Saucy: The Science Behind Why Sex Sells

Not too long ago, Abercrombie and Fitch was the hot product on every teenager from New York to Tupelo. The brand, like so many others before it, was the favored brand among teens and 20-somethings. Then, the bottom fell out of everything with the economy. Instead of every teenager dreaming of a fat wallet and six-figure income, they had to face the reality of waking up and job hunting, then returning to their parents’ houses.

You can see the trouble A&F faced when an ad campaign of theirs featured scantily clad teens looking gaunt skinny and, well…jobless. It is one thing in prosperous times to shows teens relaxing and sunbathing on the beach, wasting away their hours of leisure. It is another during lean times, to show skinny and sand covered young’uns with ill-fitting clothing. It is a huge turn off for the market they are trying to reach.

No Common Sense? No Problem

It proves a point: sex sells, but not when we are hungry. As seen in the Daily Mail, recent studies show that sexy campaigns show that sexy images appeal to a part of the brain that reverts to impulse buying and overrides common sense. With that being said, there is also evidence showing that we are becoming desensitized to sex. We are constantly bombarded with sex in movies, television and print ads. Everywhere we look, sex is there. It is a good sign that images of sex or overridden by our personal feelings of trouble, or hunger.


It’s no secret that Go Daddy founder Bob Parsons can drive media attention. From Danica Patrick to countless other sexy models and actors, Go Daddy took the tongue-in-cheek approach and unabashedly brought sexy back to TV in a big way. Strange thing is, the product Mr. Parsons is selling is likely the most sterile and sex-less product: domain names. Who knew webhosting was so sexy? Bravo, Mr. Parsons. Bravo.


Not only are Heineken’s campaigns sexy, they are also cleverly and feature great music. From the cyborg-robot sexiness to the Amy Winehouse-esque divas of their most recent campaigns, these ads make the purveyors of the beer seem like the coolest people ever. Tasteful and chic, Heineken definitely does it right.


Axe goes right for the Frat-boy jugular with this ad campaign. Trying to appeal to every newly post-pubescent boy is brilliant in a sense. What teenage boy doesn’t fantasize about a magical elixir that makes him irresistible to the opposite sex? Problem is, there isn’t one. You can criticize Axe for their approach, but not for their results.


In the immortal words of Al Bundy, “Hooters, Peg!” Hooters takes their ad campaign and integrates it into their theme. No false advertising here. They offer wings, beer and, well…Hooters. From commercials to calendars, at least Hooters is not selling something completely unrelated to their ads. They have pretty girls and food.

Calvin Klein

Calvin Klein is no stranger to selling sex, but the Secret Obsession campaign really ups the ante for selling with sex. Nearly every part of the campaign was banned nearly everywhere, and it is a shame because Eva Mendes, the spokes model is a stunning beauty. The fact that the campaign is effectively censored did not seem to hurt Calvin Klein, as we all know the only thing sexier than blatant sex is being told we cannot see blatant sex.


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