Sex And Advertiments Essay, Research Paper
Sex in AdvertisingDescription of this essay : Sex in AdvertisingTHE EFFECTIVENESS OF SEXUAL PORTRAYALS IN ADVERTISING. Advertisers use sexuality in the form of nudity, sexual im-agery and innuendo as an advertising tool for a wide variety of pro-ducts. Products ranging from personal care to industrial machinery. The use of sexual ap-peal in advertising comes from the widely held belief that sexual portray-als are effective in calling attention to the advertise-ment itself. Adver-tisers believe that sexual imagery in advertisement creates interest for the advertised product and motivates consumers to buy it. Concern whether sexual portrayals and innuendo in advertising is effective has been around for many years. Indeed, research evidence shows that men and women both like to look at adver-tisements that show attractive models, and that both prefer models of the opposite sex(1). The presence of sexual appeals in advertising is very pervasive in the United States and, in fact, in much of the world. Contempo-rary con-sumption is often promoted in terms of fulfilling erotic fantasies and appetites. However, the use of such appeals is con-stantly con-test-ed in terms of ethics and morality, much of sexual norms and mores in general have been contested throughout both Amer-i-can and world history (6). The issue of sexuality in advertising is what is called a “soft issue,” based in complex subjective and social-ly/culturally con-structed roots and values. Sexual appeals used in ads are of many types and consist of a variety of elements. They often are grounded in visual elements, such as attractive models, and may portray vary-ing degrees of nudity and suggestiveness. However, such appeals may also include suggestive verbal elements, as well as other elements, such as sugges-tive music and even smells in “scent strip” advertis-ing. Consideration of these elements is important because they may determine whether peo-ple think the sexual appeal is ethical or un-ethical. For example, though ads that simply use attractive, sexy models are themselves prob-lematic to some people, the consensus seems to be that such ads are acceptable. Many if not most people, however, would probably oppose nudity in gen-eral advertising. Hence in relating sexual appeals to ethical concerns, we must consider not only sexual appeals in general but also the spe-cif-ic forms of those ap peals. This research gives some justification to the use of decorative models of both sexes. On the other hand, extremely sexual stimuli, such as nude models, or models in extremely stimulating poses, have been shown to be ineffective selling techniques for both men and wom-en(2). The research indicates that a model perceived as sexy and at-tractive may enhance communications effectiveness if that model is perceived as appropriate to the product situation. However, extremely seductive, partially clad, and nude models are as likely to create unfavorable as favorable effects. There will be strong differences in evaluation of such models. The sexier the advertis-ing message, the more risky it becomes in terms of communications effectiveness. There-fore, communi-cation effectiveness will be en-hanced if advertisers use models who are attractive and sexy, but avoid using overly seductive, nude or partially clad models. To give an example of a risky advertis-ing I will use the campaign of Vauxhall Motors Ltd.’s Corsa advertis-ing. The advertising campaign behind Vauxhall’s latest big volume baby is billed as a giant leap forward for the car industry. But what is the reality behind the high-octane hype? Robert Dwek investigates, “It’s non-car advertis-ing for a non-car audience.” Chris Lacey, mar-keting director at Vauxhall for the past six months, is waxing lyrical about the launch of the new Corsa, which replaced the Nova in April. They say there are no bad cars anymore, just bad car marketers. Str-eam-lined, rein-forced, warranted, airbagged, stuffed with electronic and security equipment – the biggest problem facing cars today is convinc-ing con-sumers that hey still have that one essential ingredient: per-sonali-ty. To build up this personality even more Vauxhall decided to use “non-car advertising” philosophy, to opt for the wacky, off-beat, tongue-in-check campaign titled “Corsa: the new supermodel” which perhaps was not as innovative as he imagines. In the ads are the five very sexy supermodels featured – Naomi Campbell, Christie Turl-ington, Linda Evan-gelista, Tatjana Patitz and Kate Moss, who are all should catch the eye of the consumer. But the campaign seems to be attracting the wrong sort of attention – some people just aren’t getting a joke. Judging by the level of complaints about alleged sexism and “aggressive sexuali-ty”‘ and graffitied calls to “stop degrading women” appearing on many of the posters around London, some consumers consider this a rath-er clumsy attempt at subtlety. One of the TV ads, featuring Ms. Camp-bell in “bondage gear”, has been moved to after the 9 PM watershed, follow-ing pressure from an-ti-pornography campaigners (7). This is an example how risky can a sexy advertisement might be. After employing such an advertisement the sales of Vauxhall’s cars fell dramatically from 70,00 units sold in 1990 to 45,000 units in 1992. Some of the reasons why advertisers employ sexual strategies are to gain product-category and brand attention, recognition, re-call, favor-able brand attitudes and eventually sales. Therefore most of the stud-ies conducted in the area of the effectiveness of sexual portrayal in advertising focused on the above mentioned char-acteristics. For example, in the new TV commercials for Obsession’s frances, Calvin Klein does not walk away from sexuality, he just gives it a new gait. “We decided it was time to move on, to give a new edge to our commercials and perhaps to look at sexuality and sensuality in a new way,” said Carmen Dubroc, senior VP-marketing of Calvin Klein Cosmetics, a division of Unilever’s Elizabeth Arden Inc. The passages of obsessive passion from “The Great Gatsby,” “The Sun Also Rises,” “Women in Love” and “Madame Bovary” preserve the intense sexuality of the brand’s image. “In U.S., Obsession sales are estimated at more than $100 million wholesale, putting it among the top 5 selling department store brands,” industry sources said (8). So Calvin Klein does very well by employing sexuality in its advertising. Chest-nut, LaChance and Lubitz examined the communica-tion ef-fec-tive-ness of a deco-rative model. A sexy and attractive model that stands beside an auto-mobile being advertised is a decora-tive model. They tested the effect of the presence or absence of a decorative model using two recognition tests: “one for the entire advertisement and the other for brand name only. Using these tests, they distin-guished between model-related and brand-name related memory of the advertisement.(3)” They took four groups of twenty five male stu-dents. Both tests were admin-istered to the samples. Each group was exposed to fifty different magazine adver-tisements. The results showed that when the decorative model was pres-ent, she influenced the memory for model-related informa-tion, but had no influence on the recognition of a brand name. Conclu-sion of the Chestnut, LaC-hance and Lubutz was that “decorative model exerts an influence on a product’s image, thus facilitating recognition of the entire adver-tisement. However, a decorative model will not result in increased recall of all aspects of the advertisement.(3)” Consequently, the presence of decorative models had no significant effect on brand-name recall but she still exerts influence on a pro-duct image, and product image is still one of the things that mar-keters are after. Baker and Churchill extended the research of Chestnut, Lubitz and LaChance. He focused on the effects of an advertisement depend-ing on the model’s attractiveness, rather than just presence or absence of such a model. Both male and female subjects evaluated a coffee adver-tisement and a cologne advertisement. He found that the more attrac-tive the male or female model, the more both sexes like the advertise-ment. Baker and Churchill’s experiment suggests that physical attrac-tiveness and a gender of a model can influence adver-tising effective-ness. The right model can increase the chances that an advertisement is liked and in certain circumstance also affects intentions to buy. Patzer furthered the understanding of model effects. He stud-ied the influence of the degrees of sexiness of female models. Patzer defined sexiness by “liberal dress, a seductive pose, or suggestive stance.(4)” Both males and females were selected as subjects and asked to evaluate mock-up advertisements for a nonexis-tent new body soap. Half the sub-jects rated a sexy advertisements, half a non sexy adver-tisement. Male subjects showed that a sexy model increased advertising effectiveness. Model sexiness also was positively correlated with perceptions of prod-uct expansiveness. On the other hand for females sexiness of a female model did not im-prove advertising effectiveness. Patzer interpreted these results to mean that: “Males and females employ different stan-dards to rate the sexiness of female models; for males sexiness is equated with physical attractiveness, but not for females; males at-tribute favorable characteristics to a sexy female including credibili-ty, trustworthiness, intelligence, and expertise, while females do not; model sexiness, as perceived by males only, does have a positive impact on evaluation of product characteristics; and males apparent-ly find sexy advertisements more effective overall, wher-eas females find them to be unbelievable, uninformative, confusing, and not influential.(4)” What Patzer’s study and conclusion suggests is that using sexy model to influence males is very effective and mar-ket-ers should use this tech-nique. Apparently, they have to use different approach to influence females. That same model may pro-duce negative results in females and destroy all commu-nication. There-fore, from all the studies conducted, it appears that attrac-tive and sexy models do increase attention to the advertisement. When the model is perceived favorably, the advertise-ment , the ad-vertised brand and the producing company benefit from more favorable attitude of them. Even though use of a sexy and attractive model does not result in a better brand re-call, it results in a better general recognition of the advertisement and company image. What about the effectiveness of nude or sexually explicit mod-els. A study in this area of sexual portrayals deals di-rectly with the ques-tion of female nudity in advertising and its effectiveness with men and women(5). The authors, Peterson and Kerin, note an increasing number and variety of products being marketed with sexual overtones, including cosmetics, ski equipment, clothing, and indus-trial products. In their study, Peterson and Kerin show that adver-tisements containing seduc-tive and nude models are consistently per-ceived, by both sexes, to be less appealing than ads using no models or demure models. Moreover, when seductive or nude models are used, the associat-ed product and manufac-turer are perceived as low in qua-lity and not reputable. The authors conclude: “While there appears to be a trend toward increasing nudity in ad-ver-tisements, albeit “functional” or “tasteful” nudity, in the pres-ent study use of a nude model resulted in the least favorable per-ceptions. Hence, at this time it is perhaps ap-propriate to question whether mar-keters are making a fundamen-tal mistake by employing nu-dity in their advertisements. Rath-er than appearing as innova-tive,-(fashionable?), the use of nudity may ultimately produce dele-terious effects, not only regarding perceptions toward the firm’s advertise-ments, but even toward its products and corporate im-age.(5)” As we can clearly see from the Peterson and Kerin research, that adver-tisements containing overtly sexual stimuli by adver-tisers does little or nothing to enhance the effectiveness of the ad. On the opposite, such appeals may actually lessen advertising effective-ne-ss. In my opin-ion, it lessens the adver-tising effectiveness, , be-cause such adver-tisements do not provide a sophisticated percep-tion about the company to the consumers. The company that comes to use explicit nudity and extremely erotic pictures earns no respect from it’s customers because reasonable customers will usually see that the real reason why such an advertisement is used is because some-thing else is needed to cover up the product. There are cases of course where sexuality is related to the advertised product. Adver-tising of sexually-related products in magazines such as Pent-house and Playboy is an example. Also advertis-ing for adult or sex films will use nudity in advertising. But adver-tising of sexually-related products is the only area that will truly benefit from the sexually explicit commercials. From looking at the research conducted on the topic of the com-mu-ni-cation effectiveness of sexually designed advertise-ments, we can con-clude that the use of decorative, attractive, partially clad, and nude models do facilitate recognition of an advertisement, and fe-male models are a particularly effective among male consumers. But decorative models are just as effective in getting attention as nude or partially clad models. The research evidence suggests that it is the presence of an attractive person which accounts for attention-getting, not the nudity or sexual suggestiveness as such. The sexi-er the advertising message, the more risky it becomes in terms of communications effec-tiveness.
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