How Sex Sells (Tastefully) Online


Image by: Martika G
By Michael Sterling

Since the invention of the internet, marketers have known that sex is never going retract attention, in fact, sexual innuendos in marketing the greatest tool of advertising. Depending on what your product endorses, using sexual appeal to attract consumers is always going to work to your benefit.

Before Television, pin up models and sexy spokeswomen ruled the heads of marketing. “Let’s get a pretty girl!” they would say, and they were right. But there is a fine line between sexual innuendos and down right explicit nature, and that line can mean the difference between high sales and a whole army of disgusted customers.

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Sex “Sales” 

A little bit of imagination goes a long way. Nowadays, products that have nothing to do with sex can show extensive returns after sexy advertisement ventures. Think of sex as a big giant megaphone. It screams at your audience’s attention span, grabbing them for a few seconds, but the secret is holding their gaze long enough to pitch your product.

An Iowa State University study shows that you need a little more than sex to be remembered. 67% of it’s participants remembered neutral ads more often when compared to those who watched ads with sex. According to the study, the reason why the neutral ads were memorable is because they connected to their consumers on an emotional level.

Recent data shows that ads which combing both are often the most effective. Here’s an ad godaddy.com put out at the 2013 Super Bowl, starring Bar Rafaeli:

After this commercial aired, Godaddy.com showed tremendous returns. Hosting sales jumped 45%, dot-com domain sales rose 40%, new mobile customers increased by 35%, and the company added 10,000 new customers.

Emotions Are In The Details

Music, story, editing, clothes, colors, and product display are all significant in delivering a sexy message while staying memorable. When one sees a commercial like Godaddy’s, there is usually a big response. Whether it was, “Oh my god!” or “Yes!” or “That’s disgusting!” It still delivers an emotional trigger, and it’s this aspect that keeps the ad in their minds.

Don’t let the sex strategy overtake your product. Let each ad have a life of it’s own, while the sex plays an undertone. Connect the story WITH the appea, not the other way around.

Reach All Audiences

Unless your service is specifically geared towards men, keep in mind that both men and women like sex. A 2006 statistics poll showed that 1 in 3 visitors to porn sites are women, and 70% of  them chose to keep it secret. This says that sex sells to BOTH genders. Implement a sexy man in your ads every now and then. You might be surprised at the results.

Without being too vulgar, reach children as well. Sex doesn’t need to be about the physical body. There’s many aspects: the tease, the grossness of it, confusion towards the act, a need to look pretty, puberty, ugly to pretty transformation – the possibilities are limitless. These choices have a great deal to do with a sexual idea, but they don’t push the envelope. That’s good marketing.

Create Discussions

Let the sex appeal feed a message you’re trying to say. A purely naked lady on a billboard says nothing. But a naked women at a party with fully clothed business men… that says something. It shouts “freedom,” “adventure,” and “confidence.” Sounds like a great ice breaker, eh?

Sometimes you don’t need to have people. Slogans are great too. For example, a billboard for a smart phone can display it’s product with nothing around it except a line that reads, “… Hello Big Boy.” This line has a minor sexual innuendo, but it’s still fun and can create a great discussion. Start small before you consider pushing the limits. You don’t want to turn people off.