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Carl's Jr fast food advertvia YouTube

Apparently sexy, violent ads don’t work

A new study reveals that they just make the viewer forget what's being sold to them

Turns out all those bizarre ads you saw in the 90s featuring lots of boobs and much less context never really worked after all. Forget everything you’ve heard. Sex doesn’t sell. In fact, it’s an exceptionally terrible way to advertise.

A new study published in the Psychological Bulletin found that sex and violence actually distracts viewers, making them less likely to remember the product that being flogged.

The Ohio State University researchers revealed that sexual and violent emotional cues demanded more cognitive resources than less emotionally arousing cues, meaning there was less brain space to process what the ad was selling. Interestingly, as the sexual content in an ad increased, the audience’s brand memory, attitudes and buying intentions all decreased. Someone, somewhere is getting shouted at very loudly right now.

“It never helps to have violence and sex in commercials,” said co-author Brad Bushman, professor of communication and psychology at OSU to Bloomberg. “It only hurts or has no effect at all.” 

The researchers conducted 53 experiments including 8,489 participants and found that these types of ads were viewed less favourably than your average non-violent, non-sexual advert. Ultimately, they had no impact on the consumer’s memory or desire to purchase the advertised product. They don't serve their singular purpose whatsoever.

“75 per cent of the context for an ad during a typical television program is not just the other ads – it’s the program itself,” said the study’s other author Robert B. Lull to CNBC. “If the program is likely to especially draw audience attention at the expense of attention to the ads, the ads won’t be as effective. 

Looks like advertisers may have to reach a little deeper in their bin of buzzwords and do a little better than "naked", "guns" and "punching".