Sex Sells? Actually It Doesn’t, Study Says

The same goes for violence.

Sex doesn't sell? Somebody better tell Carl's Jr. and Hardees. (YouTube)

Sex doesn’t sell? Somebody better tell Carl’s Jr. and Hardees. (YouTube)

Sex sells right? Wrong.

A study by researchers at Ohio State University argues that highly sexualized advertisements actually distract the viewer from the product being featured. The same goes for violence, they say.

That sure seems counterintuitive considering that companies sure seem to be using sex in their ads more than ever before: See Scarlett Johansson‘s controversial SodaStream ad, Go Daddy‘s racy (and expensive) Super Bowl commercials, and all those Carl’s Jr. & Hardees ads featuring supermodels eating huge hamburgers.

But the study, published by the American Psychological Association, found that sex and violence don’t actually sell. Researchers made that conclusion after conducting 53 experiments involving 8,489 participants.

“Analyses found that brands advertised in violent media content were remembered less often, evaluated less favorably, and [were] less likely to be purchased than brands advertised in nonviolent, nonsexual media,” said the report. “Brands advertised using sexual ads were evaluated less favorably than brands advertised using nonviolent, nonsexual ads.”

In fact, the researchers found that “as intensity of sexual ad content increased, memory, attitudes, and buying intentions decreased.”

The researchers were Brad Bushman and Robert Lull (who is now at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center.)

Nerd out on the study here.