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Sex in advertising & the media Question: Through numerous TV, radio, and print advertisements, individuals are reminded on a daily basis that “sex sells”. For example, an advertisement by the Italian coffee company ,Lavazza, features a woman and a man in intimate positions and surrounded by a sea of coffee beans . How far is too far when it comes to sexual ideals in advertising?


Coffee Ad



  1. Honestly, I think that the media is taking sex avertisement way too far. I believe it all began with the Calvin Klein commercial, nothing comes between me and my jeans. Advertisers need to realize that many different people watch these commercial, and when its always centered around sex, they more so loose consumer’s, rather than attract them. When advertisements, began to show kissing, and touching in a sexual way, I beleive that the line is crossed. No child needs to see anymore. We as a society need to get back to tradition, and have more morals, and better ethics. This nonsense, wasn’t present in the nineties, society has began to accept this, and therefore, advertisers think its okay.

    • I completely agree with Syrena. Didn’t products sell well when we didn’t have these types of commercials? And wasn’t America’s ethics and morals stronger during those times? Yes, yes, yes! Not only is it horrible for children to see, but it is also bad for adults to see too. For example, if a husband sees these types of commercials over and over again, they will start to assert lustful-ness in his heart. Therefore, he may start to desire a younger, thinner woman like the ones in the commercials to fulfill his sexual needs, leading to an affair and unfaithfulness to his wife. There are other reasons too, but this is just one example. America needs to get a stronger hold on its eithics and morals. Businesses and television stations need to realize the things that they have shown to millions of viewers, and also see the bad habits that they are teaching their viewers.

    • I agree with Syrena. The media has begun to take sex advertisement to an extreme. More often than men, women are the subject of sexual exploitation. I do not feel that it is at all right to expose a human body in order to sell a product. Sex in the media doesn’t ever even promote the product. Sexual advertisements peak the interest of a consumer, but not their interest in the product itself, adn that’s when I think sex advertisements go too far. When the product is the last thing on a consumer’s mind when seeing an advertisement, it’s time to try a new approach.

        • cryoclasm
        • Posted October 31, 2009 at 11:54 pm
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        I agree with Lea here, though my example (probably the best one) is The commercials are so obviously geared AWAY from the product (domain names, as well as site hosting) that the consumer is made aware that the ad has nothing to do with the product. The idea is not to sell the product by merit, but piquing the interest of the viewer and lodging the image in their mind. It’s humorous sometimes, but it’s over the top far too often.

    • I agree with Syrena, but also that commercial you rarely see unless its late at night or during a time of day where children are sure not to be able to have access to view it (like being in school or sleep). And I don’t believe that they are going to lose customers, because if you had already worn a pair of their jeans and you liked the way they fit and feel I’m sure your still going to end up buying another part despite how you viewed their commercial.

    • Courtneyandreamcwhorter
    • Posted October 20, 2009 at 3:37 am
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    Although it may sound unusual to admit, sex is useful for selling anything from shoes to desserts. As it stands, I do not have a problem with this sort of marketing skill. Maybe it is because I am a young adult. I am sure if I were a parent I would think otherwise. If I were a business executive I would consider using sex as a form of advertisement because it is the most successful route. People tend to respond to vulgar pictures and advertisements simply for that “Wow factor”. As horrible as that might sound, it is the honest truth. Sex in society is viewed as a taboo adventure and when it is placed before merchandise, the public becomes inquisitive. Now, although sex is a useful marketing strategy, I do believe there should be limits to what is advertised on TV. and the internet. Graphic advertisements should not be shown between the hours of 3 to 9, to prevent the tainting of young minds. Pornography should never be used to sell products; however I think sexual innuendos are harmless. Some people may argue that sexual commercials and advertisements are dangerous to young impressionable minds, but it is the parent’s responsibility to screen what their children watch on television. With the many parental blocking techniques now available, there is just no excuse.

  2. I think that businesses should not try to sell things by using sex as a marketing tool. Unfortunately, many customers do stoop low enough and buy products just because they were advertised with sex ideals. And just because some commercials are limited on what times of the day they can be advertised, it doesn’t mean that children are not seeing those commercials. What lessons are we teaching our children today? Are we teaching them to listen to their hormones when buying things? If so, that ideal can cause more problems than just purchasing items. Children stay up later than they used to ten years ago, and therefore are exposed to these kinds of commercials. I remember a recent Hardee’s commercial that had a very sexual innuendo. A girl was eating a Hardee’s burger, and the sauce was dripping on her body, which she then used her finger to scoop the sauce off of her skin and put it in her mouth. This commercial was playing in the middle of the day, and I was flabbergasted that such a commercial was allowed to be put on the air. About a week later, a sixth grader at my school was talking about the commercial–a sixth grader!! Middle school is the years of hormones, and commercials like these just drive the hormones even further. I think that it is wrong to use sex as a selling incentive, not just because of the potential of children seeing the commercials, but for everyone. I think that if a product cannot be sold by advertising it with a clever, clean, family-friendly commercial, then that product is not worth buying.

  3. Using sex as a marketing tool has gone too far. In the case mentioned, with the brand of coffee, how does sex relate to coffee? These days, there are so many advertisers that use sex to draw people into their product, when sex has nothing to do with the product at all. I think it is just outrageous that this is how they’re getting America’s attention. As ridiculous as it seems though, it has been proven that using sex to market does actually bring in more consumers. Why is this? I think this speaks to the character of America today. Why is it that so many people are so drawn to sexual images? Obviously America has become this corrupt, perverted place full of people that only think of sex. In my opinion, marketers need to find a better way to market their products. This way of advertising is demoralizing America’s youth, which is constantly these images. It teaches young children that it’s okay to be sexual. I think this is wrong.

      • ceciliamvillagomez
      • Posted October 29, 2009 at 8:49 pm
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      Shelby, I agree with what you said about how many products are advertised with sex when sex has nothing to do with the product at all. I remember a comedian who jokes about how funny he thinks Spanish speaking commercials are because of how they are made. They spend the first 35 seconds of a 40 min commercial showing a sexy woman in a bikini walking as though on a cat walk for the last 5 minutes she pulls out a Pepsi. Its ridiculous! I also agree with your opinion on how this type of advertising is demoralizing America’s youth. I remember back when we were little kids that a PG movie was pushing the limits as to what is considered “wrong.” now its G movies that are pushing the limits as well as PG-13 movies. Our society, overall has become used to seeing these types of advertisements that it doesn’t affect us anymore, and that should not happen, its just wrong.

  4. It is true that sex sells. No matter what the product is, it always works. However,it is also true that sometimes advertisers take it a bit too far when they show commercials like the coffee one. There should be a limit as to how much sexual the advertises are, because there are children watching as well as adults. Plus, sex has nothing to with coffee at all! So why does it even have to be used? I understand that when people watch these kinds of commercials, they get tempted to buy those products. But these marketers need to find a better way to sell their products because it is corrupting America and its youth from their morals and integrity.

  5. As time has gone on, advertising has become more and more overtly sexual. It started with innuendos and double entendres and has evolved into what it is today: a far too graphic representation of sex, as seen in this coffee advertising. The reason it progressed like this is because it works. People have many different opinions on what is “too far,” but mostly these opinions have to do with religion and the accepted social norm. In Europe this ad probably isn’t anything out of the ordinary, but American society is more sexually inhibited than most European countries. If you’ve ever been overseas and have watched TV or been to a beach, you know what I mean. I have been Paris and was quite shocked as I was watching TV when I came across some things I was not expecting. I experienced the same shock during the same trip when I went to a beach in Venice. The acceptability of sexual advertising varies greatly from society to society. Different cultures will have different opinions on what is too far.

    • I agree with what you are saying Erin. People in other countries, such as Europe, have billboards with naked people on them advertising something that is a total 180 from what they are selling. However I still do not think that it is right to use that kind of advertising where children can see it, and I know that people in those countries are alot more open about sex than Americans. I just hope that American society never takes sex in advertising as far as those countries do because I already believe that it has been taken to far in some parts of advertising here.

    • Courtneyandreamcwhorter
    • Posted October 27, 2009 at 1:44 am
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    I agree completely with Erin’s reasoning for why sexual ads are more popular in some regions of the world than others. In the past, American society viewed sex as taboo and something that should never be discussed in polite society; however, in the last decade, sexual advertisements have become all the rage. In some ways, I believe America is racing to catch up with the European styles of advertisements. Europe is known for being popular in fashion, cuisine, and vehicles, so of course advertisements will follow. Hopefully America will cease from running this perverse marathon.

    • I agree that the culture has a lot to do with it also.If the companies see that the advertisements are not working then they will have to change them. But since they seem to be working , of course they will continue to use them until they are no longer able to

  6. I find Erin’s point quite interesting. It’s strange to see that what me may think is outrageous in the United States is acceptable to most people in Europe. But I still think that this corruption has been blown far out of proportion. If advertisers are going to be allowed to show this content, can their advertisements not be censored? I know that censorship has always been a big issue in our society because it interferes with the First Amendment. However, if “family” stations are airing these ads that show half-naked ladies marketing everyday products, it makes our youth, which is unaccustomed to that sort of exposure, get the notion that it’s alright to act in that manner. It’s amazing how impressionable a young child’s mind can be, and with marketing the way that it is, I think they’re getting the wrong impression.

    Everywhere we look there are advertisements, shows, and movies that are using sex to sell their products. I admit that it helps in the selling of some products, but there are some advertisements that are taking it way to far. I was in a store one day and I heard a child ask their mother why didn’t the people have clothes on. If for no other reason than helping to keep the minds of young children pure the advertisment companies should calm down with sex in advertising. Also sex in advertising could discourage some people from buying the products. People with strong moral or religious values would see products that are displaying sex on the cover of a magazine or on a commercial and be sickened. The advertising companies are choosing to take the easy way out and use sex to appeal to population instead of using their brains and coming up with a creative way to attract people to their products.

    • ceciliamvillagomez
    • Posted October 29, 2009 at 8:42 pm
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    Unfortunately, it is a true fact that sex sells. In our society today, people tend to look for those sort of advertisements when looking for things to buy. If you look at a popular magazine, such as People, almost every advertisement has a picture of a half naked male or female. To a certain extent these advertisements are effective and I have no problem with them. It is when I have to question whether or not I it is too provocative that I believe that they have gone too far. America used to be a conservative place where pictures and advertisements were not appropriate. Some switch in media production happened that more and more skin was being showed. There are better and more conservative ways to advertise products that they should minimize the sexual advertising.

  8. It is not right that advertisements have become so risqué and I sincerely hope that it does not progress further in our own country. I think that the only thing we can do (as most of us are not CEOs of advertising companies) is to try and censor what we ourselves take in. Parents are also responsible to censor what their children take in. What we see in ads on TV and on billboards affects us a lot more than we think. It can subconsciously influence that way we think about the opposite sex and can slowly permeate into our beliefs, values, and our actions. Everyone has different opinions on where to draw the line. The most each of us can do is safeguard our own belief system and filter what we take in from the media accordingly.

  9. I completely agree with Erin when she said that we should censor what we take in. That is probably the only way to not take in sexual advertising, even if it may be unconsciously. However, because alot of products are sold with the help of sexual ideals, it is starting to become more and more common, and more companies are starting to adopt the practice. Instead of adopting these sexual ideals, telemarketers and advertising companies need to come up with better and more creative ways of promoting their products, because sex is not the only thing that sells.

  10. (Corbin Toler)

    In a daily setting, I don’t really notice how sexual the advertisements are, or rather, that they are offensive. That’s most likely because of the age group I’m in, as well as my gender, both of which combine to ensure that the content of such advertising campaigns will pale in comparison to what my friends and I will talk about in the course of the day. When you isolate the ads and place them in moral, rather than commercial context, you begin to see how they could affect impressionable children. I won’t say that the advertisements are inherently wrong, but I will say that they should be aired later at night. I usually watch Comedy Central until I fall asleep, meaning that I see this year’s Girls Gone Wild commercial anywhere from two to four thousand times per night.

    I can’t call it wrong, because I agree with Brittany. We, as a world population, once held ourselves to a higher moral standard that has been steadily falling away into nothingness. Sexual ads pander to our baser sensibilities, yes, but in the same way that television media sways to our undefinable “train wreck” mentality. It’s a challenge to find a “happy” story on CNN, because tragedy is so much more watchable. The vast majority of humans will flock at the sound of the word “FIGHT!” and few, if any, will attempt to stop it. It’s a horrible standard, but will humans ever lose or repress the thirst for bad news? It would take quite a bit of work.

    All in all, it’s easy to condemn ad companies for making sexual ads, but how many can look into themselves and criticize the fact that they respond to such things? Ads operate by the principle of supply and demand. If we stop responding to the ads, the companies will stop making them.

  11. I honestly don’t really care about the sexual nature of todays advertisements. The only reason companies have these ads is because Americans as a whole will react to them and buy the advertised product. People who get offended at the above ad for the coffee shop should instead just laugh at how rediculous the ad is, as its just people having sex in coffee beans.

    • I agree with john there are plenty of other more important things that people should worry about

  12. I honestly I really don’t pay to much attention to any of the sexual nature that’s involved in most ads. I do know the ones that might have to much sexual nature involved in them the companies wont air them. But its sad that most of our population will react more to an ad that has any type of sexual nature in them other than one’s that just tell the facts. This is some what of a very affective method to get men to buy the products of those companies, but other than that it shows the true nature of Americans. I sure there are some who will become offended by the ads with sexual nature or gestures, but most wont. Then again on the other hand you really do not see most of the ads aired that are sexual until late at night. Most kids do not stay up past 9 because of their parents. So sexual adds are really not something younger children would have to worry about viewing until they reach an age that they are no longer bound by a bed time.

  13. I feel like this generation’s culture is a culture of a sea of advertising. Due to all of the lies we hear due to advertising, we mistrust almost all advertisements. Now, marketing companies do all that they can to make sure that, even though you may not believe what they say, that you pay attention to their advertisement, and hopefully buy their stuff. Sex is something enjoyed by everyone on the planet, so it’s only natural that marketing executives who want money would use it as a ploy to sell a product. I can’t honestly say I’m against advertising, considering many things advertised are things that I enjoy (coffee, for instance), but I do believe it’s rather sad that advertising from the 50’s has evolved into what it has become today (using sex often).

  14. I really don’t pay to much attention to any of the sexual nature that’s involved in most ads we see on tv or magazines. By making a big deal about advertisements and putting it on the news that only gives the products a bigger audience. The only way I would be offended is if my little sister was to see them. But for the mast part the tv channels do a good lob filtering whats good from bad.

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