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Sex: everyone's at it

Sex is a marketer’s dream come true. It’s the ultimate aspirational commodity, and whether you admit it or not, everyone is interested, regardless...

Sex is a marketer’s dream come true. It’s the ultimate aspirational commodity, and whether you admit it or not, everyone is interested, regardless of age, race, gender, geographical location or sexual orientation. It is truly universal.

Over the years, sex has been, and continues to be, used by consumer brands to sell any product or service known to man (or woman) – from houses to ice creams and everything in between… although with varying levels of subtlety. All too often, it’s seen as the common denominator, with brands resorting to ‘cheap-and-dirty’ creative as a crass way to make an impact, enraging guardians of society’s moral well-being and in turn undermining the marketing industry.

But while B2C is the worst offender, B2B marketers shouldn’t feel smug, as discussed in our May cover story, they too have used sex to sell – it’s been around as long as the promotional pen.

The use of sexualised imagery is less blatant in B2B – which isn’t quite the same thing as it being more subtle or sophisticated. Often its use is fleeting, such as featuring an attractive man or woman, dressed respectably in business attire, obviously, discretely in a product shot. In other instances it’s a small shimmy away from outright pornography.

Despite the potential for controversy, the reality is that B2B brands would be foolish to reject the power of sex: the challenge is to find a way of using it that enhances rather than undermines the brand promise. This can be easier said than done.

Quite how sex in B2B evolves through digital media is open to question. On one level, image-based creative is more restricted online due to formats. But as we all know the Internet is a pornographer’s paradise – in other words, sex works very well online.  

Formats will continue to evolve, and its use may continue to be guarded, but make no mistake: sex in B2B is here to stay.

 

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