Caution, 18+: How the Sex Trigger Works in Advertising

Caution, 18+: How the Sex Trigger Works in Advertising

Beware, the article will contain a lot of words about sex, sexual content and erotica in advertising.

What makes you buy a product? Promotion three for the price of two, exclusivity in the form of closed access, which only a select few have, or even the novelty of a product that has recently appeared on sale. Whatever one may say, all these options are psychological tricks of marketers who want to find the key to their clients’ wallet.

There are a lot of such psychological tricks, and they are called triggers. What triggers are and how they work, see here. But today we will take a closer look at another trigger that is popular – this is sex. Yes, you heard right. The fact is, marketers are very fond of using sexual connotations in banners, ads, and even videos. Only, alas, it does not always look appropriate and makes you want to buy. Therefore, in the article we will analyze successful and unsuccessful examples of sex in advertising and give small recommendations.

If you decide to use sexuality in your advertising, then this is a risky step. Any wrong word or bad photo can compromise your company. And then the glory will definitely be provided. Not the one you dreamed of.

On the plus side, advertisements with sexual connotations can get good viral reach through sharing and distribution on social networks, including in the form of memes. Here are 20 examples of commercial content (and sexy too) that has gained popularity on the internet.

Erotica and sexuality in advertising

To begin with, let us consider successful examples where sexual overtones are appropriate and do not cause negativity, but on the contrary inspires.

Successful ads with sexual content

Example No. 1.

A network of Swedish sex shops made a congratulatory video for its 30th anniversary. And although the topic of business with its entire name screams that you can’t do without erotic content, in the end everything turns out to be wrong. See for yourself:

In my opinion, from an aesthetic point of view, the video is very high quality. And although only sweets and fruits are used in the video, everyone understands what this is about.

Example No. 2.

Agent Provocateur specializes in the sale of sexy lingerie and naturally they have a lot of commercials that cause a mixed reaction from the audience. Someone remains delighted, and someone, on the contrary, joins the ranks of haters.

Advertising, albeit with an erotic slant, does not cross the line with vulgarity. And those who are interested in the product have the full opportunity to see it from all sides in action.

Example No. 3.

All advertising for J’adore Dior is based on the image of a girl who demonstrates her femininity in all its glory, so it cannot do without sexual overtones. Charlize Theron manages to convey the atmosphere of the fragrance well.

It is worth noting that all Dior videos are recognizable due to a single style and message for the target audience.

Example No. 4.

Not what you thought. This is a wine tasting advertisement. If the organizers set themselves the task of attracting attention, they definitely succeeded.

wine tasting banner

As for the aesthetics itself, the banner looks interesting. Does not cause rejection and negative emotions. The implementation seems to be as simple as the world, but it takes a lot of effort to get this kind of work done.

Example No. 5.

Let’s move a little away from global brands and talk about life. Let’s consider the standard implementation of the “sex” trigger in Russian realities.

Many marketers like to use female images in auto-themes. This is understandable, because any issues related to the maintenance of the car, as a rule, are dealt with by men. But do not forget that the audience of transport owners is divided approximately 50% by 50% – men and women.

As a result, you can see beauties in short shorts on the banners. Everything would be fine, but not always a deliberately sexy image looks aesthetically pleasing, and in most cases even the opposite. In this regard, I have two banner options for you – good and not so good. Now you will see everything for yourself.

Option 1:

The banner is designed in the same style and is dominated by green colors, which are combined with the company logo. No vulgarity – the girl does not look vulgar. The main emphasis is on the text, and the visual component only complements it.

car wash advertising banner

Option 2:

According to this banner, one can really say that an economy class car wash. Although the general concept is the same with the first option, the implementation is lame. The result is anti-sex.

bad car wash ad banner

Unsuccessful ads with sexual content

The most interesting part of the article. Moving on to examples that make you want to ask two questions – what did the marketer use and why hasn’t he been fired yet?

Example No. 1.

The provocative ad for Epica yogurt was removed this year. Although there is a rumor that this is not an advertisement at all, but a teaser of the Youtube project “Why Are They So Sour?” Starring Ivan Dorn and a bathroom full of yogurt. Happy viewing.

Advertising is not advertising, nevertheless, the brand name of the yoghurt in the video was blown out. And although there was an application for sexuality, it was far from the most successful.

Example No. 2.

I do not even know where to start. It just so happened that foreign companies convey the trigger of sex through visualization and images. But Russian marketers love to play with words. In 80% of cases, this is a failure.

“Pine to every customer” is an ambiguous phrase, isn’t it?

I do not argue, the banner attracted attention and even gained popularity, only there is no sense with such an advertisement. Those who were going to buy land from the company may have already abandoned this venture after the aggressive banner.

land sale advertising banner

Example No. 3.

And this is a series of burgers, which decided to hyip on “original” banners. Therefore, if you want “This is the best thing that went into your mouth for 100 rubles” and love “Take in your mouth for a penny” and also “Suck as much as you want”, then come and taste delicious burgers, hamburgers, etc. etc.

What, you also somehow didn’t want to? I don’t think you are the only ones.

Option 1.

burger ad banner

Option 2.

street food advertising banner

I do not argue that such advertising can also “come in” if you want to draw attention to your brand. But you need to be ready for the negative in your address and be able to handle it.

Example No. 4.

Although the company advertises a dual-core phone, the close-up still shows a girl in a bikini. Naturally, most of the users thought about the wrong two kernels.

machinery sale advertising banner

On the banner, the main emphasis should be on the product, and not on the girl. But, alas, the information about the smartphone occupies 30% of the image. Therefore, the banner turned out to be vulgar and uninformative.

Example No. 5.

“I gave it to your neighbor for free” – these are the words that catch your eye. The very wording with erotic overtones. And only then, when you look closely at the image, you realize that we are talking about the Internet.

Such advertising certainly attracts attention with its unusual wording. But do not go too far with ambiguous statements. They may not be to everyone’s liking and cause the reaction you expected.

internet month ad banner free

Let’s summarize: is sex in advertising necessary?

Sex in advertising is a good thing, but you have to be careful. Otherwise, you can get into a reputation scandal. And then all moralists, feminists and women’s rights activists can turn against your brand. Watch the loudest reputation scandals of 2018, including those related to sexism.

If you’re okay, here are 4 rules to follow when using the sex trigger:

  1. Analyze your target audience

    See who your clients are – women or men. How do they make a purchase decision, what promotions and actions your company reacts to best. To collect such data, you will need web analytics reports and internal company reporting.

    After collecting information, you can already tell how effective the trigger “sex” is for your company. Perhaps you will come to the conclusion that it is useless and it is better to play on greed or haste.

  2. Assess how appropriate the “sex” trigger will be for your topic

    It all depends on what the company is doing and the data that you received from the first paragraph. Here’s a quick example by topic – whether to use sexy content or not:

    Subject Suitable / Not Suitable
    Auto Widely used, but pay attention to example No. 5… It all depends on the concept and its implementation.
    The medicine When people are looking for medical services, the main thing for them is professionalism. Therefore, advertising with erotic content can scare away.
    Education Educational services are not an area where you need to throw out your wild fantasies. In this topic, on the contrary, it is better to avoid any hint of sex.
    Industrial equipment Advertising materials with erotic overtones will look inappropriate, since the target audience is other companies.
    Appliances, including household You can use it, but the main focus should be on the product.
    Travel services, recreation Yes, it is possible to use and preferably to focus on visualization – for example, a vacation on the paradise islands.
    Legal services Also not a subject where sexual images are permissible. Remember that first of all people solve their problems, therefore they are looking for a professional lawyer.
    Food There are exceptions. You need to look at the product itself and the concept, it is desirable to also focus on pleasure.
    Real estate Not always appropriate. The only place where it will look good is the sale of houses and apartments in resort towns. And then if the general concept is not on the verge of a foul.

    We have listed the options for sexual advertising, but all frameworks are conditional. Naturally, you can have your own opinion. Therefore, if you understand that you can make good quality advertising without vulgarity, then do it. If in doubt, it’s best not to take it.

  3. Text and visualization

    In advertising materials, you can focus on either the text or the visual component. If you focus on the text, then try to keep the ambiguity not off scale. For example, my “favorite” examples from advertising:

    • “We will stretch you” – we are talking about stretch ceilings;
    • “I give to everyone” – services, loans, etc.
    • “I grew up with your neighbor” – we are talking about the speed of the Internet;
    • “Suck for a penny” – advertising of vacuum cleaners;
    • “Do you know who I took it from?” An advertisement for a sushi delivery;
    • “It’s hardening before your very eyes” – an advertisement for concrete;
    • “Pamper a Lady with Cancer” – an advertisement for seafood.

    If you focus on the visual part, try to choose a high-quality interesting photo for banners.

  4. Advertising run by test group

    This will determine if you have crossed the line with vulgarity. Therefore, gather a test group or team to understand how relevant your ad is and how the audience will react to it. And yes, take the moralists into the group. They will definitely not allow vulgarity to pass to the masses and tarnish your reputation.

That, in fact, is all. A sex trigger in advertising only works when all the stars converge – the idea suits the taste of the target audience, you have a suitable theme and the implementation is perfect. If at least one of these points sags, then, alas, no success can be seen. Therefore, be careful and do not make your ad too aggressive, it can scare off potential customers.

PS By the way, we can also check your ad. Only not on the “sex” trigger, but on the effectiveness in terms of attracting customers. Therefore, if contextual advertising works, and you have not received any profit from it, order an ad audit. We will identify all the errors and give recommendations on how to improve it.

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