What are the pitfalls of using sexual imagery in advertising?


The use of (typically female) nudity and sexuality in advertising copy dates back to the 1870s. Today, the images may look a little different, and are often somewhat more explicit — but the role that sex plays in marketing communications remains fairly unchanged.

Sexual imagery can grab attention and, depending on how it is represented, imbue a promoted brand with qualities of desirability, sensuality, youth, vitality and indulgence. This is more typically utilized by high fashion and luxury brands, as well as indulgence foods such as ice cream and chocolate. The use of sexual imagery in advertising can also convey the effect (direct or otherwise) that a product or service will have on the users' attractiveness to the opposite sex.

A good example is the Lynx brand in the U.K. After years of conveying sexual imagery in its advertising, the brand has a sexy, fun and playful personality.