Sex & Violence! Does It Really Sell?

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We live in the 21st century and things are quite different from when our parents were our age. The cultural norms have changed over time to suit the need for change and have moved into a new realm all together. Ask anyone and they`ll tell you that sex and violence sells but does it really?

Are we living in a day and age where advertisers can prompt us to buy anything as long as there’s a sensuous  female form in front of us? How long will sexual innuendos be hidden behind the veil of humor? In the last few years I have noticed that the advertisements in the West have gotten more revealing and explicit. Thankfully due to our cultural and religious restrictions, such forms of advertising have not been adopted…yet!

It’s not just sex that’s being marketed heavily, its also violence that is being used to create a sense of adventure and excitement and even as warnings. A UK based Department of Health Anti-Smoking campaign which showed hooks in peoples mouths was condemned and authorities and advertising watchdogs received complaints about the campaign. Terms such as frightening, offensive and distressing were used to describe the visuals. I wonder how much of the message the campaign was designed to send across got through to the people.

smokeNATIONAL3004_468x300 Fortunately, there are lobby groups and  relevant authorities in parts of the world  where such objections will be heard and its  made sure that something similar does not  repeat itself.

As most marketing students and those  working in the industry would know, the  main aim is to encourage people to buy by  hook or by crook. Advertising does have  an effect on the people watching them, it  can have a positive impact or a negative  impact. What happens is up to the  advertiser.

Suggestive Ads can have a serve negative impact on society as these Ads are seen by children and adults alike.  Here is another example of violence in advertising. A LEGO ad turned violent. The message with a gun and alcohol are all suggestive indicators which might provoke a negative action.

legoviolencepreview Coming back the Sex, It sells! Be it in  Pakistan or be it anywhere else in the world,  the harsh reality remains unchanged.  However, experts have argued that certain  types of ads which portray women in  violent or sexual positions are demeaning  to women and sexist. This writer tends to  agree with those experts and would  promote a safer form of advertising where  certain boundaries are kept intact.

Working towards making advertising  friendly and safe is a responsibility that we  all have, especially those who are in a  position to make a difference.

Fortunately, Pakistan is safe from such  forms of advertising so far due to our  cultural and religious norms but there might be a time when such things might become normal. It is up to the advertising agencies in Pakistan and the marketeers to make sure we do not cross that line and that the line is clearly defined. I personally know of an agency which created a campaign for an international ice cream brand that was completely based on sexual innuendos for another Muslim country and were shot down. It is the duty of the marketeer as much as the advertising agency to act responsibly.

The ban on cigarette ads on television was an excellent move and I have yet to meet a person who has objected to it.

Note: Due to the commercial nature of this blog, I have opted not to post some pictures as example. The complete set of pictures along with this post can be found here

- Convicted Smoker, Procrastinator and Self-Proclaimed Captain Awesome - Founder of T3 Interactive, I work for tips. - Recently liberated from the clutches of an advertising agency - Working with House of Habib as a Creative Manager In the end, I work hard and party harder...

  • Babar Javed

    A very close friend of mine who can be considered a media veteran once told me that if news reporters KNEW about a terrorist attacj way ahead to the point that their warnings could prevent it – they wouldnt.
    B/c covering a disasters allows you to spike up your rates compared to covering something positive, in this instance it’d be a story of efficiency and strategic thinking. Regardless of the public says, they are to blame aswell. Why is it that people dont watch real honest shows on NGC & Discovery compared to the dramatized & exaggerated stories on the news and TV?
    There are so many answers to that LOADED question but the simple fact is we like excitement even if that means at another expense or loss of family. I can’t comment on the sex aspect of your article as i have no command over the subject. If PMB had a rating system, I’d give this piece a 4/5

  • Omar Khan

    Very true Babar! Where there is no news, they make news! That is something that needs to change.

    Thanks for your comments Babar! 🙂

  • Sarosh Waiz

    Well said Babbar… and that comment of yours gave me an insight … its about time we have an article rating system on PMB .. =) .. good article Omar ..