Sex sells

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has noticed the increase in racy ads on TV. Advertising and sex have been tied together since advertising really took off as a business. Sexually suggestive images are used to sell just about anything.

From the AXE campaign, the Lifestyles Skyn campaign, Clearasil, Herbal Essences, Carl’s Jr. to Guitar Hero, soft-core pornography is taking over family room TVs.

Is this appropriate? Necessary? Ethical?

These ads are directed toward teens or young adults. Is this really the image we want teens and young adults to see?

I can see both sides.

Yes: These ads are attention-grabbers

I’ll give ‘em that. Many of these ads depict real-life situations that teens and young adults face daily. Some argue that’s the entire point to these ads – to tell the audience that they’re not alone in what they are experiencing and there are healthy solutions.

For example, the new Lifestyles advertisement promotes safe sex and responsibility. However, the images used are extraordinarily graphic. Another however, the graphic images definitely grab the attention and have good intention.

Recently, MTV has been campaigning for everyone to get tested for STDs. They aired the movie Pedro, a story about a Real World contestant who later died of HIV. There have also been several advertisements for the Gardisil shot – the vaccine that prevents certain types of HPV, the most common STD among sexually active girls and can cause cervical cancer. These moving and sometimes uncomfortable messages are extremely valuable for people of all ages to hear.

The fact of the matter is that these issues are prevalent in today’s society. And, unfortunately, the age at which these ads become relevant decreases each year. When I was 15 things were different. And that wasn’t that long ago.

But the other question is: Should we be putting these graphic images into young minds?

This is similar to the debate about sex education in schools. Some argue that teachers should be realistic and teach how to have safe, protected sex. While others argue that schools should teach abstinence-only.

For me, abstinence only teachings seem a bit…let’s see…old fashioned. These days, kids are losing their virginities way earlier than we might think. It’s scary, really. Teaching that abstinence is the best policy is a good idea, but offering safe-sex options if one “chooses to forgo abstinence” is crucial.

However, these advertisements don’t exactly help the “abstinence is best” argument. These racy ads depict incredibly graphic sex scenes that can only put dirty ideas into young minds.

Should they only be offered on cable stations like HBO or SHOWTIME?

Who knows.

Honestly, the only solution to the issue at hand lies in parenting. It ultimately doesn’t matter whether your son or daughter has seen the racy ad on TV. What matters is if their parents have already talked to them about sex. If they’ve already opened the gateway to communication and made it okay for their son or daughter to talk to them about “uncomfortable” or “taboo” topics. That is what’s important.


Here are a couple links to the advertisements mentioned above. Viewer discretion is advised :)



Herbal Essences


Carl’s Jr.

Guitar Hero


Like it? Share it!
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookPin on Pinterest

1 Comment

  1. There’s also movies that play a part of this. A lot of movies these days are rated PG-13 and the movies with the same kind of content would have been rated R in the mid 90’s. We also have a movie like “Watchmen” that would have most certainly be rated NC-17 for its themes and nudity but now is just rated R.

    I think the real source of the semi pornographic images shown on TV, whether in commercials or in shows themselves, is the internet. New competition, new mediums bring new risks and advertisers are taking risks.

    However, there still are limits. They watered down the Eva Mendez Calvin Klein commercial because she showed to much so there still are limits. At least for now


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>