Women Hate Sexy Ads, Unless They’re for Something Expensive

Posted on December 12, 2013

Women are turned off by sexually explicit images in advertisements. Unless, that is, the item being advertised is very precious. And valuable. And rare. Like, maybe, a once a year type gift.

At least, that’s the findings of a new study by an international group of marketing professors. Kathleen D. Vohs, Jaideep Sengupta and Darren W. Dahl used made-up advertisements for watches to test a theory in sexual economics that women want sex to be seen as something special, or at least not cheap. Sexual economic theory is “probably the least romantic theory about sex you’ll ever have learned,” says Vohs, who’s a researcher at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. “Countries, cultures, and individuals treat female sexuality as if it has value and is precious.”

Women who saw the sexually explicit cheap watch ad responded to it negatively; they were upset, disgusted, unpleasantly surprised or angry. Women who saw the sexually explicit pricey watch ad were less negative. (This might explain why there was little backlash over Charlize Theron’s seductive ads for Chanel, but there was over Danica Patrick’s racy ads for GoDaddy, a discount website hosting platform.) When the ad had the image of mountains, women didn’t seem to favor either watch.

For the men, the price of the watch did not change the way they rated the sexually explicit ads. Whether the watch was intended for men or women did not change the results either. This might explain why magazines that have tried to create premium porn haven’t really found their audience.

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Source material from Time