does sex sell?

here I hope to post my favourite ad! the piggy-eyed girl, advertising ice-cream near egoist cafe

Here, in Bulgaria, everybody seems to believe that The-Thing-That-Sells is sex. Uniform beauty, practically naked, is touted to sell best. Ads do not have to be funny anymore. The message seems to be “I am pretty. I am longing for sex. Buy the product and I’ll make it with you. You’re not craving sex with me? Are you sure you’re OK?”.

At the beginning at least there was some joke in the ads. Vodka Flirt used to by hyped by some implicit messages about passionate sexual experience, e.g. bruised knees, “She said she had fallen down the stairs”, etc.

Then it evolved into a series of ads presenting sex as the dark temptation you cannot resist, the mysterious sin you cannot help committing. Some angels of ambiguous sexuality were featured with a heterosexual couple. “Are you prepared for tonight?” meant “Are you prepared for a dose of dark sensation which is part of your nature?” There used to be something special about the occasion, no matter whether it was meant to be celebrated on a daily or weekly basis.

Well, today Vodka Flirt billboards sport a blonde in black underwear and widely open legs. No more suggestions, no implications, no hide-and-seek, no play, no ambiguity, no ambivalent human nature. You are shown in no uncertain terms the exact location where you should place your most precious body part.

I was thinking of just painting or punching a little hole on the billboard, but it would seem to revert to metaphor somehow. A hole would be the intersection of the abstract and the representational that sets your imagination free. You might place a body part there or have your soul squeeze through it to nirvana, or both.

Imagination?!? Oh, come on girl! You’re in Bulgaria! You cannot afford being subtle here. You won’t get the message across. The magic image is ladies’ breasts. Explicit! They should remind men of their true nature, of the real meaning of their lives. They should remind women to go on a diet and work out in the gym as their purpose is to help men in their sacred mission on earth. They must exude sex on any occasion. As for male images? Athletic men doing sports? Too good-looking, sorry! We hate homosexuals here. Well, you could sometimes show men watching soccer on TV – that’s what real men are supposed to do. As we are now Europeans, guys are drinking beer and watching the match in the pub, not having affectionately slapping their property on the buttocks while being served rakia and shopska salad in the living room. As for ambiguous angels, Azis reigns without a rival.


7 responses to this post.

  1. […] Ето защо после започнахме да обсъждаме тема за секса в рекламите и дали наистина продава. Затова и написах нещо в ученическия си блог. Ако ти се чете на английски, заповядай тук. […]


  2. I agree that sex has different close-ups.It can be seen/shown in different ways.And,of course,the main purpouse in ads is to sell..To have an effective ad,you must consider carefully who is gonna buy your product

    What I want to say is the ad depends on the client.If I sell my product si a country where the half of my potential clients watches every night Big Brother and the next day they comment what do penio said to zdravko or somebody and If penio is a boy or a girl or both otr none,I would choose the appropriate type advertisement to impress these clients,to make them happy.

    easy people-easy ads


  3. Posted by vekster on May 12, 2007 at 4:24 pm

    The truth is that sex sells well. Take for instance the chalga-without 3 main parts: f-singer with underwear+bed+expensive car this music will not sell well at all. I think that only ads for cleaning products for example washing powder etc can sell without sex. However, sex is obligatory part of every ad of cosmetics.


  4. That’s a very interesting point of discussion today, I suppose…

    In my opinion sex really sells, it sells everywhere and quite a lot. It is just a matter of historical timelines and specific culture of whether sex is implicitly present or explicitly… With the advent of advertising as a tool for persuasion, sex was there…it was just shown by revealing a woman’s ankle or other “sexual parts of the body” for that time… today’s shift is towards a woman’s breasts… still sex connotation but a lot more explicit

    for those who think that maybe only highly utilitarian products such as ovens, fridges and washing machines are the ones which sell a lot without making sexuality connotations – this is kinda wrong…( – check out the new ad campaign…it is really a bit implicit but still…sexuality connotations are quite present even there)…

    for those interested further I have kinda profound analysis of this Whirlpool’s ad campaign. The main focus in this analysis is actually sex in advertising… looked from psychological, visual and textual angle…

    now I am actually considering whether I shall upload this paper in my blog…but it is kinda too long – 30-40 pg. ….still if someone is interested…please…. 🙂


  5. Plamena, cannot you attach a file, so that we can download it instead of copy-pasting it? You could just write a line or two to tell people that it is a paper and the topic is bla-bla 🙂


  6. yes…this is actually the best way to do it I think…
    Here’s a link for the document…
    The thing is that I do not know for how long it will be kept in the online storage…

    Does sex in Advertising Sell? How? And for what type of products? (a research paper on an ad campaign of Whirlpool…)

    – psychological perspective
    – visuals and influence on consumers
    – text, rhetoric and the way it works



  7. I’ve been always mildly annoyed by all them boobs in bulgarian ads. Not that I don’t like naked women but nudity is hardly the way to make me buy a new mobile phone. From what I see around the world though there’s only one more thing that sells as well as the image of a naked young woman and that’s the image of gilled cheese. It’s just that simple: people react to food and sex. And the ads are targeted at the majority of people. Can you blame the 50-year old guy who after 10 hours at work actually enjoys the view of a 20-year old lady on his TV screen?


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