Monday, August 30, 2004

People Getting Bored With Sex in Advertising

Study urges less sex in marketing
By Gary Silverman in London
Published: August 29 2004 18:00 | Last updated: August 29 2004 18:00

Young urban trendsetters around the world are growing bored with sexually explicit advertising and can be better reached with more wholesome marketing appeals, a new study says.
The study by HeadLightVision, a trends analysis arm of marketing company WPP, suggests that many young adults are tryingto reclaim their innocence through “play...silliness and family-style togetherness.”
Examples of the trend include the popularity of bingo and board games at trendy bars, the embrace of childlike fashions, and respect among young people for “computer geeks” and skateboarders.
The agency says advertisers should respond by playing along with the younger set, emphasising feelings of nostalgia or kitch, or crafting commercials that are seductive rather than explicit.
“I think there is a boredom with the obvious,” says Crawford Hollingworth, chief executive of HeadLightVision. “You can get a numbness to sexual language and imagery.”
HeadLightVision, which counts Coca-Cola, Ford, Diageo and Unilever among its clients, based its study on interviews with cutting-edge young people in London, New York and 14 other cities. Although hardly a scientific study, the report adds to the evidence of consumer unease with sexual advertising. Other examples include the commercial difficulties of US beer makers, such as Coors, which ran advertisements laden with male sexual fantasies.
Matthew Hirst, who wrote a chapter of the report, called The Suggestive Modern World, said that the ubiquity of sexual images had deprived sex of the mystery it once had. Mr Hirst said that young people were trying to “recapture the thrill of sex” by focusing on flirting and “the lead-up to the act”.
Even the the phenomenon that he called “strip club chic” fitted into the pattern, he said. “It's not sex it's suggestion,” he insisted.
Mr Hirst said that a “less-is-more” philosophy would work for advertisers, as well. He suggested that some companies should limit access to their brands to give consumers a chance to feel as if they discovered a product themselves.
Another idea, the study says, would be for advertisers to build places for consumers to play games.
“It's nice to go back to a place where life was simpler,” explained Mr Hollingworth. “The faster your world becomes and the more complicated it becomes, the more you will love things that are uncomplicated, slow and playful.”