Is It True that Sex Sells?

If you work in marketing or advertising, or even if you don’t, you’ve probably heard the expression “Sex Sells”. It’s as common an ads cliché as anything else. And because it’s so common, we all just assume it to be true.

We know that when we see a fast food restaurant, or a website domain hosting company use scantily clad women in their ads, they do it because it works. It gets people’s attention, and they end up with more customers because of it.

End of story. Right?

Not so fast, says a new study out of Ohio State University. Researchers, leery of the claim that sex does indeed sell, analyzed the results of 53 experiments and found conclusive results in the opposite direction.

“Violence and sex never helped and often hurt ad effectiveness,” states the findings of the study. Brands that used sexual ads or whose ads were shown during violent programming were remembered less often and viewed less favorably than other brands.

Remember this the next time someone at your company uses the cliché, Sex Sells to defend their unworthy ad campaign.