Sexuality in advertising is successful in attracting the consumer’s attention, and in making them remember that sexy message. Sex sells because it helps advertisers not only get that potential buyer to look at their product, but it also helps them to have a higher chance of not only wanting it, but also recalling it later. If a thing is placed next to something sexually appealing, it doesn’t take a rocket science to figure out that it’s a marketing equation destined for take off. In the 21st century, erotic imagery in advertising is more commonplace than ever before, perhaps because of an increased tolerance and more tempered censorship, yet some sexy commercials continue to push kinky boundaries.
The earliest forms of sexy advertising dates back to 1871 when Pearl Tobacco featured a naked maiden on its package cover. Illustrations of attractive Betties in scantily clad clothes, or unclothed from the waist up started to adorn posters, signs and ads for tonics, saloons and tobacco. Because that Betty essentially perked the consumer’s interest and the products sales. In 1885, W. Duke & Sons inserted sexually provocative starlets into cigarette packs, causing them to become the leading American cigarette brand by 1890, and proving that sex in advertising may be just as addicting as nicotine.
Back in the 50s, Elvis was only shown from the waist up. Times have indeed changed as you can find borderline porn while surfing through the prime-time lineup on television. While commercials are pretty easy to disregard, every once in a while, one comes along that not only pushes television’s boundaries, but society’s boundaries too. Some sexually oriented advertisements can provoke quite a backlash because while sexy imagery is effective, it’s also heavy with taboos and volatile attitudes.
Sex in advertising sells and repels
Such is the case with what is being called ‘the most racist commercial.’ In the recently trending laundry detergent ad in China, a woman is seen throwing a black man into a washing machine and transforming him into a Chinese man. This commercial proves that while sexy advertising may attract one market’s demographic, it also holds potential to completely repel another. Gallup & Robinson, an advertising and marketing research firm reported that in more than 50 years of testing advertising effectiveness it found: “Erotic is an above average effective technique with the marketplace, but it’s dangerous for the advertiser, meaning HANDLE WITH CARE and SELLER BEWARE; all of which some how, makes it even more intriguing.”
This Chinese laundry commercial was far from the first to push the western world’s buttons although it is the most recent, and it’s probably the only laundry commercial that doesn’t just smell, it stinks. For the kinky record, this was far from the first time sex and soap met in advertising. The first time was in 1911, when Woodbury’s Facial soap was about to be discontinued. The soap’s sales decline reversed after its advertisements started showing pictures of romantic couples and promises of love and intimacy. It’s an odd kinky truth, while sexy images in advertisement attract some, it also carries the reverse weighted potential to repel, and smell rank with controversy.
Calvin Klein hit controversy for his jeans advertisement in the 90s when he showed a 15-year-old Brooke Shields in a pair of Calvin Klein jeans saying, “Want to know what gets between me and my Calvins? Nothing.” So did Benetton when it used interracial groupings and unusual sexy images like a nun kissing a priest. But the sexy fact remains, for better or for worse, sex in advertising sells despite that taboo advertisement being discontinued. While the ad is removed, it would think that the campaign would suffer, but it could still prove to be successful, showing that sexy imagery sells even if society doesn’t consider it a politically correct sale.
Sex as a marketing tool can make or break a campaign
Herein for your consideration are the top ten sexiest commercials of all-time, and almost all of them were just too hot for the presses at the time of their release causing a shit storm of conservatives and bible beaters to throw a temper tantrum. From ads for burgers to beer, this list of ‘The Kinkiest Commercials,’ demonstrates that while sex in advertising sells, it also holds the power to repel, and in each consumer lies the ability to make that sexy decision for themselves.
1. AXE BULLET
Axe is a dude’s cologne that often has highly steamy innuendos in their marketing campaigns. In the case of the X-Ray Vision, this rather tame commercial explores a commonplace fantasy of, “What if I could see through women’s clothing?” How is invading other people’s privacy, appropriate and sexy? Axe plays off of the notion of X-Ray Vision allowing a guy the opportunity to see the opposite sex non-consensually in their intimate apparel, and that plays on the fetish of voyeurism. It’s a sexy fact, if dudes were given a choice of Ray Ban sunglasses, or X-Ray goggles, it’s no surprise which one they’d wear on a more consistent basis.
2. CARL’S JR. W/ PARIS HILTON
While this commercial is sexy, it’s also pretty freaking disgusting. First, you get to see Paris washing a car which is like, “Damn girl!” But then you have to see her awkwardly crawl over the hood of the car, chomping down a burger. Give me strength.
3. VICTORIA’S SECRET CHRISTMAS
The company’s reputation thrives and survives on the marketing theory that sex sells and smells great. Check out their catalog and you’ll see models parading about advertising lingerie and body crème. This commercial depicts just that along with the whispers of models saying, “Tell me you love me,” and “Tell me you want me.” Thank Victoria’s Secret for the marketing campaign of soft porn that convinces men that buying into something naughty is nice.
4. MILLER CAT FIGHT
It’s THE daydream of every dude: women that are so passionate about beer that they’re willing to wrestle over it. Leave it to a beer company, to find a sense of humor that choreographs this cat fight into a wrestling match. This ad was so popular that it led to an even sexier sequel featuring Pamela Anderson.
5. BAVARIA BEER
Another beer ad that knows what men want. It basically shows two homies chilling on the beach when one discovers that by moving the bottle, he’s directing a bikini clad model to do as he desires. Implying that with that Bavaria beer bottle in your hand, you’re essentially holding a magical wand.
6. NEW YORKER
This sexy commercials tells quite the kinky tale. It shows a young bride giving an erotic dance to her geriatric groom, and the worst that can be expected happens. This sexy commercial could also serve as a public service announcement for heart disease or high blood pressure too!
7. CINDY CRAWFORD FOR PEPSI
This is considered the most successful and sexiest ad campaign of all times which is fascinating since Cindy Crawford is rocking a conservative white tank top as well as waist high jean cutoffs. Two young boys are commenting on the ‘New Pepsi can,’ and they call it ‘beautiful’ while checking out Crawford’s cans.
8. EVA MENDES FOR CALVIN KLEIN
In this kinky commercial, television actress Eva Mendes is shown disheveled, and writhing around naked. There’s a peek of her nipple as well as some back-wrenching flexibility showing her rolling around in the sheets. Calvin Klein succeeded in mastering soft porn commercials just in case your modem’s speed was up to par with streaming a porn.
While most of these commercials don’t seem outright offensive in the western world in 2016, now that you know a bit more about the history of sex in advertising, you’re sure to agree that it’s because the public eye has grown desensitized with sexy images in advertising.
Curious to see commercials so kinky that they got booted? Then check out the Top 5 Sexiest Banned Food Commercials, and decide for yourself if that commercial was just too sexy for it’s time, or if the use of sexy images in its marketing campaign didn’t smell, it stank!