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

Advertising Standards Bureau cannabrand Movies. James Bond splendour in the grass

Latest News

Twitter Lifts Revenue 74% On The Back Of Advertising Boom
  • Technology

Twitter Lifts Revenue 74% On The Back Of Advertising Boom

Twitter has just experienced its fastest growth in revenue since 2014, with the social media platform benefiting from increased interest from advertisers. Revenue was up 74 per cent YoY, according to the company’s Q2 results, reaching $US1.19 billion ($1.6 billion) from $US683.4 million ($925 million) 12 months ago. The strong results came in the same […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Wild Turkey Whisky Campaign Stars A Smouldering Matthew McConaughey
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns

Wild Turkey Whisky Campaign Stars A Smouldering Matthew McConaughey

Wild Turkey has announced the launch of its new global creative campaign and platform, ‘Trust Your Spirit’, featuring the brand’s creative director and spokesperson, Matthew McConaughey. The global campaign and platform ‘Trust Your Spirit’ is to encourage people to be bold, unapologetically themselves, and stay true to who they are. The global tagline and ethos […]

Optus Teams Up With TikTok To Launch Sign-Language Campaign
  • Marketing
  • Technology

Optus Teams Up With TikTok To Launch Sign-Language Campaign

Telecommunications company Optus has announced it will launch the world’s first TikTok sign-language activated filter. Featuring Optus ambassador Ian Thorpe, Optus will unveil a branded effect that shows TikTok users how to say key phrases in Auslan sign language, including ‘How are you?’ and ‘It starts with Yes’, through the hashtag challenge #SignYes. Optus will […]

Bapcor Debuts First Campaign With AJF
  • Campaigns

Bapcor Debuts First Campaign With AJF

Asia Pacific’s leading provider of vehicle parts, accessories, equipment, service and solutions, Bapcor will launch its latest campaign, ‘The unseen parts of every Australian journey’ this weekend.

Professional microphone in radio studio
  • Advertising
  • Media

Podsight’s Benchmark Report Shows Podcast Advertising More Effective Than Other Digital Channels

Podsights has revealed new insights into the effectiveness of advertising in podcasts, tracking global and Australian podcast advertising trends. This is the first Australian report to be published since ARN partnered with Podsights to set the standard for best-in-class podcast advertising measurement. The report includes additional analysis and follows a series of Measurement Masterclasses held for […]

NGEN’s Charity Cup Raises Over 175K For UnLtd Charity Gotcha4Life
  • Campaigns

NGEN’s Charity Cup Raises Over 175K For UnLtd Charity Gotcha4Life

NGEN’s 2021 charity cup has raised over $175,000 for UnLtd charity partner Gotcha4Life. Gotcha4Life is a not-for-profit foundation raising awareness and funding to provide educational workshops and innovative programs that build mental fitness in individuals and communities. While Sydney and Brisbane completed the Charity Cup in June, before Covid restrictions hit, the final leg in […]

Biennale Of Sydney & Cicada Innovations Launch Sustainable Materials Challenge
  • Campaigns

Biennale Of Sydney & Cicada Innovations Launch Sustainable Materials Challenge

Australian tech incubator Cicada Innovations and Biennale of Sydney are launching the ‘New & Sustainable Materials Challenge,’ in an effort to create a more sustainable future. The works of chosen material-makers will be showcased to millions of Biennale audiences, exhibition partners, and exhibition makers globally. The Challenge is open to any Australian and UK startups, […]