In a recent multivariate test, Cosmopolitan magazine found that increasing the focus on sex in a promotion drove sales down by 22 percent.
This bears out my own experience. I was once in charge of marketing advertising space to the trucking industry. My predecessor, convinced that all truckers were male and straight with but one thing on their mind, created a campaign showing a not particularly clad woman over the woefully classless headline, “I’m ad-vailable.”
(It was interesting to hear the company’s leaders, self-professed religious icons, rationalize having let him do it. Especially when they told me that the buxom model in the photos was 15.)
My first official act was to nix the sexually oriented ads and create new ones that talked about — how’s this for a breakthrough concept? — salient features and benefits. Arguably less sexy, both figuratively and literally, the new campaign doubled sales overnight.
Unlike my erst employer, Cosmo at least had an excuse, as they were marketing a product with sexual content. Still, as they discovered, there is such a thing as overdoing it in a promotion.
If your product has nothing to do with sex, infusing ads with sex won’t help. In fact, it may drive sales down. As you arguably deserve.