Sex in advertising

Is it just me or has advertising gotten considerably racy?

In a recent September issue of Details Magazine there was a photo of a model wearing a dress by Michael Kors and a necklace by Tiffany & Co. In the advert, the models one bare breast was exposed.

The advertisement got me thinking how more and more companies are increasingly willing to push the boundaries for commercial gain.

Although it has become known that sex sells, how much is too much sex in advertising?

Calvin Klein

Calvin Klein Ad

A company, well known for basing their advertisement on sexual appeal, is Calvin Klein. Calvin Klein’s advertising campaigns have been causing controversy since the 80’s. Calvin Klein is not shy when it comes to using sex to sell their products.

Several years ago Calvin Klein came under fire for their advertisements, which featured images of teenage models, some reported as young as 15 in sexual and provocative poses.

Abercrombie and Fitch, the company once criticized for their production of thong underwear, which were targeted at girls ages 7-14 is also well known for their provocative advertisements.


Axe is a brand of male grooming products marketed towards young males. Have you seen an Axe ad lately? When it comes to sex, Axe sells it.


(Men, do you really buy your fragrance based on what one is going to get you the most sex?)

Advertisers are going too far

Of course there is a point where sexual marketing goes too far.

America Apparel advertisements make Axe seem almost G rated. I find America Apparel ads extremely sexually explicit and offensive.

In 2008, American Apparel ran a nude advertisement (pubic hair and all) featuring porn star Sasha Grey. The offensive ad was apparently trying to sell socks. Do you really have to go that far to sell some socks?

Last fall an American Apparel advertisement was banned in the UK by the ASA for using a partially nude model, who appeared to be under 16.

Even food chains are using sex to sell

Burger King advertising

Last year Burger King released an advertisement for their “Super Seven Incher” that sparked controversy. The ad was prepared for Burger King’s Singapore franchisee. (source:

Sex sells, but how much sex is too much?

Your thoughts?

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