When Sexual Imagery Becomes Too Much in Advertising


I watched her as she stripped off her clothes, slowly, batting her eyelids and pulling me seductively to the bed……………

I bet the title of this post and the first paragraph got your attention and awakened your curiosity to know exactly what this post is driving at. So if I was an advertiser and I want to promote my product, all I need to grab your attention is to put up the word sex or use any sexual indicators to do so. I could as well use a nude picture of a very beautiful and attractive lady to achieve the same result.

The use of sex appeal to attract customers can be traced way back to the 1900’s and it is showing no signs of slowing down as we can see it gradually becoming bolder and diverse. Sex is one of the basic human emotions and a universally accepted marketing tool ever used in advertising.

This explains why advertisers have been leveraging on sex appeal to advertise their products and services because there is a 99.9% chance that it will increase their customer base by attracting new customers and fostering brand loyalty amongst recent customers. There’s this consciousness created by some brands that constant use of their products increases your level of sexual confidence and attractiveness and elevates your social status. This is common amongst brands that deal in toothpaste, shaving sticks, perfumes/deodorant and other related products.

So much has been written about the use of sex as an advertising tool, so this is not going to be another cliché article. This post is specifically concerned with the negative effect of excessive use of sexual appeal on creativity in advertisement design/creation. Creativity is a very essential element in advertising. This is because the sole aim of advertising is to woo customers to your products or brand and to beat competitors. Therefore, in doing so, one has to come up with brilliant ideas that will defeat those of your competitors and place you at an advantageous point in the market. Creativity and advertising are two sides of a coin that cannot be separated.

However, most advertising agencies are now so wrapped up in the use of sexual appeal that it seems almost impossible for them to create an outstanding advert without the use of half-naked models or sexual innuendos. An examination of the image below will go a step further in buttressing my point.

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These two advertisements are in no way related to sex products but sexual imagery was employed to grab attention before conveying the original message.

There is no denying the fact that there are certain products that are sexually related and have to depend on the use of sexual imagery or fantasies to be advertised. For example products like sex pills, sex toys and other related product. However, other non-related brands have exploited the fact that sex sells and have refused to be creative in their ideas rather they have pitched their tent around sexual appeal and wrap all their design around it.

Considering the age in which we operate, where technology and digitalization has overtaken virtually every aspect of human life, there is a need for advertisers to think outside the box. There is no denying the fact that sex sells but the question however remains, is it the only advertising element that sells? Please feel free to drop your comments and let us discuss.