A new study conducted by the American Psychological Association shows that the long believed notion that sex and violence sell is not actually true.
It is true that sexual and violent programs pull larger audiences than neutral ones, but a larger reach does not necessarily translate into more sales for advertisers.
The researchers examined the effectiveness of advertisements embedded in sexual and violent programs as well as advertisements that contained sexual and violent content. They looked for impacts on memory, attitude towards the brand, and the buying intentions of the viewers.
Memory was significantly compromised for brands and ads embedded in programs that contain sex, violence, or both. There was no significant effect on memory for advertisements that contained sexual or violent content, but they did find that memory decreased as the sexual content intensified.
Attitudes towards brands embedded in violent programs were significantly less positive than they were towards brands embedded in neutral programs; attitudes towards advertisements that contained sexual content were also significantly less favorable than towards neutral advertisements.
Buying intentions decreased when brands were embedded in programs that contained sex, violence, or both, but they were not significantly affected by advertisements that contained sex or violence themselves.
Overall, this study discovered that sex and violence either have a negative impact on advertisements or no impact at all.