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Sexual Consumerism: A Case for Advertising Essay

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Updated: Feb 28th, 2022

Sexual themes have been used as an aid to the advertisement in providing business success. Sexual consumerism refers to the practice of adopting specific sexually appealing ideas to entice customers into buying a given product (Tissier-Desbordes & Visconti, 2020). The representation of newspaper adverts, television programs, music, and Internet ads with sexually appealing messages is more common with the media in contemporary society. As such, identifying the use of sexual consumerism in public media characterized by the presentation of sexually appealing adverts is key in explaining the current advertising as an emerging issue.

The history of sexual advertising is attributed to the human revolutionary period that saw people adopt the ‘sex Sells’ idea to lure a larger public into impulse buying (Keller et al., 2020). Sexual advertising is also known to have originated from the influence of certain fashion modeling that exposes the skin, chests, breasts, and light and free clothes, revealing an individual’s nudity (Larimo & Pesonen, 2020). For a long time, the effect of incorporating sexual themes in creating brand loyalty has been a controversial debate. The 19th-century generation, for instance, embraced sexual advertising on the Internet to a lower extent suggesting their little approval of nude images as a marketing strategy (Choi et al., 2020). The current generation, however, has overemphasized the adoption of erotic signs as a marketing tool. This is evidenced in many aspects, including video platforms, television promotions, and the music industry. For instance, the current social media platform depicts a high level of sexual advertising with many ads mostly associated with erotic appeals.

The effects of sensual attractions can be explained using two contrasting opinions. The first viewpoint considers sexual images to present negative implications on the social order of a society. For example, the current advertising platforms, including public ads, email advertisements, print media publications, and program advertisements, are commonly associated with information full of sexual themes. Such information is considered to be disruptive to the behavior of the general population. Sexual promotions are also conducted on an exploitative sexist nature. For example, the images of beautiful-looking women have been used to drive their male counterparts’ unconscious minds into buying products without their conscious consent (Aylsworth, 2020). On the other hand, women have been used as sex objects, with many seen to expose their bodies or nudity to represent product promotions in creating brand equity. For example, the beauty and fashion industry use good-looking and fancy ladies to develop a sexual inadequacy on the male gender, exposing them to the excitement for sexual acts. Sensual images have, therefore, corrupt people’s thoughts into impulsively buying goods or are enslaved into buying to advance the goals of many firms that maximize their profits out of erotic selling.

Adverts promoting sexual enhancing products, such as Viagra, have a greater impact on adolescents’ indulgence in sexual practices (Aylsworth, 2020). These products give a wrong impression to satisfy an individual’s sexual lust when bought. Television advertisements are also more rampant in sexually teasing people with the representation of sex scenes to attract others into watching television programs. On the contrary, other views approve of the use of sensual advertisements. Such notions rely on the current civilization in explaining human progress. For instance, sexual drives have been used to define an individual’s level of intelligence in judging between right and wrong and choosing the desired course of action in any conflicting social situation. As such, addressing the implications of erotic signs must harmonize the two contrary ideas on the controversial debate of sexual advertising.

The legality of either of these opinions is still in question, with sexual advertising seen as a matter of moral right or wrong. The legal systems have not instituted an explicit legal course of action in addressing the endemic effect of sexual advertising (Jiménez et al., 2020). However, the law restricts the level of use of sexual themes as a promotional strategy. Most policies outlaw the adoption of full nudity to represent an advertisement. Despite the existing laws, and overstated form of sexual advertising is still manifested in the public domain, with major ads depicting partial or close to nude images.

The adoption of sexual consumerism to promote the sale of products attracts certain implications on the social order of society. The use of sexual themes in representing major advertising activities, for instance, draws several issues in the public domain. Social media ads have been seen to promote exploitation along the lines of gender. For example, the male gender is unconsciously driven by their sexual desires into impulse buying. The female gender has also been used as a sexual object to represent erotic ideas. The use of sexual advertising presents a moral implication in judging the appropriate use of sensual advertising. Despite the legal laws protecting any misuse of sexually appealing advertisements, the legal policies have not effectively addressed the effects of sexual advertising. Many individuals still exaggerate the use of sexual attraction as a strategy to promote their products resulting in social discourse.


Aylsworth, T. (2020). Autonomy and manipulation: Refining the argument against persuasive advertising. Journal of Business Ethics, 1-11. Web.

Choi, H., Yoo, K., Reichert, T., & Northup, T. (2020). Feminism and Advertising: Responses To Sexual Ads Featuring Women: How the differential influence of feminist perspectives can inform targeting strategies. Journal of Advertising Research, 60(2), 163-178. Web.

Jiménez, D. L., Dittmar, E. C., & Portillo, J. P. V. (2020). Self-regulation of Sexist Digital Advertising: From ethics to law. Journal of Business Ethics, 1-10. Web.

Keller, M., Walker, M., & Reutner, L. (2020). Supplementary materials to: Social Psychological Bulletin, 15(1). Web.

Larimo, J., & Pesonen, A. (2020). Advertising in Central and Eastern Europe: A Case Study of Nestle television advertising in Russia. In Petr G. & Chadraba, R. (Eds.), Business strategies for economies in transition (p. 199). Springer.

Tissier-Desbordes, E., & Visconti, L. M. (Eds.). (2020). Gender after gender in consumer culture. Routledge.

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1. IvyPanda. "Sexual Consumerism: A Case for Advertising." February 28, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/sexual-consumerism-a-case-for-advertising/.


IvyPanda. "Sexual Consumerism: A Case for Advertising." February 28, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/sexual-consumerism-a-case-for-advertising/.


IvyPanda. 2022. "Sexual Consumerism: A Case for Advertising." February 28, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/sexual-consumerism-a-case-for-advertising/.


IvyPanda. (2022) 'Sexual Consumerism: A Case for Advertising'. 28 February.

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