Sex obsession just a turn-off

Now that complaints about advertising are at a record high (MW 1 May), perhaps some clients need a rethink on the specific function of their campaigns.

Increases in the use of sex (explicit or implicit), bad language and graphic imagery abound in an apparent attempt to achieve “stand-out”, but stand-out for what purpose? Having grabbed my attention through the use of a semi-naked nubile female, why am I any more likely to buy your product – unless said female is one of the benefits on offer?

Intelligent use of appropriate sex and bad language is to be applauded where it reflects positively on the brand and engages consumers. But if I neither think nor act differently as a result, what has been achieved? Worse, those consumers with some semblance of education surely recognise the use of shock tactics and so the brand devalues in their opinion.

If agencies truly believe in the pitch – that advertising can shift attitudes, change behaviour and affect actions – isn’t it time to set standards rather than limply resort to a lowest common denominator?

My copy of “Ogivily on Advertising” is out on loan, otherwise I would offer it to any young creative labouring under the misapprehension that sex, violence or swearing are adequate compensation for lack of product advantage.

Steve Prior



London TW3

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