Phew, welcome back to Advertising and Society. Today, we begin the consideration of a pretty hot topic. It's the question of, does sex sell? Now [LAUGH] I think all of us can relate to the issue of sex because it's one of the most fundamental things about hu, the human condition, and it gets excited. We perspire. We get enthralled by things that are about sex. But interestingly, when we look at advertising, it's also very, very, much about sex. Indeed, I'd goes so far as to say that sexual imagery permeates modern advertising. But does it sell? This is the question for this week, of whether advertising that includes all this sexual imagery does anything more than get us all excited, turned on possibly to the very sexual imagery that we see in it. We'll look at the pros and cons addressing this question because the verdict is out. It isn't terribly clear what the answer is. But there's some things that point in both directions. Now, there's a second and very pressing question wrapped up with all of this, and that is simply the question of, what kind of sex does advertising sell? You might wonder what I mean by this, but I'm actually talking about when we see those images, what are the images of? Most of the time, throughout the history of advertising, these have been images of heteronormativity, a man, a woman involved in a sexual encounter or a suggestive sexual encounter. But today, we've seen advertising expand in its representation of sex to include all sorts of alternative sexualities. And we'll consider them as well this week as we look into this matter of what kind of sex advertising actually sells. Some of the earliest instances of sex in selling are the advertising trade cards that many tobacco companies put into packages of cigarettes. They did this in the late 1800s as a way of adding value and premiums to a package of cigarettes. Worked a little bit like modern baseball cards. And in this image here, you can see some of the kinds of things that they did. These are images of rather risque women for the time. They were erotic and sexual, and people were encouraged to collect a whole set of these things. But the actual beginning of what most people consider to be the real use of sex in selling doesn't begin until later in the early 20th century. Woodbury facial soap in a very frequently cited ad asked the question to readers, is this in fact the skin you love to touch, and it showed a man embracing a woman, and this is a light embrace by modern terms. It doesn't look terribly sexy or terribly involved. In fact, it's really kind of vanilla stuff for, for modern times. But at the time that this appeared in the early 20th century, this was considered so risque, so over the edge, that in the Ladies' Home Journal where the advertisement first appeared, many people canceled their subscriptions because they thought it was simply over the edge. Now, Woodbury Soap went on to use sexual imagery in some of its later advertising. In the 1930s, for example, they used a woman who is completely naked. We don't, of course, see any public hair or genitals. That would take a while, Playboy in the 1950s and 60s, before such a thing would happen. What we are seeing here are images of health, fitness and nudism, which were part of American culture at that point in time. And this advertisement pays homage to those interests and sensitivities. And then later, the same company in the 1940s upgrades all of this by showing a couple engaged in a much more dramatic and fiery embrace. So you could see how these things changed over time and this is the same company, from its humble beginnings of a man just embracing a woman to really a much more engaged sexual relationship. Now, these older examples are important part, they are an important part of the story that we're telling here because they show that sex in advertising goes back a very long time, indeed to the very beginnings of American advertising itself in the late 1800s. And they also show that the kinds of imagery that are acceptable have changed over time. However, this is a case of advertising not merely reflecting social mores of the times, but often challenging them and setting new standards of sexual license and erotic propriety. Later years saw the expansion of erotic appeals in advertising, as well as considerable publicity that these things generated in newspapers, editorials and letters that commented on them. The story is really one of continually pushing the limits of erotic appeals until we arrive at the present situation, where erotic imagery is a mainstay of contemporary advertising. You can see, for example, in this image, the promise of sex is still sold with touchable skin, but the ante is way up from where it began. Now, there isn't a scholar who has made a study, a long-term study of the question of, does sex actually sell? Professor Tom Relchert, a business school professor, has looked into this and examined it very carefully and written a book called the Erotic History of Advertising, published in 2003. And in this, he examines the evidence for the question of whether sex does in fact enhance the sales of products. Now, Reichert points out that defining what sex in advertising actually is is no easy matter. So he makes a number of points about what we need to look at when we are thinking about this question. So he begins by saying this. Sex in advertising is often characterized as showing attractive models in various stages of undress, models displayed are po, are posing decoratively, or models engaged in suggestive behavior, either alone or with some other people. Now, you can see this clearly in this ad for Guess jeans. In this pose, there are exposed parts of a model's body. The ad reads when we look at it as alluring and inviting. This one is from the year 2009 and thus pretty contemporary. Now, another point that he makes is that sex in advertising often employs sexual double entendres and innuendos. And that sexual imagery is present in a subliminal sort of way, and there are sex-related promises very often that are contained in ads. In this very famous image, one that really dates back to 19, the 1950s, Clairol used the question, does she or doesn't she? Meaning on the surface, does she or doesn't she dye her hair? And they went on to say it's so natural that only her hairdresser knows for sure. But of course, the question, does she or doesn't she, does not just refer to the question of hair coloring, but does include sexual innuendos as well. And this is the sort of thing that Reichert also means when he talks about sex and selling. Now, another thing that he points out is that sex and advertising often revolves around clothing. What models are wearing or what they're not wearing, for example. And that sexy clothing and revealing displays of hu, the human body represent a fundamental type of sexual information. Now, here's a classic Super Bowl ad in which you can see a spot that plays on male desire for beautiful women. And the women in the ad, Cindy Crawford, is just in a very revealing set of clothes. So this ad had a lot of play. It was well remembered. It was thought to be exso, extraordinarily sexy, and I think it plays well even in contemporary times. [MUSIC] >> Is that a great new Pepsi can, or what? >> Introducing a whole new way to look at Pepsi and Diet Pepsi. >> It's beautiful. >> Another aspect of what Reichert points out is that sex in advertising is also about what's under the clothing, especially underwear. Beauty and good looks turn people on, and advertisers use attractive models to draw attention. If you look at this model, you'll see that he has a very bronzed and cut body, and that this contrasts significantly with the white underwear. And furthermore, you can actually see if you look at the underwear, that the outline of his genitals is actually visible. So we've come a long way from those early images to things like this, where the body is really on display and very intimate parts of it are more or less visible in the advertising. Reichert also says that sex and advertising is about what models do that is sexy. The models can pose seductively. They can communicate sexual interest by flirting with the viewer or with someone else in the ad. In this particular ad, you can see the model in a very inviting pose. She makes eye contact with the viewer and that seals the deal here of how this is a sexual kind of engagement that the viewer is being invited into. Another thing that Reichert brings up in his broad discussion of sex and advertising is that sex is often employed in images of closeness between a couple. The couple can be touching, kissing, or even simulating sexual behavior. And in this particular image, you can see the couple engaged in an intimate sexual encounter. This is from 2009, so we're again dealing with things that are reasonably contemporary. Now further, Reichert says sex and advertising can be enhanced by production elements such as suggestive photography, camera angles, editing, pacing and so forth, sexy music, lighting effects, and very romantic locales. I particularly like this ad as an example of the use of sex and selling because the camera clearly focuses on the woman's genital area. This from 2006 and I don't know what else to call this except an example of using sex to sell. Now further, Reichert says that sex and advertising can be based on sexual language and words. There are phrases that have innocent meanings, but they can be transformed when they are accompanied by sexual images. For example, in this ad, the word, there is word play. It says refreshing things happen in the oui hours of the night. And of course, we're talking about oui in French O-U-I. But it also refers to the late hours of the night. And so, it plays on that, and it plays around with the sexuality involved in it. And of course, in this case we're talking about sex involving two men. Now finally, sex and advertising, according to Reichert, somewhat paradoxically results as well from what is not shown but what is suggested in some way, such as the outline of a woman taking her clothes off. And you can see this in this particular image where we have a mannequin appearing in the nude. But it is a suggestive image that raises questions about what it would be like for a real woman, an actual woman, to be doing the same sort of thing. Now, after reviewing all of this evidence from the late 1800s to the early 2000s, Reichert concluded that sex in advertising has frequently, but not always, increased consumer interest. And it has often, he says, enga, aided in the selling of products and the building of strong brand identities. However, when he looks at the research fairly carefully, he finds that often, it's equivocal, sometimes inconsistent with other research, and it makes it exstreny, exceedingly difficult to render a clear verdict on its effectiveness. Despite all of this, Reichert does believe that there are some brands, and he names in particular Calvin Klein and Victoria's Secret, that have succeeded in linking erotic appeals with cons, commercial success. This course is a collaborative venture of Duke University and the Advertising Educational Foundation.