When it comes to marketing, most people believe in the popular adage “Sex Sells.” According to a recent study, however, that might not be the case. The study was published in the academic journal, “Psychological Bulletin” and looked at behaviors after people watched television programming that included sexual and/or violent content. The results were surprisingly similar, and not at all what many people would have expected.
Brad Bushman, who published this meta-study and is a professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University said that, “It never helps to have violence and sex in commercials. It either hurts, or has no effect at all.”
The studies specifically showed that those brands that use sex or violence are remembered less often than other brands, and when they are remembered it is less favorably. These two factors go against all the goals of marketing efforts.
Within the research it was found that the same is true for both men and women. This basically nullifies the idea that using sex to advertise to men is effective. Even if it does get their attention at first, it is unlikely that it will cause them to want to buy a product or even remember the product. This actually makes since given the fact that when you think about ‘sexy commercials’ you think about beer, but not necessary a specific brand.
There is also ‘reverse’ evidence that supports the study. This shows that ‘family friendly’ commercials are very effective. Many major companies including Wal-Mart have been moving toward the more ‘PG’ rated advertising and with great results. Wal-Mart did research and found that when they advertised on family-friendly programming the results were 18% better than when it was on questionable programming.
Of course, the type of programming an ad is run on will also have a big influence on how the ad is seen. While the study itself is primarily focused on the most effective types of ads themselves, it is also important to keep in mind that. This applies to more than just television advertising as well. If you are using digital marketing you will want to make sure your ads are appearing on sites that are in line with your overall advertising strategy.