Approval of advertising sexual content highly variable


A survey from AdweekMedia/Harris Poll found that there is too much sex in advertising, and that there is not too much sex in advertising. The answer to that question hinges to an extent of the age of the person asked, but the bigger predictor of the answer is the person’s gender. Women say yes, men no.

Overall, 56% say they are bothered by sexual content in advertising. But only 39% of men agree with that statement, while nearly three out of four women – 73% — believe it to be true. But not to make a mountain out of a molehill, only 25% are very bothered, compared to 32% who are merely somewhat bothered. 37% are not bothered at all (53% of men and 21% of women agree with that), and 6% are unaware of any sexual content in advertising.

We suspect that most of you will not be surprised to learn that the level of perturbation increases as respondents age. Only 46% of 18-34s are very or somewhat bothered. The number increases to 50% for 35-44s; 60% for 45-54s and 66% for 55+.

Of the minority not at all bothered by sex in advertising, a plurality thinks the level is about right. 55% say that. The more or less subgroups are almost equal, but with another huge gender divide. 22% want more – that includes 28% of men in the group, only 6% of women. 23% want less – a group including 17% of men and 37% of the women.

RBR-TVBR observation: Advertising has a lot in common with other art forms in that it demands a very high level of creativity. But whereas the goals of works of art are myriad, the goal of advertising is admirably simple: move product (or service). If you are good enough to figure out a way to use some form of sexual content in order to get people to buy denture adhesive, we say go for it!