Our desires can be influenced without our knowing and in advertising sex is a powerful emotion used to influence and bind a viewer to the object and subject of concern. Sex is so powerful for this purpose that only a suggestion is required to create a powerful reaction in the audience. I sometimes think whether the over sexualized nature of what we are exposed to probably creates a certain type of consumer perpetually on the tipping point. Though it seems apt that sex should have its place in the advertiser's toolbox. In advertising the goal is to affect the viewer in a way that leaves a long-lasting and memorable experience. How can a 15 second ad or a 30 second ad become something we remember hours later? Well, we can make it funny, sad, charge it with sex, and apply all types of emotion to it that triggers a response.
Rationalize all you want but emotions drive decisions.
In Thomas Moore’s book, the Soul of Sex, he states that sex takes us into a world of intense passions, sensual touch, exciting fantasies, many levels of meaning, and subtle emotions. It makes the imagination come alive with fantasy, reverie, and memory. Thomas Moore is describing, and rightly so, a wholly different world from the tedium of the ‘grind’, it is a world filed with satisfaction, bliss, sweet honey and thanks to advertisers, it is a world filled with Tom Ford perfumes, Amazon Kindles, and Burger King. When sex is present in the environment, i.e. the commercial, it colors the viewers conception of that reality by degrees, and presents the object hitherto, at the center of that other world.
This new light, the advertisers hope, is the light by which you and I may now view this perfume, burger, car, etc. Not surprisingly this method works with laser precision. It's noted that the first two facts which we about sex are these: first that it is beautiful and then that it is dangerous. The danger lies in the fact that our senses are defeated by this method and even if the object advertised fails to make an impact, the viewer is already conditioned and their concept of reality colored a certain hue.
Sex sells in advertising because the response elicits a strong emotion. It makes contact with the viewer with optimum impact and it is quite compatible with everything. Look at a car commercial, a fast food commercial, and if you’ve got an eye trained for it, you can see that call of the siren to buy that sweet sweet feeling. And finally with the advent of TV billboards I for one look forward to how this new medium will utilize strong emotions shaping what we buy.