Marketers have been using sex as an advertising tactic from day one, but I beg to ask the question, did it ever really work? Did the sex sells tactic show a higher return on investment?

Let’s looks at a few ads from various time periods / mediums and ask ourselves, “Does this ad make me want to buy the product?”

Ad #1

I’m sure it gets your attention, but would it make you buy the computer?

Does Sex Sell?

Ad #2

Here is an example of a TV ad from the 1960s selling aftershave. Would it make you buy this aftershave?

Ad #3

Take a look at this modern day ad for Axe Body Spray. Notice the similarities, but still ask yourself would this ad make you buy this product?

The Old Truth

Historically, ad agencies would tell you that it does and show you some very broad data meant to make you feel warm & fuzzy inside and confident in your investment. Back then, no one could tell you what was being generated towards your bottom line. 

The New Truth

With the birth of Internet and digital advertising, in the form of Google Adwords & Facebook Ads, we can now tell exactly when certain advertisements generate a return.  Using these tools, we can finally test if sex really does sell.

Let’s Take A Look At Facebook Advertisements

Here are some quick Facebook facts:

  1. More than 500 million active users
  2. 50% of active users log on to Facebook in any given day
  3. People spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook

With that many active users, Facebook has become an emerging option for online advertising. Businesses can choose their target demographic and Facebook will display their ad to those users. In this new approach to advertising, can we still find marketers using ads that use sex to sell? Yes.

Over the last few months, I gathered screen shots from various Facebook accounts of ads that speak to this:

Sexy Facebook Ads

But Does Sex Really Sell?

Yes! According to a case study by Jeremy Schoemaker at, more than 60% of users click on the ad that contains a female with cleavage. The researcher showed samples of users’ 5 different pages of Facebook Ads that allotted to a total of over 200,000 page views.

Clicks are great, but did they sell?

In fact, these ads did. Schoemoney generated a number of campaigns with ads using sex to sell. They performed with a high click through rate, but more importantly, the traffic converted into leads.  

What Should You Do?

Does this mean you should start a Facebook Advertising campaign using sexy women to sell? No.  Facebook advertising can be tricky and if you’re not careful, it can get expensive quickly.

However, I suggest you keep this knowledge in mind when you are crafting up your own online advertisement, be it a Facebook ad, a banner display, or a video ad. In fact, it would be best to test this tactic yourself as all marketing efforts can be highly situational.

That old ad agency never had access to analytics and tracking like we do these days. So, take advantage of it; track and test every online marketing campaign for your company. Once you find a combination that generates a strong return, begin testing again to see if you can improve it even more!

Your Experiences

Have you had experience in using Sex to Sell? I encourage you to please share your own experiences in the comment section below or write your own blog post about it.


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