You have probably been persuaded to buy something after seeing an advertisement. The ad might have appealed to your sense of masculinity or femininity, or maybe it attacked your senses by showing you a delicious cheeseburger right around lunch time. But maybe the marketing team behind the ad dug deeper and tapped your sex drive? We’ve all heard it before: Sex sells.
For decades, that’s been gospel. But, as it turns out, it might not actually be the case. In fact, all of those hot babes eating Carl’s Jr. hamburgers haven’t translated into inflated profits for CKE Restaurants — at least not as expected. New research from the University of Illinois seems to confirm it. According to a new study, sexy ads aren’t nearly as effective as once thought. In fact, they can actively backfire on the brands using them to market their goods and services.
“We found literally zero effect on participants’ intention to buy products in ads with a sexual appeal,” the study’s lead author John Wirtz said. “This assumption that sex sells — well, no, according to our study, it doesn’t. There’s no indication that there’s a positive effect.”
But that’s not all. Wirtz said people were more likely to have a negative attitude toward brands using sexually charged ads more than anything. So perhaps you’ve been having the opposite of the intended reaction to many brands without even realizing it.
We took a look at some companies that use sex to sell more than most, and you can gauge for yourself whether you have a negative or positive association.
1. Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s
Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s are the same restaurant, in case you didn’t know. They simply operate under two different names depending on where you are in the country. And they like to sell hamburgers using some hypersexual advertisements. There have been several over the past few years, but the company has announced plans to start utilizing other marketing strategies.