Sample Theology Essay Paper on Marketing Communication

Sex Appeal as an Advetising Strategy


Marketers across the globe use advertisement as a vital communication tool to attract
clients. In the modern society, new media exposes customers to various advertisements through
the internet, newspapers, billboards, radio and television. This exposure has direct impacts on the
purchasing decisions, actions, values, and thought patterns of clients. Ultimately, advertisements
influence consumer behavior and determine the decisions that they make during purchasing.
Marketers employ creativity during their campaigns, use varied approaches and techniques in an
effort to attract the attention of clients, enhance the performance of their products on the market,
and build brand equity. In order to improve competitiveness and ensure profitability, they prefer
using sex appeals during advertisement.
Indeed, the use of sex appeal strategies has gained prominence in the recent past. This
implies that organizations acknowledge the power and influence of the strategy in marketing
their services and products. The fact that it is a powerful tool of improving organizational sales
has improved its popularity in marketing. In advertisements, sex appeals are manifested through
sound, verbal as well as visual elements. Usually, marketers determine the degree of explicitness
that each advert contains. Various factors connect sex appeal to the purchasing behavior of

The History of Sex Appeals

Use of sex appeals in marketing is a practice that dates back to historical times. In the
recent past, a significant percentage of organizations have appreciated the effectiveness of using
sex appeals to market their services and products. For example, a study undertaken in 1996
ascertained that sex presents one of the strongest physiological means (Taflinger, 2012, p. 1).

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From a biological point of view, sex appeals trigger in the users a strong desire to find their
mates. Emergent research confirms that the sex appeal marketing strategy is one of the best
approaches of communicating important information to the consumer base (Pelsmacker, Geuens,
& Bergh, 2013, p. 211). This explains why various firms across the globe prefer it over the
conventional non-sexual forms of advertisement. Nonetheless, in certain instances, sexual
content in advertisements may undermine effective translation of brand information.
Specifically, certain facets of the population consider the messages offensive and immoral.
Regardless of these possible shortcomings, sex appeal remains the most effective and successful
marketing strategy and has been useful in promoting sales.
Why Sex Sells

To begin with, sex appeals are instrumental in attracting the attention of clients. In their
research, Frith, Shaw and Cheng (2005, p. 57) found that sexually explicit adverts were more
luring than those without any sexual information. By attracting the attention of clients to these
advertisements, marketers succeed in convincing them to buy their products. Clients become
more attentive to finer details and the entire information presented in the respective adverts.
From a psychological point of view, drawing the attention of the clients to the adverts precedes
efforts of changing their buying behavior. Indirectly therefore, sexual appeals play a vital role of
initiating behavioral changes in consumer purchasing tendencies. Once the marketers gain the
consumers’ attention, they are in the best position to proceed to convincing them to change their
purchasing mannerisms.
Notably, advertisements that employ sex appeals attract the attention of both female and
male clients. It is certain that both male and female consumers are attracted to sexual
information. Marketers use this strategy to ensure that a higher number of clients focus on their

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adverts, and not of their competitors. A classic example of sex appeal that had a positive impact
on the perception of men pertains to the 2000’s launch of Heineken. Reportedly, integration of
sex appeals in the advertisement of this strategy increased its sales by a significant 13% (World
Forum of Sociology, Pirani & Varga, 2010, p. 133).

In order to grasp audience attention, marketers employ a wide range of creative
strategies. Besides being effective attention seekers, sexual elements make the advertisements
more appealing as well as sufficiently interesting (Leiss, Kline, Jhally & Botterill, 2005, p. 86).
Put differently, this strategy is an effective way of incorporating creativity in marketing. In
addition to being eye catching, erotic features foster remembrance of the advertisement as well
as the message contained therein. In this regard, sexual stimulus is an important factor that
triggers and sustains recognition (Reichert, 2003, p. 83).
By making the viewers to recall the messages, advertisements containing sexual appeals
increase the probability of consumers purchasing the products. In addition, the clients are able to
remember and recognize the products amongst other brands. Heller (2000, p. 142) insists that

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marketers use the sex appeal strategy to ensure that the images of the brands stick in the mind of
the consumers. After viewing the advertisement, the consumers are more likely to remember it
whenever need arises. Periodic remembrance of the adverts enables the clients to share the
respective information with other persons. In most cases, they are able to mention the brands in
the conversations and arguments that they have with friends and families. This enhances the
popularity of the brand because various facets of the population are informed about its existence
and availability. In other words, this strategy encourages use of word of mouth to enhance the
popularity of the particular brands. This is a cost effective approach of enhancing the sales and
informing the entire society about the availability of the brand. Considering the fact that modern
populations currently use sophisticated media, the virtual relations that they create and
participate in greatly enhance the marketing of products. A classic iillustration of how word of
mouth and use of new media impacts positively on products that use sex appeals is represented
by the Calvin Klein brand. Reportedly, the images of this product are common on most social
sites (Liu, Cheng & Li, 2009, p. 503)

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Equally imperative is the fact that sex appeals contained in advertisements are
entertaining and encourage active participation of the viewers. This also implies that viewers
would always be willing to view them. This enhances the popularity of the adverts as well as the
brands that they promote. Advertisements with the sex appeal elements engage the mind of the
clients in the sensual acts and as such, viewers are more likely to remember them (Mueller, 2007,
p. 84). In addition, sex appeals in advertisements have positive effects on the emotions of the
clients (Liu et al., p. 503). Essentially, the elements evoke emotional responses in the viewers
that make them to act in certain predetermined ways. From the perspective of the model of the
hierarchy of needs, the affective components are defined by the emotions of an individual. As
indicated earlier, the objectives of marketing revolve around creating favorable attitudes towards
particular products. By succeeding to trigger positive attitudes towards these advertisements, the
marketers also promote assumption of positive perceptions towards the brand under review. An
example of such an advertisement pertains to the Viagra advert.

Viewing advertisements that contain erotic elements leads to feelings of general arousal
(Pope, Voges & Brown, 2004, p. 72). These are characterized by intense positive emotions that

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enhance assumption of positive attitudes towards the brands presented in the advertisements.
Fundamentally, arousal is an important form of motivating the clients in different ways. From a
psychological point of view, the characteristic sexual explicitness of the adverts decreases the
cognitive ability of the clients. Thus, they are unable to elaborate the messages objectively
because their thought processes are affected by the sexual explicitness inherent in the adverts.
Ultimately, they ignore other aspects such as product information and name of the brand.
Further, research evidence ascertains that consumers perceive adverts containing sexual appeals
to be interesting, original and therefore more favorable as compared to non sexual adverts. These
attributes imply that sexual elements are imperative in enhancing the effectiveness of the

The Theoretical Dimension of Sex Appeals

Reichert, Heckler and Jackson (2001, p. 14) assert that the sexual dimension in
advertisement persuades the clients to purchase the products. Usually, these adverts contain
factual information about the effectiveness of the brands that they offer. They use the sexual
appeal to grast audience attention, after which they concentrate on providing the same with facts
regarding the products. In this respect, motivating the consumer to pay attention to the advert
upfront enables marketers to persuade them later. In other words, marketers in this respect prefer
getting the attention of the consumers before providing them with factual information. From the
perception of Martin (2001, p. 15), sexual appeals in advertisement usually use peripheral routes
in an attempt to persuade clients to buy the brands. In some instances, it is worth noting that
consumers may not be motivated by the factual information that the advertisement presents. In
such cases, they respond positively to the feelings and desirable emotions that the respective

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adverts arouse. This is beneficial because it enables marketers to reach a broad consumer base
(Martin, 2001, p. 15).
Sex appeals sell by associating the brands and products that they promote with popular
models. In most instances, media presents models as sexually and physically attractive. Research
evidence shows that certain facets of the populations desire the physique and general wellbeing
of the models (Frith et al, 2005, p. 65). By using these individuals to promote their brands, the
marketers succeed in luring clients that closely associate with the sexuality of the models. For
example, firms marketing women’s perfume may resort to using an extremely handsome male
model in advertising. Such a strategy promotes the belief that using the product would enhance
the social wellbeing of women by attracting such men in their lives. Alternatively, firms use
images of women that are extremely beautiful to promote beauty products. Likewise, this instills
in the clients an idea that women that wear the perfume are comparatively more attractive and
beautiful than their counterparts using other products. Although the presentation of sexuality in
the preceding examples is varied, the end aim is to catch the attention of clients who associate
with the sexuality of top models and influence their consumer behavior. Debeers company
succeeds in advertising its products through use of top models.

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From a theoretical point of view, the self-concept best explains why use of sex appeals is
effective in advertising. This postulates that viewers of advertisements containing sexual
elements base their decisions to buy the products on the roles that the models or actors contained
therein assume (Mueller, 2007, p. 115). In this respect, marketers recognize the importance of
both actual and ideal self-concepts. Individuals who wish to assume the ideal body of models are
more likely to purchase the products that the models promote and vice versa. Generally, the self-
concept theory maintains that advertisers should use appropriate sexually oriented stimulus that
is also congruent to the virtues as well as values of the viewers in order to trigger positive
response. Once clients associate with the stimulus that the marketers develop, the companies are
able to maintain a favorable brand image. During the launch of his first designer perfume,
Alexander McQueen used various young female models to promote the product. Liu et al (2009,

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p. 513) posits that this had a positive effect on the sales of the product. Arguably, employment of
this strategy put in consideration the attitudes and values of the viewers.
The effectiveness of erotic features is attributable to its ability to distract the clients. At
this point in time, it is worth appreciating that the perceptions of clients towards the products
differ considerably. Advertisements provide the right platform for the marketers to communicate
with the client base. Mueller (2007, p. 112) contends that although use of sexual elements may
be irrelevant in certain cases, this has positive implications on the process of communication.
Specifically, the sex appeals prevent the viewers from developing any counter arguments that
may have adverse effects on the image of the brand. Thus, it enables the marketers to convince
hostile clients to purchase their products. Sex appeals in this sense play a distracting role and
make the hostile customers to remember less about the adverts. In some instances, this has a
positive effect on their emotions and eventually, they end up acknowledging the positive
attributes of the products. A typical example of an advertisement that has the distracting effect
pertains to use of sex appeals to advertise pens as illustrated by the following image.

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In his research, Reichert et al (2001, p. 22) argues that employment of numerous sexual
features during marketing has negative effects on the image of the particular brand. In previous
incidences, there has been uproar from the public regarding increased use of explicit sexual
images in advertising. In such cases, the advertisements contravene the societal values and
culture. Thus, the entire consumer base considers it undesirable and socially destructive. This
affects the performance of the product in the market because consumers develop negative
attitudes towards it. Gradually, it affects their purchasing behavior by influencing the decisions
that they make at such times negatively. Ideally, consumers are social beings who derive great
satisfaction from being accepted within the society. Increased opposition from the public
regarding certain adverts has negative spillover effects on the perception of the entire consumer
base. Ultimately, individuals who may be unaware of such brands end up developing negative
attitudes towards them. Although this happens periodically, it only applies to isolated cases.
However, moderate use of sex appeals has positive effects on the performance of the products. It
is an ideal marketing strategy in a society that has become increasingly sexually liberated.

A Critical Evaluation of the Effects of Sex Appeals

Although the preceding discussion ascertains that sexual portrayals have positive impacts
on the sales of the product in the market, there are various negative effects of the use of these
appeals in advertising. This requires that marketers employ the creative strategy effectively in
order to optimize returns. Even if the sexual elements enhance the attention of the clients, they
undermine their ability to process important information about the brand objectively. The fact
that they are appealing and entertaining distracts the viewers and compromises their capacity to
comprehend the factual information contained in the adverts (Pope et al, 2004, p.77). In this
respect, the viewers place undue emphasis on the sexual aspects and forget about the importance

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of other information about the image. From an ethical point of view, this is immoral because
marketers use the strategy to further their economic interests. By failing to consider the negative
effects that such a brand may have on the overall wellbeing of the clients, marketers fail to
uphold moral functioning.
Nonetheless, it is worth appreciating that the distractive nature of the adverts has
beneficial effects on the brand. As noted in this study, the strategy enables advertisers to
penetrate hostile markets. Arguably, it is the responsibility of the consumer to ensure that they
get factual information about the product before purchase. Reichert (2003, p. 121) argues that
consumers that are lured by sexual appeals do not value the importance of the products. From
this point of view, this is a failure on the part of the clients. Besides emphasizing on the sexual
elements, marketers always provide credible information regarding the nature and performance
of the product. Relative standardization is undertaken by important regulatory bodies and
agencies before any advert is allowed to be presented to the audience.
Further, opponents of this strategy argue that is an indecent form of promoting products
on the market. For example, religious conservative groups consider it an immodest approach that
contravenes the value system of the society. In addition, feminist groups perceive use of female
models in the adverts as a way of promoting sexism (Leiss et al, 2005, p. 119). However, these
claims are unfounded and largely guided by fallacious beliefs. Conservative groups are naïve in
marketing businesses and do not approve of important processes that aim at enhancing sales.


Although use of sex appeal in advertising has certain negative implications on the image
of the brand and its general performance, it remains the most ideal strategy that companies can
use to improve sales and enhance productivity. Companies use advertisements to relay vital

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information about the nature and effectiveness of the products to the consumers. The study
establishes that a significant percentage of companies across the globe have resorted to
integrating sex elements in their advertisements. This strategy is effective in attracting as well as
retaining consumers. These elements are connected to the purchasing behavior of clients in
different ways. The strategy succeeds in making clients attentive to the products and sustaining
their interest in the same. Once marketers achieve this, they are able to inform consumers about
important attributes of the products. In addition, gaining the attention of the clients enables
advertisers to present to them information that changes their attitudes and promotes purchasing
behavior. Because of their appealing and entertaining nature, erotic advertisements succeed in
convincing both male and female buyers. Essentially, it is a creative approach of ensuring that
the product or brand registers in the mind of the consumers. This makes the consumers to recall
or remember the product during purchase and while in social interactions. Thus, it allows for
word of mouth promotions as viewers share this information with friends and family.
In addition, these adverts entertain the clients and encourage them to participate in the
sensual acts. By using models that the viewers look up to, the adverts enhance the sales of the
products. In this regard, viewers who associate with these persons or their sexual attributes
develop a compelling urge to purchase the products. The sex appeals arouse positive emotions in
the clients. Since they relate the emotions to the adverts, they tend to extend this to the products
too. Most importantly, it enables marketers to penetrate hostile markets by distracting clients that
are opposed to the products. In particular, it prevents them from developing destructive counter
arguments regarding the products. Although certain studies claim that sex appeals have adverse
effects on consumer purchasing behavior, this strategy promotes sales and profits.
Comparatively, businesses that employ the approach perform better than their counterparts that

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refrain from using it. For this reason, companies that wish to improve the performance of their
products in the market should strongly consider using this marketing strategy.

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List of References

Frith K, Shaw, P & Cheng H, 2005, “The construction of beauty, A cross cultural analysis of
women’s magazine advertising”, Journal of Communication, vol. 55, no. 1, pp. 56-70.
Heller S, 2000, Sex appeal, The art of allure in graphic and advertising design, Allworth Press,
New York.
Leiss W, Kline S, Jhally S & Botterill J, 2005, Social communication in advertising,
Consumption in the mediated marketplace, Routledge, London.
Liu F, Cheng H & Li J, 2009, “Consumer responses to sex appeal advertising: A cross cultural
study”, International Marketing Review, vol. 26, no. 5, pp. 501-520
Martin K 2001, “How far really? Some marketers are ditching the old sex role stereotypes, but
advertising still has a long way to go”, Marketing Magazine, vol. 106, no. 26, pp. 13-14.
Mueller B, 2007, Communicating with the multicultural consumer, theoretical and practical
perspectives, Peter Lang Publishing, New York.
Pelsmacker, P, Geuens, M, & Bergh, J 2013, Marketing communications: A European
perspective, 5th Ed, Pearson, London.
Pope N, Voges K, & Brown R, 2004, “The effect of provocation in the form of mild erotica on
attitude to the ad and corporate image, differences between cause related and product
based advertising”, Journal of Advertising, vol. 33, no. 1, pp. 69-82
Reichert T, 2003, The erotic history of advertising, Prometheus Books, London.
Reichert T, Heckler S & Jackson S, 2001, “The effects of sexual social marketing appeals on
cognitive processing and persuasion”, Journal of Advertising, vol. 30, no. 1, pp. 13-27.

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