18 August 2015

Sex! Violence! Advertising Addendum

How about a little sex and violence with your fashions? (Ad from Dolce & Gabbana on multiple websites)
Did the title of this blog post grab your attention? How about the opening photo? Even if they did, you’ll probably just glance at the other photos, read a sentence or two and move on, leaving this addendum to last Friday’s blog post Advertising Cosmetics unread and unappreciated.

I can take it. But I don’t think advertisers can. You see, that’s sort of what happens when their ads or the media where their ads are placed--print, television, movies, video games--feature sex or violence. At least that’s what a recent study from Ohio State University found.

Meta-Analysis of Sex and Violence in Advertising

The researchers performed what’s called a meta-analysis. They statistically integrated the separate results of 53 different experiments to identify patterns and relationships that might surface by combining the multiple experiments.

Those 53 experiments had been conducted over the course of 44 years with 8,489 participants. Each had examined some aspect of whether media or ads with sexual or violent content helped sell advertised products. The meta-analysis sought to determine the general effects of sex and violence on the advertising outcomes of brand memory, brand attitudes and buying intentions. 
Another sizzling fashion ad from Dolce & Gabbana. (Multiple websites)
The study found:

-Brands advertised in violent media content (e.g., during commercial breaks) were remembered less often and evaluated less favorably and were less likely to be purchased than brands advertised in nonviolent, nonsexual media.

-Brands advertised using sexual ads were evaluated less favorably than brands advertised using nonviolent, nonsexual ads.

-There were no significant effects of sexual media on memory or buying intentions, and there were no significant effects of sexual or violent ads on memory or buying intentions. In fact, as the intensity of sexual ad content increased, the memory, attitudes and buying intentions decreased.

-Although memory and buying intentions improved when the ad and media content were similar (e.g., a violent ad on a violent program), violence and sex never helped and often hurt the effectiveness of the ad.

Sex and Violence Don’t Sell

It seems that advertisers are at least half right if they think sex and violence attracts attention and sells. People do pay attention. The researchers judge that people pay so much attention, they miss the advertiser’s message. 

Yep, this ad gets my attention. Message? What message? (Multiple websites)
Would you be surprised to learn that men pay more attention than women and that older participants are more turned off by violence and sex than younger participants? No, I didn’t think you would.


Ohio State University study in Psychological Bulletin:
Articles on study on Time and Science Daily websites:

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