What does sex in the media really do? Is it just a selling tool or does it affect us in a greater way? Networks are paying more than they used to for the best time slots and the more risky they can make their commercials the better. For example, advertisers paid $2.3 million for a single 30-s ad airing during Super Bowl XXXVIII (Sutel, 2004). As you can see advertisers truly think that sex is the key, TV and film producers believe it and the internet was built on it. But does sex really help sell products? Parker and Furnham (in press) decided to test whether sex really does sell using an experiment with a total of four conditions.
In the first two conditions participants watched an episode of 'Sex in the City' specially chosen for it’s even higher than normal sexual content. The show was based off a woman named Charlotte and how she was panicking about her ‘bed-manner’ when her lover Dr. Bram Walker dozes off in bed once after his hard day of work. She decided to take a tantric class. The class is given by hands on demonstrations by a couple of psychologists.
In one of these two conditions participants were shown ads with high sexual content (e.g. an ad for Budweiser). In the other the ads had low sexual content (e.g. one for Fosters lager).
Then, in the second two conditions the TV programm chosen was Malcolm in the Middle, also a comedy drama, but one that is suitable for the whole family. The ads embedded in this again either had high or low sexual content. After watching the program participants were tested for their recall of the ads. The results were not what they were looking for. There was no significant difference in 'brand recall' between the adverts that used sexual content and those that didn't the sexual content of 'Sex in the City' actually reduced the recall of the embedded adverts. Actually, surprising and counter-intuitive as this finding may seem, the