Sex In Advertising

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e first instance of the deliberate use of sex to sell a product was by the Pearl Tobacco brand in 1871, which featured a nude woman on the package. In 1885, W. Duke & Sons planted raunchy cards into their packs of cigarettes that featured sexually provocative material. Inevitably, Duke went on to become the leading American cigarette brand in 1890.

Other early forms of appealing to the audience through the use of sex in advertising are woodcuttings and graphical illustrations of stereotypical attractive women (often nude from the waist up) on the cover of posters, banners, and advertisements of tobacco, guns and salons. Looking into several cases of importance, sex in advertising has shown a direct correlation with increased consumer interest
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Calvin Klein once said, "Jeans are about sex. The abundance of bare flesh is the last gasp of advertisers trying to give redundant products a new identity." The brand’s first controversial jeans advert showed a young 15-year-old girl named Brooke Shields wearing the exotic jeans and claiming: "Want to know what gets between me and my Calvins? Nothing." The brand has also received negative media attention for its controversial promotion of it’s products in the mid-1990s. A lot of the brand's advertisements showed pictures of teenage models, some who were speculated to be just 15 years of age in extremely sexual and erotic manners. Despite the company insisting that these advertisements were not pornographic or erotic in nature, the campaign was considered by some as a form of soft porn or the promotion of casual sex in association with the product. In 1999, the company got into more heat from the media when advertisements of young children wearing just Calvin Klein underwear and nothing else aired on international television. This advertising campaign was removed from television only one day after it aired as the backlash from the public was immense. A spokesperson from the company insisted that these advertisements were aimed to capture the same warmth of something that is present on a family shot.

Benetton, an Italian clothing company gained worldwide notoriety in the late 1990’s for its “raunchy” advertising, inspired and spearheaded by the art director Oliviero Toscani. He started with multicultural imagery and blended them together in the campaign "United Colors of Benetton" which then turned into something extremely provocative with interracial ‘couplings’, and bizarre sexual pictures such as a nun being sexually involved with a priest.

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