Sex sells part 3: Opportunities and Pitfalls

The last two days I have been writing about using sex as marketing for your production or website, as a matter of attracting attention. In part-2 I also mentioned that it is very important to now your audience very well to know how to use it to make sure it is not offending or actually damaging the product.

Sex is an amazing asset to a marketing campaign; and again I do not mean pure nudity or pornography, I mean sexuality and sensuality in its subtlety and triggering a fantasy in which it might be related to your production, the way Axe, Victoria’s Secret and Nivea might use it (and the many fashion designers).

But besides the many pros to using sex as a marketing feature, there is a major con too. Sexuality tends to be blinding. It is very difficult to balance on the fine line you should draw of where to go and where not when using sex in your marketing. If you use it too little, the marketing campaign relying on it might not have the required impact. But using it too much might kill the whole product right away. Finding this line is extremely important, and stay your course.

On my own website, at, we actually decided to just use it slightly by working together with a model who is more or less the ‘face’ of the company. Too many IT companies are showing ‘artsy’ and ‘in touch with the world’ or ‘nerdy’ people.  But for an online company, it is in the end not what makes it work, but how a user perceives the product. It is like buying a car. You want to know about the engine, but in the end it is the performance and the looks that makes it work for you, not the thought about the robots creating it. The same thing goes here in our site, we want to show that it is about the freedom that you get, the hint of something attractive. One of the reasons we work with a model and with photography; it is not about who we are, it is about what we can deliver.

On the other hand, we also own a photo studio, which you can find at www.cantanopy.comwhere everything is completely different. Since we are not selling ‘our studio’ but using it more in other productions, we actually put the sensuality deeper in the content, not so much in the immediate look and feel. Showing a sexy photo is what most photo studios do, and our target audience is here the companies who already decided working with our company and needing a photographic solution; the ‘sex’ was already in the first site, here we need to show that we are solid.

The other target audience for this site are actually models that we work with or who want to work with us. This audience isusually posing for these kind of photos, you don’t buy them with ‘sex’, because they know it is the product. They need to have the idea it is a professional studio, reliable and that is the major ambiance the site needs to spread. The photo’s are simply examples.

So these are two examples I can offer you from my own portfolio and how I use it. But as I have experienced it more often, when companies want to incorporate ‘sex’ in their site, it is very difficult for them not to adjust their requirement of amount of ‘sex’ in it. Because it is intoxicating, during presentation it is easy to ‘want more’. It is like seeing a sensual photo but then wanting more. That is the power of sex in marketing, but also the pitfall. It is exactly this ‘tease’ and the wanting for more that makes it so powerful. But if a manager or a project owner ‘demands’ that more simply because he/she is persuaded by it; it is a big problem sometimes to say NO.

But if you deliver ‘more’, a campaign can go from teasing to trashing. Your product might be related in the media or with your clients as trashy, over done, not-classy. And it can simply damage your company, even killing it.

Don’t underestimate the power of sex in a marketing campaign. If you keep playing by the rules and information in the last three blog postings, you might understand that sex is a state of mind, it is a tease, a perfectly balanced way of attracting someones attention to your product, and want them to want more.

Also, don’t think it is not fit for certain target areas. Even religious productions, medical, scientific or corporate productions can absolutely benefit from it. As long as it is designed with the correct target audience in mind. It does not mean showing off a human body in full nudity, or accenting certain body parts or poses. It can be the look in someones eyes that the audience might feel attracted to, a sexy smile, a message that is extremely subtle, but is enough to get people interested and wanting.

Doing it well might be very rewarding for your audience, but in the end; for you.


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