Sex Stopped Selling Years Ago

The old adage that “Sex Sells” has been the entertainment moguls’ mantra for years now. It has justified barely-clad beauties on screen, billboards and TV commercials since the 1980’s. A recent study by the American Pyschological Association featuring nearly 9000 participants revealed that generally speaking, the average consumer is more put off by violence and/or sexual content in advertising and media and this is not the first of their publications to say so. A quote from a 2009 study describes the point.

Analyses of 914 films released between 2001 and 2005 indicated that sex and nudity do not, on the average, boost box office performance, earn critical acclaim, or win major awards. Although female involvement does influence a film’s content, the only impact on the presence of sex and nudity is the proportion of women who make up the cast. Notwithstanding statistical complications, the best conclusion is that graphic sex neither sells nor impresses.

However, while the data makes it clear we are generally unimpressed by the inclusion of sexual content, it is unclear why that is. It may be that Sex Sells was more wishful thinking than an actual representation of what the public demanded. But given the continued rise and popularity of the porn industry, that is unlikely. More likely it is that, as a culture, Western society is viewing sex and violence differently. Violence, especially, is not idealized given the media saturation of real time wars. More connected than ever, we no longer wait for the 6 O’clock news to hear what was or was not bombed overseas. We get minute by minute updates on our phones.

On the sexual side of advertising, as a whole, we are becoming more and more accepting of sexuality, and as mentioned early, porn is huge. So it would stand to reason that we should love sexy ads and nip-shots in our movies. However with an increase in body positive campaigns and push against “unrealistic standards” it may be that we are just tired of seeing what most of us will never look like. (Or, in most instances, what the models don’t even look like after the digital altering the images undergo.) If we want sexual content we have the tools to seek it out on our own terms. We, generally speaking, don’t want it thrust upon us without cause or invitation.

For more information on just how sexy sales needs to be contact us at Sultry Dish.

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