Does Sex Still Sell?

We look at successful companies like Go Daddy and every time we see a commercial we almost forget that they are selling domains, but it is no question what they are doing to sell their product?  So the question remains does sex sell and if so, are there any downsides to using sex to sell products and services?  Do the “boring” products and services require scantily clad men and women to be successful?


Sex doesn’t sell. Attention does! Getting people’s attention is the ultimate goal of putting attractive people in front of products to sell them. You can get attention by making loud noises, running around naked or flashing bright lights, but your product still has a lot of selling to do. It’s easy to gain attention, but now you’ve got an even bigger issue on your hands.. how do you earn the customers trust? Successful companies are good at gaining attention and earning trust not just one or the other.

Thanks to James Bailey!


To answer the question – of course sex sells. Let me give you a different context than TV commercials, and that is the female salesperson whose specialty is selling into male-dominated industries via the “Short skirt and heels’ method. It’s possible that the reverse (Men selling to women) works too; I’ve just neither experienced or seen it. In this context, the ‘skirt and heels’ method works – up to a point (if you need more evidence, attend a pharmaceutical sales convention). There is a specific downside, however – customers who need serious guidance tend not to take the ‘pretty’ salesperson seriously, especially if that salesperson has not established skills and expertise. There’s a lot more to say on this subject, but I would prefer to do so in an interview or even an email Q&A format if you’re interested.

Ultimately, the key to real sales success has to do with making your product less boring by focusing on customer benefits.

Thanks to Troy Harrison!

Sex only sells when it comes to prostitutes and porn. Titillation is not needed anymore in online and TV and in newspapers and mags it is just boring. We can get off anyway we want now Remember that marketers are selling to the generation who INVENTED hype. They want content, a reason to care, and something even slightly substantial worth talking about. Go Daddy just continues to look sexist and stupid, and ultimately downmarket! I’m the author of Punk Marketing and speak about marketing in the teens every week for groups around the world. I have more to say obviously. Let’s talk!

Thanks to Richard Laermer!

In brief, yes sex still sells. It always has and probably always will. I am an internationally recognized artist and designer who is primarily known for my drawings and sculptures of dancers–many nude or nearly nude. While many artists are suffering in this economy, I am doing well…. over the decades I have developed a unique way of depicting nudes in a sensual, yet tasteful manner. I continue to do illustrations for books and magazines, commissioned sculptures, etc….Sex just for the sake of sex only sells sex. To sell products, the sex must be fun, tasteful, cleverly interwoven with the product, etc. It must be part of a larger message.

Thanks to Pablo Solomon!


Unfortunately sex does sell. Sex is a basic human need, and people are drawn to scantily clad bodies whether they admit it or not. The financial power of the porn industry, which makes more than the NBA, the NFL and Hollywood combined, should be evident of that. However in today’s market, where consumers are bombarded with thousands of images on their computers, phones and TVs, you have to find a way to break through the clutter and an image of a half naked woman will do that, as seen in the Go Daddy and the Carl’s Jr ads. In both cases, these are products which are predominately targeted at men, so there is little risk that female consumers will be offended. The problem with these ads is that people often remember the ad and not the product. Everyone remembers the ad featuring Paris Hilton washing a car, but how many people remember what she was advertising? Also, did the ad correlate to more sales? However it may have increased brand recognition of Carl’s Jr. There is a certain group of advertisers who believe that if people are talking about your product, then you have achieved your goal. However the use of sexuality in advertising, does send mixed messages. People condemn pornography, but then Madison Avenue uses sex to sell everything from food to cars. Pornographic images have become so mainstreamed that you can barely tell the difference between porn and advertising these days.

Thanks to Manmy Otiko!

Image: Simon Howden /


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  1. We at Rocky Flats Gear make Pro-sex, Anti-Child Porn and pro-health fig leaf x-ray protective underwear. Your privates are private and keeps your "junk" from glowing under airport scanner radiation. Many people are concerned about health and strangers peeking at things they should not. is a great site! Jeff

  2. Sex is the one thing we all have in common, no matter what race, size, age, or nationality. It is the common thread between all human beings and that is why it is so intriguing! Sex grabs attention, raises eyebrows, offends, and shocks…and opens up the checkbooks! Sex still sells, and it always will. I am using it to sell my product, which is an organic, superfood-injected aphrodisiac pill for men and women. My edgy, raw marketing campaign has caused quite a stir within the health food community, which is exactly why we've gown faster than any libido supplement on the market today.

    Julie Wilson

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