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.”

Latest News

Women In Media Profile: Judy Sahay
  • Media

Women In Media Profile: Judy Sahay

B&T's Women in Media profiles are like a wave washing over you. Even more so if an actual wave washes over you.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
How B2B Companies Can Use Their Customer Data More Effectively (And Why They Need To)
  • Marketing
  • Opinion

How B2B Companies Can Use Their Customer Data More Effectively (And Why They Need To)

In this opinion piece, SalesPreso co-founder and CMO Joel Thomson (pictured below) explains how B2B companies can use their data more effectively and deliver a personalised customer experience that matches their B2C counterparts. From the Cambridge Analytica scandal to the EU’s recent GDPR legislation, this year has prompted individuals all over the world to consider […]

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
M&C Saatchi Launches THIS Film Studio
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Media

M&C Saatchi Launches THIS Film Studio

Not one to rest on its laurels, M&C Saatchi unveils new production studio it hasn't called 'Not One To Rest On Laurels'.

Creative Agency Launches Project Management Tool ‘Hassl’
  • Advertising
  • Technology

Creative Agency Launches Project Management Tool ‘Hassl’

Yesterday at TedX Melbourne the team behind award-winning, Melbourne-based agency Your Creative launched their new tech venture Hassl, the project management platform taking on Trello and the likes. With the belief there was a better design solution to project management, the platform has been developed over the last two years in collaboration with their clients. […]

ABC Axes Tom Ballard’s Tonightly
  • Media

ABC Axes Tom Ballard’s Tonightly

It's one of the ABC's edgier, controversial shows, but Tom Ballard's proven too edgy and controversial for ABC chiefs.

Taboola Strengthens APAC Programmatic Offering With New Partnership
  • Advertising
  • Media

Taboola Strengthens APAC Programmatic Offering With New Partnership

Global discovery platform Taboola has announced a strategic partnership with Wider Planet, Korea’s largest demand-side and data management platform. The partnership builds on Taboola’s programmatic efforts in Asia-Pacific, and will bring together Korea’s largest demand platform for agencies and brands to provide access to Taboola’s global audience through premium publisher placements. The partnership means advertisers […]

The Haus Picks Up Two New Clients
  • Marketing

The Haus Picks Up Two New Clients

The Haus announces two new client wins. Admittedly, not as good as winning three, but far better than losing four.

businessman using tablet PC and information communication technology concept. IoT(Internet of Things). GUI(graphical user interface). paperless office.
  • Marketing
  • Technology

Smartly: The Future Of Martech Is Automated

Automated ad buying platform, Smartly was at the centre of the tech innovation stage at the Online Retailer conference 2018. Smartly head of ANZ Marta Bonzanini (pictured below) discussed the integral role automation plays in the future of marketers and creatives. “If an ad is not performing as well as planned, you probably have some […]

Messenger Launches Video Chat AR Games
  • Technology

Messenger Launches Video Chat AR Games

For the moments when we can’t be together IRL, Messenger video chat helps you connect in real-time with the people you care about most. Chatting face-to-face live makes all the difference when you have exciting news to share, you need a study buddy for a big test, or you simply want to pass the time […]

Sphere Wins Stockdale And Leggo
  • Media

Sphere Wins Stockdale And Leggo

Sphere snares Stockdale & Leggo business, which is a real estate group & not a simmer sauce as first reported on B&T.

Aussie AgTech Start-Up Leads Global Farming Innovation
  • Technology

Aussie AgTech Start-Up Leads Global Farming Innovation

With Aussie farmers facing so many challenges, could the answer be Blockchain technology? Ranking top 10 at this year’s Overseas Talent Entrepreneurial Conference (OTEC), pitching against 32 other start-ups from around the world, Aussie start-up Agunity are leading AgTech innovation. Having won the right to represent Australia during Investible’s nation-wide pitch competition, AgUnity took to […]

Women In Media Profile: Carolyn Bollaci
  • Media

Women In Media Profile: Carolyn Bollaci

Facebook's Carolyn Bollaci is the latest to sup at B&T's truth serum we prefer to call our Women in Media profiles.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Vic Govt Unveils ‘Tafe + Jobs’ Via Fuel Agency
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns

Vic Govt Unveils ‘Tafe + Jobs’ Via Fuel Agency

The Fuel Agency has launched the new ‘TAFE + Jobs’ campaign, aimed to promote and drive applications and enrolments for courses starting in 2019 There’s a lot happening in Victoria, with record investment in road and rail projects, and in the health, community and disability sectors. As a result, there’s greater demand for skilled workers. […]

Rakuten Marketing Appoints New CEO
  • Marketing
  • Technology

Rakuten Marketing Appoints New CEO

Rakuten has a new CEO. However, judging by the tired handshake photo, B&T doesn't have any new ways of illustrating it.

Why Consumers Block Your Advertising
  • Advertising
  • Opinion

Why Consumers Block Your Advertising

Who better to explain why your ads are getting blocked than a real ad blocking expert. As B&T has done right here.

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Women In Media Profile: Jackie Crossman
  • Media

Women In Media Profile: Jackie Crossman

B&T has spared no expense with today's top Women in Media profile, save for suit hire, corsage and dry-cleaning.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Kantar certified by Google as a verified Measurement Partner
  • Technology

Kantar certified by Google as a verified Measurement Partner

The announcement designates Kantar as an approved third-party measurement provider for brands looking to verify their media spend performance on Google owned platforms. Kantar is approved globally to provide both Brand Lift Insights for evaluation of brand impact from campaigns and for independent measurement of audience reach from campaigns on Google properties. Kantar CEO Eric […]

THIS
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Media

Final Call! B&T Late Entries Close Today!

B&T Award entries officially close at 5pm today! Good news if you've almost finished, bad news if you haven't started.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine