Using Sex in Small Business Marketing

By: Dan Kennedy on: October 22nd, 2009 5 Comments

Sex in small business marketing has long, long been used, for a wide variety of products, appealing to men, and to women.

It can be subtle “ like Cadillac’s woman driver: the question slyly asked by the sexy woman: when you turn your car on, does it return the favor?

…overt “ think after-shave ads.humorous “ people my age remember football star Joe Namath in pantyhose.

…branding “ think Playboy, think GoDaddy’s Super Bowl commercials…think Hooters.

Southwest Airlines original launch was fueled by sexy stewardesses in hot pants in its ads and on its planes. It preceded by the airline slogan said by stews: “Coffee, tea or me?” Racy for its time. Sexy images are often used as attention getting devices, as channel surfer stoppers. The amount of skin shown, the explicitness of the images may seem more libertine now vs. then, but considered in context of everything else in the society of any given time, the images and language in the advertising of the time match it.

What does this have to do with you?

There is abundant research proving that including photographs of attractive women, in many cases, attractive women somehow attired or posed in sexually suggestive ways; in other cases, attractive couples, attractive men improves readership of ads or mailings. There is newer research indicating it has deeper penetration, creating bio-chemical, physiological response governing buying behavior, price/fee resistance, risk tolerance, etc. (reported on briefly in last month’s issue).

Advertising is, after all, about stimulation and seduction. Ignoring this, failing to incorporate it into your advertising is as foolish as omitting headlines or offers.

Let’s talk about one sex-to-advertising transfer. In the strange how-to-pick-up-women world, now an industry unto itself rife with how to courses and seminars, inhabited by gurus like “Mystery” (as seen in his own reality TV show) and old-timer Ross Jeffries (Speed Seduction). Chronicled in the brilliant book THE GAME by Neil Strauss there is the concept of peacocking.

Borrowed from the flamboyant bird “ it is the male peacock all painted up and prancing about with its colorful tail spread – the advice to men is to dress in some highly flamboyant way or with some attention getting accessory such as large hat and maroon velvet coat or pocket watch on gigantic gold chain or walking stick with diamond-encrusted gold leopard head as its handle.

The less cartoonish application of idea might be the George Hamilton suntan-of-suntans and light tan summer suit in, say, Wisconsin in dead of winter or arriving at the very casual, neighborhood bar in an obviously expensive, custom tailored suit, crisply pressed white dress shirt, colorful silk tie, shoes polished to a mirror finish.

The idea is to attract the attention and arouse the curiosity of the women within range by daring to stand out in such an obvious way. A way that requires unshakable confidence, a way that invites criticism, ridicule or disapproval thus conveying the extremely attractive,” I don’t give a damn what anybody thinks” positioning.

Of course, few can actually pull this off, but for those who can match their actual attitude with this presentation, it works virtually without fail.

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    Dan Kennedy is internationally recognized as the 'Millionaire Maker,' helping people in just about every category of business turn their ideas into fortunes. Dan's "No B.S." approach is refreshing amidst a world of small business marketing hype and enriches those who act on his advice. For more money-making marketing tips, tactics and strategies, go to

    5 Responses

    1. Rob Anspach says:

      …great article …

      I just dont want you and Bill dressing up in drag or wearing speedos to try to sell us the sex appeal of Glazer Kennedy.

    2. I am in the room right now with some of those select few — at our October GKIC Chicago & Northwest Suburbs Chapter Meeting!!

    3. I find it fascinating what makes one person more attractive than another. I know the facial and beauty analysts try to tell us that the more average, ie. eyes – not too large, not to small, not too wide apart etc will govern a more attractive response to someones face, male or female.

      I feel it goes a little deeper than that. Somewhere in there is a universal standard of beauty and when we see it, we respond differently to that ideal.

      Take the Miss Universe pageant, and consider the grand range of difference between the contestants. They are all beautiful, but even there you will find yourself comparing one against the other to come up with your own winner, regardless of who they finally choose to take the crown.

      Sure Dan there is the breaking concentration factor of a sexually charged image but at the heart of it, I believe the craving for relationship has perhaps the strongest pulling power of all, which just maybe makes sex in advertising so powerful, be that a good or a bad thing.

    4. I love the strategy. Like Dan says, it stops you in your tracks, gets your attention, and then basically drives you to the website to get more of what you just got.

      I think it’s brilliant! I’m not sure how to use it my business, per se. But, brilliant nonetheless.

      Craig Valine

    5. Jim Rowe says:

      My first restaurant is a Buffalo wing joint our first usp “hot wings, hot chicks, cold beer” makes me want to go there right now.

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