Red carpet. Gorgeous celebrities. Skimpy gowns. The Academy Awards presentation showcases the glitz and glamour of our entertainment industry. As the second leading TV event of the year, it’s intriguing to see which advertisers—if any at all—use sexual appeals to speak to the 40 million or so (mostly females) who tune in to the event.
Not to be disappointed, sexual content was present among the three big “C” advertisers (cars, cosmetics, and clothing). Unlike the Super Bowl, however, there were no babes in bikinis or disrobing Danica Patrick in the lineup. Sexual content was subtle and obtuse. When targeting women, sexual appeals are more apt to emphasize benefits such as enhancing one’s attractiveness or self esteem. The top four ads containing sexual content were no exception.
4. L’Oreal. Just about any L’Oreal commercial aired last night qualifies. Again, while not overtly sexual, physical attractiveness can be an important component of sexual content. These spots featured sex symbols such as Heather Locklear, Eva Longoria, and Andie MacDowell extolling the benefits of looking beautiful (with a little help from L’Oreal).
3. JC Penney’s “American Living” brand. At least five spots served to introduce Penney’s new Ralph Lauren line. These slice-of-life ads, meant to reflect “Americana,” included some embraces and deep stares, and a young interracial couple. On the creepy side, one spot set in the forest featured a few kids on a bed.
2. Cadillac CTS. We’ve referred to this spot in a previous post. The ad—airing for a few months—features "Grey’s Anatomy’s" Kate Walsh purring: “When you turn your car on, does it return the favor?” As noted, it received a favorable rating from Ad Age’s Ad Review and Bob Garfield; one of the few examples of sex in advertising he’s liked.
1. "Dancing with the Stars” promos. The network promos speak for themselves; as they promise a “steamier” and “sexier” season than before. Not to disappoint, one of the two promos aired a few seconds of provocative dance moves. A clear example of “truth-in-advertising.”
Although we’re stretching it a bit, honorable mentions go to attractive models demonstrating the utility of Crest White Strips and a few dance moves in a JELLO swirls spot.