ETHICS IN ADVERTISING: SEX SELLS, BUT SHOULD IT?

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ETHICS IN ADVERTISING: SEX SELLS, BUT SHOULD IT?
Jessica Dawn Blair, Sam Houston State University Jason Duane Stephenson , Sam Houston State University Kathy L. Hill, Sam Houston State University John S. Green, Texas A & M University ABSTRACT The purpose of this paper is to discuss whether or not it is ethical to use sexual appeals in advertising. The study also examines (1) if sex actually sells and if so, when and where is it being used in advertising, (2) the use of men and women in ads of a sexual nature, and (3) the role that ethics plays in the use of sexual appeals in advertising. It is important because it not only focuses on the use of sexual appeals in advertising, but also how ethical it is to do so. The study found that sexual appeals are used often in advertising. Sex does catch people's attention in advertisements, but usually without much brand recognition. Women have been the primary focus in sexual advertising in the past and present, but men are starting to be used more often as the sex object in advertisements. Ethics plays a definite role. There is no clear view of what is ethical and what is unethical when it comes to advertising, but with careful consideration and planning, it is possible for advertisers to find a common ground and use sexual appeals without offending people in the process. INTRODUCTION As stated by Richmond and Hartman (1982), "Every media consumer is alert to 'sex in advertising.' Its pervasive use and misuse are constantly before us, and typically elicit strong criticism" (p.53). As one can see, the use of sex in advertising has been happening for several decades and the reason for it? – It works. Advertisements that are sexy in nature tend to be remembered more often than advertisements that are not. The question to ask, though, is how ethical is it to use sexual appeals in advertisements? This research paper will discuss whether or not sex sells, when and where sexual appeals are used in advertising, who is the...
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