Sex sells?

The fact that sex is a taboo issue in society comes because sex was considered as something sinful in the past, something that had to be hidden. So that, it has been censored socially; and if sex is done without love… no way. Although, the truth is that little by little sex education is being taught in schools, and this makes it look better and better. I, fortunately, have an open-minded, modern family who does not hesitate to talk about sex and give us -me and my sister- information about it, because as my mother says “it is always better to have as much information as possible than not to have any; what you do after knowing it is up to you”.

Everyone knows that sex sells. That’s why companies take on models, hostesses and actors for their advertisements. As, for example, the perfume advertisement performed by the Spanish actor, Antonio Banderas, that you can see in this link and judge by yourselves. The sales power of sex has fueled the advertisements in media, product design, packaging, distribution and the image itself.

The business of fashion has always used provocation as a tool to sell clothes. But the incursion of the more conventional brands into these marketing strategies reopens the discussion over the use of sexuality in order to sell more products. See the Lee Jeans ad.

In these television ads it is not appropriate to use, specially, the women’s body as a sexual object. I say “specially” because there are also some ads in which men are the victims; but… in the vast majority of ads the female gender is the victim. Advertising has begun to use a highly sexist images that humiliate women by showing them as a purely sexual object. In these ads, women find themselves without any personality, without their own identity; they only put their bodies and beauty at the mercy of men. We can ensure that there is no relation between the women that appear in advertisements and the real women, since ads only show women that fit the “canon of beauty” that reigns in society. It would be ridiculous to think that they will show a fat or adult woman in these television ads. As the image of women is so relevant, it would not be rare to point out that the values that she is currently worthy to admire are “beauty, youth and thinness”. And these three values are supposed to be indispensable for us when we try to reach success. Nor will you see in television ads any woman who makes her own decisions, intelligent, capable of reasoning for herself… because it would contrast with the female image that “sells” per excellence. But in these cases, if it’s true that “sex sells”… who buys?

Richmond Ham is an English ham brand that, in its new campaign, shows bare farmers frolicking around the countryside. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is considering possible sanctions after receiving more than 350 complaints of Richmond Ham’s advertisement.

Does sex sell? In the case of Richmond Ham, I can’t say anything because I don’t know the statistics, whether their sales increased or fell after the campaign. Richmond Ham learned the lesson: after the complaints they deleted the most offensive part of the advertisement, in which one of the farmers showed his back. I supposed they wanted to do nothing more than humorously use the slogan “as nature intended” with a double meaning.

To tell the truth, if there is something that demonstrates perfectly that sex is still interesting as a sale pitch it is literature, and it does a lot. Look at the case of “50 Shades of Grey”, E.L. James’ erotic novel. It became the fastest selling book in history.

I think there is nothing wrong in using sex as a strategy to sell and as another source of emotions in life. However, the abuse of this resource may not be effective in the long run and play against the brand or to make tired the viewer because of its repetition, and even less when the relationship between product and sexuality is not congruent or there is an “object” treatment for some of the genders (usually, female). This video describes exactly what I think about the objectification of women, that is in the vast majority of television ads, unfortunately.

Thanks to Jennifer A. and Sam Packer