Mallika sherawat once made a very good statement, justifying her show of skin in her movies – “In India, only sex and shahrukh sell!”. Well, it could not be more true. Not too sure of shahrukh khan, but sex surely sells. And who else but the sellers, the advertisers, know best to get it out.
Sex has been employed in advertising since the beginning of advertising. At the beginning, wood carvings and illustrations of attractive women (often unclothed from the waist up) adorned posters, signs, and ads for saloons, tonics, and tobacco.
Well use of sex and symbols and pictures associating with sex, is okay for a lingerie or a condom ad maybe. But how can sex be used to sell cars?( refer Volvo cars with the tagline “We Are Just As Excited As You Are”) Hamburgers??( google for Carl’s Jr. Hamburgers with paris hilton)
We are sexual beings, and we Indians in particular are probably much more horny thanks to the suppressed society we live in. Advertisers use this attribute by trying to associate their products and services with sexy imagery hoping that some of the hotness gets attached to their brand in the consumer’s subconscious mind, thus guaranteeing a good recall.
However abusing your audience’s attention is a dangerous thing. Showing skin to get attention and then trying to sell completely unrelated products like coke! (Coffee I can still understand, but coke??) I would feel cheated and talked down to. Another thing to keep in mind is the amount if nudity sufficient to grab eyeballs and what is too much thus considered offending. How much is good enough?
Well, these are questions without any objective answer and probably it more depends on the openness and the daring levels of the marketing manager, and the amount of risk the company would like to take with the brand.
Mean while, have a look at this Taj Mahal ad targeting the right audience, in the right manner, with very clever use of words.
update: The opening statement in the post, “In bollywood, only sex and shahrukh sell”, was apparently made by Neha Dhupia, and not as mentioned. Thank you P.