The use of sex in advertising can be highly overt or extremely subtle. It ranges from relatively explicit displays of sexual acts, to the use of basic cosmetics to enhance attractive features.
Over the past few decades, the use of increasingly explicit sexual imagery in consumer-oriented print, TV and Internet advertising has become almost commonplace. This is not a new phenomenon, the female form has been used to sell products and services ever since man invented ‘the market place’. Sexuality is considered one of the most powerful tools of marketing and particularly advertising.
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Sex has been utilized in advertising since its beginning. The earliest forms are wood carvings and illustrations of attractive women (often unclothed from the waist up) adorned posters, signs, and ads for saloons, tonics, and tobacco. In several notable cases, sex in advertising has been claimed as the reason for increased consumer interest and sales. The earliest known use of sex in advertising is by the Pearl Tobacco brand in 1871, which featured a naked maiden on the package cover. In 1885, W. Duke & Sons inserted trading cards into cigarette packs that featured sexually provocative starlets. Duke grew to become the leading cigarette brand by 1890 (Porter, 1971). Woodbury’s Facial Soap, a woman’s beauty bar, was almost discontinued in 1910. The soap’s sales decline was reversed, however, with ads containing images of romantic couples and promises of love and intimacy for those using the brand (Account Histories, 1926). Jovan Musk Oil, introduced in 1971, was promoted with sexual entendre and descriptions of the fragrance’s sexual attraction properties. As a result, Jovane, Inc.’s revenue grew from $1.5 million in 1971 to $77 million by 1978 (Sloan & Millman, 1979).
Sex in advertising. (2011, November 28). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 14:51, January 17, 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Sex_in_advertising&oldid=462871503
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