Does Sex Really Sell?

USA Today’s Ad Meter tracks the immediate responses of a panel of viewers to advertisements during the Super Bowl and ranks them best to worst. This year Budweiser’s “Dog Trains a Clydesdale,” FedEx’s “Pigeon Carriers Can’t Compete With Fed Ex,” and Bridgestone’s “Critters Scream Before a Near Miss” were the top three fan favorites.

What is surprising about these three Super Bowl ads? Well, none of them featured stereotypical bikini-clad women enticing men to buy beer or used sex to sell their products. Instead, Budweiser, FedEx and Bridgestone’s advertisements featured animals as their stars to tug at the heart strings and tickle the funny bone of viewers. In the Budweiser ad, a Dalmatian becomes a personal trainer to a dejected draft horse eager to make the team pulling the famous Budweiser beer wagon. The Dalmatian trains Hank the Clydesdale to the tune of the Rocky theme.

While many companies, such as Victoria Secret, still chose the “sex sells” route, Super Bowl fans responded more positively to the ones that did not. Therefore, can companies turn down the “sleaze factor” and still have successful advertising campaigns? Maybe society is tired of pushing the sex appeal envelope.


3 responses to “Does Sex Really Sell?

  1. Allie, the three advertisements you mentioned were my favorites too. I agree — comedy trumps the “sex sells” route.

  2. Hello Allie,

    Great post. I like the issues you raise. If we are ever going to evolve past the “sex sells” epoch we seem to be stuck in, I think it will be largely due to market forces.

    For example, I have been blogging alot about the generations, mostly Millennials, the generation I assume you are a member of, since you are Dr. Derville’s student (lucky you!). I think that you guys can change this and many more things in our society for the better. Your intelligent blog posts shows the world a different perspective on what sells.

    Your role in PR may just be to help bring about enlightened change in marketing. Good for you!

    Les Potter
    Vienna, VA

  3. Les,

    It’s an honor to have you read my blog, as I am an active follower of More With Les. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this subject. I truly believe Millennials have the power to leave behind larger footsteps than any generation before us. PR students have the tools, motivations and leadership to do so, and I think my peers will pave a path towards change. Not only in marketing and public relations, but in politics, education, and the enviornment. Thank you for your encouragement. It is much appreciated!


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