Debate Task

For the debate tasks we were put into groups of 3 to 4 people and where asked to present a debate on our chosen topic. We will then compete against another group who have the opposite viewpoint to mine. First we will need to make a presentation in our group with images, quotes, information, statistics as well as our own opinion to support our side of the debate, the presentation will be 5 minuets long followed be 5 minute debate after the presentation a long with a class vote on who’s argument was stronger.

In my group there was 4 people: Harry, Amelia, Emily and me, our topic was Sex in Adverting and the Media followed be words from the author Paulina Pinsky “In this day and age, hyper-sexualised beauty standards for women are set by the Media: White, thin, long legs, toned abs, cleavage and big hair. Sex sells.” The sexualisation and objectification of women in adverting and the media is degrading to women and harmful to our culture. Our view was against sex in adverting and the media whilst  the other side was for sex in adverting. When we where first given the project we decided to all go off and find information and statistics to back up our debate and we decided to then meet up the next day to see what information we had all got and to then find the key points we will talk about.

The information I found is below for subjects I could talk about in the debate or in the presentation:

“Context of practice Debate Task

Sex In  Advertising And The Media

It’s no secret that advertisers use sex to sell their products. This catchy marketing strategy has been popular since the 1900’s and is showing no signs of slowing down. Recently, more brands have adopted this strategy and now numerous products ranging from clothing to fast-food employ some form of sexual content to promote their product. The level of sexual content can range from nudity to sexual innuendos depending on the brand and who is being targeted. It’s becoming more popular to see commercials containing sexually explicit content that targets just women. These commercials not only  use sex to sell their products,  but often women are being objectified and taken advantage of in advertisements by being presented as this “fantasy element.”

Commercials for products like Axe body spray are leading examples of brands that claim to provide sex-related benefits. Usually these commercials feature a guy, typically between the ages of 18-26, using this Axe Body Spray then automatically achieving a higher social status and becoming this “chick magnet.” Billboards and print ads that display sexual encounters are more likely to not only catch your attention, but are more memorable. Calvin Klein displayed a billboard in New York that featured a topless foursome wearing nothing but a pair of Calvin Klein Jeans and laying in a suggestive manner. The racy nature of his ad caught the eye of many customers and it suggested that by wearing Calvin Klein Jeans, they would achieve this level of sex appeal as well. This ad was later removed from the streets but not after causing much controversy.

It’s obvious that sex sells, but the question that lingers is why sex sells and what audience sex appeal mainly targets. Sexually explicit content is present for both genders; however, it is especially worse for females in advertising. Advertisers hope to capture the attention of potential buyers by showing a half-naked woman in a seductive post. In 2005, Paris Hilton was featured in an ad for Carl’s Jr. advertising their latest burger, the Superstar.  Dressed in a seductive bathing suit, Paris Hilton held a juicy burger in her left hand as the wind blew threw her long blonde locks. Advertisers hope by featuring a sex icon like Paris Hilton who embodies the beauty and sex-appeal many people desire, that it will draw customers in and increase sales.  Advertisers intentionally try to appeal to the male audience by presenting this “fantasy element.”

The mystery of using sex to sell products is a very complex subject. One must ask who the sex is being sold to? If it was simply that sex sold, we’d see men and women equally sexually objectified in popular culture. Instead, we see, primarily, women sold to men.  Lisa Wade, a writer from the Society Pages, states that “we’re selling men’s sexual subjectivity and women as a sex object. That is, the idea that man’s desires are centrally important and meaningful, and women’s are not because women are the object to men’s subjectivity.” There are more ads featuring attractive women in a suggestive nature, rather than attractive men in ads. If sex sold simply to everyone, we would see a more even pattern of sexual content in the media pertaining to both genders, but we don’t. “More often than not, it is women who are sexualized. What is being sold, really, isn’t sex, but the legitimation and indulgence of men’s sexual desires (Wade 1).”  Women are often the key element in advertisements featuring sexual content. In most cases, women are portrayed in a degrading manner which is absolutely unnecessary. According to UCLA researcher, Callen Gustafen, “Using attractive women in ads results in higher visual recognition and recall as well as enhances ad-like, product-like, and purchase intent for men.”  Sex appeal is used as a way to allure guys who are attracted to women like Paris Hilton and women who aspire to look like her.

Unfortunately, outdated stereotypes are often factored into advertisements incorporating sex-appeal . Women used to be viewed as the homemaker and their main responsibility was to cook and raise the children.  Alice Sargent, author of Beyond Sex Roles, states that “Taking care of the house and the children are considered the most important concerns of any woman.”  As the culture changes in society, so does the social perspective and social norms. Nowadays, women are more independent and many have their own career. However, the stereotypes surrounded around women still remain, even though they are very much inaccurate.  Women were once viewed purely as a homemaker, now they are viewed as sex objects which is just as harmful.

Just as harmful as lingering stereotypes is the fact that many times attractiveness becomes a large factor in how we treat people. Many times our society values a woman based on “the degree of attractiveness they possess as determined by the standards set by Hollywood and Playboy,” (Gustafen 1). Hollywood stars are often idolized and admired for their glamorized appearance and stunning attire.  Men are often infatuated with women in Playboy or in Hollywood, and women often aspire to look like them. Because our society values attractiveness so highly, we tend to set predetermined notions about people judging them solely by their looks. Attractiveness and this “fantasy-element,” are directly related to a woman’s appearance.  Ads that degrade women are becoming an issue of social injustice. Objectifying women has becoming such a norm in advertisements that it is often looked past.

Advertisements that incorporate sexual aspects are further engaging and entertaining, especially when they present a “fantasy element”. However, despite the fact that they are engaging, customers should be aware of the fact that these advertisements are degrading and objectify women. Exploring the origins of gender-stereotypes and gender theories provides background information about why this marketing strategy is so effective.  Companies lack originality which causes them to emphasize the sexual aspect of women in a degrading manner. Researching a deeper analysis of sex-roles and stereotypes from a psychological standpoint helps explain why sex-sells, which audience it targets, and how it triggers customers into buying their product. In order for women to maintain their dignity, it’s not only imperative for companies to respect women and eliminate sexually degrading, but it is also the consumer’s responsibility to be aware of these ads and to not purchase products that use this marketing strategy.

You’ll hear the phrase often when you enter the advertising industry: SEX SELLS. But is that true? Do people really buy a product just because it has sexually stimulating imagery attached to it? Is the general public aware of the triggers being used to attract them to certain products or services? And more importantly, do they respond to it regardless? Let’s take a dive into the murky waters of sex and advertising.

What Is Sex in Advertising?

Simply put, sex in advertising is the use of sexually provocative or erotic imagery (or sounds, suggestions, and subliminal messages) that are specifically designed to arouse interest in a particular product, service or brand.

Typically, sex refers to beautiful women (and increasingly, handsome men) that are used to lure in a viewer, reader or listener, despite a tenuous a non-existent link to the brand being advertised.

Throughout History, Sex Has Been Used to Sell.

It’s been said that as human beings, we have a lizard or reptilian brain that responds to certain primal urges. Food is one. Sex and reproduction are others. This underlying, pre-programmed disposition to respond to sexual imagery is so strong, it has been used for over 100 years in advertising. And the industry, while abusing it more and more, would be foolish to ignore the draw of sexual and erotic messaging.

Back in 1885, W.Duke and Sons, a manufacturer of facial soap, included trading cards in the soap’s packaging that included erotic images of the day’s most popular female stars. The link between soap and sex is slim at best, but it worked. And ever since, brands have purposely linked themselves to suggestive (or downright blatant) sexual imagery in the search for new customers.

In particular alcohol, fashion, perfume and car advertisements have created strong links with sex.

So, does sex sell?

Yes, sex sells. It’s a fact. Popular men’s magazines like Maxim and FHM have experimented often with their covers. Overwhelmingly, when a sexy, semi-naked woman appears on the cover, it outperforms an image of a male star, even if that star is someone men want to read about.

When ads are more sexually provocative, men in particular are irresistibly drawn to them. It’s simple genetics. Men respond to sexual images. And if your ad creates a sexual situation, it will get the desired response. However, that doesn’t mean it can sell anything. There must be context.

Sex Can TURN OFF Customers

There’s a fine line, and all too often these days brands are stepping way over it. Consumers are human, they will respond, but they’re also smart, well-educated people who will soon realize that they’re being manipulated.

People may buy your product one or two times due to the erotic interplay, but if the product isn’t any good, you won’t hold onto the customers for long. Not only that, they’ll feel cheated, talked down to, or outright patronized. And that will take a much greater effort on the part of the advertiser to regain that trust.

At the end of the day, sexual imagery may attract a certain demographic to your product or service, but there must be a legitimate tie. Even beer brands are starting to realize that.

First, some history

Erotic advertising isn’t exactly new. After all, the adage “sex sells” had to come from somewhere.

“Since there have been men buying, there have been ads using women as the bait,” says M.J Rose, advertising expert and founder of AuthorBuzz. “Sexist and demeaning advertising isn’t something new—it is in fact the oldest ploy in the book.” For example, Calvin Klein made headlines in 1995 with a series of ads that used very young-looking models posing in what seemed to be a basement.

The sad thing is that while this kind of advertising was controversial a few years ago, it’s par for the course nowadays. In an era where American Apparel is pushing the boundaries of good taste and creepiness on a regular basis (warning: NSFW), brands are starting to push the boundaries further and further.

“I wish it weren’t so, but it’s a way to get attention—and even negative attention is attention,” Rose explains. “The more crowded the playing field, the more outrageous the ads tend to get.”

Science weighs in

Sure, this kind of provocative advertising is memorable. But is it actually effective? Do viewers really remember the name of the brand behind the burger strip tease, or do they simply have images of Paris Hilton running through their head?

A surprising number of studies in recent years have responded with a resounding, “No.”

Sex doesn’t sell.

  1. Sexy ads don’t help improve brand recall.

This info comes from a 2007 study conducted for the University College London by Ellie Parker and Adrian Furnham titled “Does Sex Sell?” According to the study, “There was no main effect of advertisement type on brand recall suggesting that the presence of sex in advertising does not assist memory for the advertisement.”

2. Audiences generally don’t like it when you use sex to sell a product.

According to a study of Super Bowl ads by University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire researchers Dr. Rama Yelkur and Dr. Chuck Tomkovick, racy ads are not appreciated on television—especially during a family event. Around 30 percent of Super Bowl ads in 2010 and 2011 included sexy images, and those with sex in them were rated much lower by viewers in places like the USA Today Super Bowl Ad Meter. “We found that the more sexual content there is in a Super Bowl ad, the less people like it,” Yelkur said.

3. Okay, sometimes sex sells. But only when the product is actually used for sex.

“Sex sells, but only if you’re selling sex,” explains Jeffrey Richards, advertising professor at the University of Texas. Sexual commercials make sense if the product they’re advertising is, say, condoms. But if not? Consumers might be titillated, but they’re not going to remember your company name.

4. When sex does sell, it mostly only sells to men.

The researchers in “Does Sex Sell?” state that sex is only a useful advertising tool when selling to men: “Males recalled sexual advertisements better and females recalled non-sexual advertisements better.”

Does sex sell? The effect of sexual programme content on the recall of sexual and non‐sexual advertisements

This study looked at the recall of sexual and non-sexual television advertisements embedded within programmes, with or without, sexual content. It was predicted that there would be a detrimental effect of sexual programme content, and a beneficial effect of sexual advertisement content on ability to recall advertisements. Further, when programme and advertisement content were congruous (i.e. both sexual), this also would hinder recall. Participants aged between 18 and 31 were placed in one of four conditions and were shown either ‘Sex and the City’ (sexual programme) or ‘Malcolm in the Middle’ (non-sexual programme) with sexual or non-sexual advertisements embedded in each. Participants were then asked to recall advertisement details from the advertisements. The results indicated that there was a main effect of programme type, demonstrating that sexual programme content hindered recall of advertisements. However, there was no main effect of the type of advertisements seen (sexual or non-sexual) on recall, nor was there a negative effect on recall when programme and advertisement content were congruous. An interaction between advertisements and sex of participants showed that males recalled sexual advertisements better and females recalled non-sexual advertisements better. Limitations of the study are considered. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.”

When we meet up the next day we all found a lot of information what was useful as it gave us lots of information we could you in both our presentation and debate. we then decided that we would all pick one topic to talk about during the presentation and make our own slides. The topic I decided to research was that The sexualization of girls in the media is also linked to common mental health


I then wrote what I was going to say during the presentation.

Here is what I said:

The point that stand out to me is that

The sexualization of girls in the media is also linked to common mental health

A report of the American Psychological Association (APA) found evidence that the ever-growing sexualized images of girls and young women in advertising and media is harmful to girls self-image and healthy development.

The consequences of the sexualization of girls in media today are

very real and are likely to be a negative influence on girls’ healthy development, the APA has lot of evidence to conclude that sexualization has negative effect in a variety of different ways such as mental health and eating disorders etc. By showing provocative images in the media in a sexualised and objectifying way a person confidence their own body can diminish, which can lead to emotional and self-image problems that can be with a person for life. Some of these problems could be stop if we stop showing women in such overly provocative ways in nearly every avenue of adverting. By doing this it will help not only young people but any age range realise that you do not need to look like the images that are advertised and you can just be yourself and that the way in which men and women are advertised is not right.

The statistics are shown on the screen (read them out)

Other topics that where talked about was Influence the media has on the younger generation, The Objectification of Men and Photographers and companies that advertise sex and then showing images of provocative images and why it is not right.

Click the link to see our presentation

Sex in Advertising and the Media Debate

I think my group was very prepared for this debate and was excited to see what the opposition had found.Sadly when it came to the debate our opposition did not turn up which meant that we only did the presentation and automatically won. However we did have a small debate with the rest of the class and it was interesting to hear everyones opinion. I found this task very revealing and an interesting topic to debate and I would love to debate this topic or another with an opposition next time.