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Sexuality in Advertising

Sexuality in advertising serves several purposes. The prevalent view is that sex itself is appealing, so it gets people to pay attention to the advertising message surrounding it. There is also a shock value that has become more and more important to some advertisers for the same reason--to get the attention of the consumer. American advertisers know that sex sells products and they use sex in ways both overt and subtle, depending on the product and the campaign.

Much of our culture is based on physical attractiveness and its power to persuade, to attract, to influence, and, in a real sense, to succeed. Sex is used in advertising as an expression of physical attractiveness. Our advertising media clearly believe in the power of physical attractiveness to persuade, and spokespersons for products and other people used in television commercials and print ads tend to be physically attractive far beyond the norm in society, apparently based on the belief that we tend to listen more closely to a message delivered by someone who is physically attractive. We are certainly attracted to beauty, though our definition of beauty will differ from person to person and even from context to context. It seems clear then that we would tend to listen to someone who is physically attractive, in essence paying more attention to them than we would to someone who was not physically attractive. It is not as clear that we would be persuaded by beauty instead of by the strength of the message delivered. Those who feel that physical beauty and persuasion go hand in hand are effectively identifying physical beauty itself as persuasive so that the mere presence of physical beauty is an argument in itself.

Cialdini (1985) discusses the reasons why people are persuaded to take action, and while physical attractiveness is included as one of the reasons for a person's being persuasive, the author notes that recent findings indicate that this is an ...

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Sexuality in Advertising. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 09:13, April 22, 2019, from