ad tech credentials. The company successfully pivoted its business from ad network to mobile ad tech vendor when it announced a joint venture (JV) with Widespace in October last year. As a result of the business changes, Big Mobile wanted […]

March One Appoints New Senior Account Manager
  • Advertising

March One Appoints New Senior Account Manager

Independent ad agency March One has appointed a fresh face to the team, with Melanie Tozer to reinforce its mission to put humans first as a senior account manager. Tozer (pictured above), an up-and-coming talent from New Zealand, will align her extensive experience in FMCG marketing with March One, having worked on accounts for Bunnings […]