As per advertisers, it is sex and violence that sell, but a recent study has pointed out that this may not be right.
The Ohio State University study found that advertisers might do better if the ads themselves have a G-rating, noting that violent and sexual media content may impair advertising’s effectiveness and ultimately deter purchasing.
Co-author Brad J. Bushman said that they found almost no evidence that violent and sexual programs and ads increased advertising effectiveness, but in general, they found violent and sexual programs and ads with violent or sexual content decreased advertising effectiveness.
Bushman and lead author Robert B. Lull found that violence appeared to have the greatest influence but in a negative way. Brands advertised during commercial breaks in violent media were remembered less often, evaluated less favorably, and less likely to be purchased than brands advertised in nonviolent media.
Sexual content had a little influence, but not as much. Brands advertised during commercial breaks in media with sexual overtones were viewed less favorably than those advertised in media with no sexual content, but there was little difference in viewers’ brand memory or intention to buy.
However, while violence and sex attract attention, it’s at the expense of surrounding content that is neither violent nor sexual, according to Lull.
People pay more attention to the violence and the sex surrounding ads, both in programs and the ads themselves, than to the actual products being advertised. Consequently, memory, attitudes and buying intentions all decrease, he added.
The study appears in the journal Psychological Bulletin.