Impact of sex appeals in TV advertisement
Muhammad Imran Wazir, PhD
Assistant Professor &Coordinator QEC,
Institute of Management Sciences (IM|Sciences),
1-A, Sector E-5, phase-VII, Hayatabad, Peshawar Pakistan.
Ezaz Ullah Ezaz (Co Author)
Assistant to Director Research & Development
CECOS University F-5, Phase VI-Hayatabad Peshawar.
Contact No: +923025957110
Impact of sex appeals in TV advertisement
The purpose of this study is to know about the attitudes of the viewers towards
the sex appeals in advertisement and to know whether these appeals are
acceptable in Pakistani society or not, and to know whether attitudes developed
by the sexual advertisements leads the same attitude toward the brand and
purchase intention or not. The study found that the viewers do not like the sexual
appeals in TV advertisements. The data has been collected from 150
respondents of Peshawar, in which 54 were females and 96 were male
respondents. After showing different sex appeal advertisements, respondents
were given a questionnaire to fill. By using collected data the study found that
there is significant inverse relationship between sex appeal advertisements and
attitude towards the showed advertisement (Aad), and the found results lead to
the attitude towards the brand and purchase intention. The findings will help the
national and international companies to modify and make their advertisements
according to the consumer preferences.
Key words: TV advertisement, sex appeals, consumer preferences, brand
Advertisement is an effective communicational tool used by the marketers to
attract the potential customers. The television viewers are bombarded with
different sort of advertisements and continuously faced with mass media
messages and advertisements from the television, radio and internet. The
exposure of customers and viewers to such sort of mass media has great impact
upon thinking, values, purchases and actions (Jan, 2005). To attract the potential
customers, marketers use sex appeals practices in advertisement.
In broad sense sex appeals are defined as the messages, and brand
information in advertisement which exposed sexuality (Tomet al., 2001). Sex
appeals in advertisement may be found in verbal elements, visual, sound, and
portray varying degrees of nudity (Gould, 1994).
The advertisement with sex appeals are attract more attention with lasting
memorability and interest, as compared to the non-sex appeals in advertisement.
As compared to the non sexual advertisements (Ads), sexual advertisement are
more likeable and more apt to increase the interest in related topic.Therefore,
most of the non profit organizations use these appeals for different awareness
purposes. Because of the saturation in the media environmnet, getting proper
attention in the message is more important (Reichert et al., 2001).
Both men and women have some possible moral concerns about the use of
overt sex appeals in advertisement, and they react differently to diverse form of
advertisement (LaTour et al., 1990). Research confirms that response to sex
appeal advertisement are specific to the target audience rather than universal
(Mittal and Lassar, 2000). Asian countries specifically with muslim cultures, are
most conservative regarding sensual gratification. So the advertisement,
packaging and products must be of muslim standards.
Most Companies are using sex appeals in advertisements in different countries
knowing very little about the responses of consumers to those appeals in that
specific culture (Liu et al., 2009). Due to the increasing usage of sex appeals in
advertisement in recent years there is extensive literature in Western countries
on the evaluation of sex appeals advertisement. However, very little research has
been conducted on sex appeals advertising in Asian countries like China (Liu et
al., 2006). Although, different international brands are flooding in to Pakistan, so
the research on the Pakistani consumers is inadequate.
Most of the ads contains young age models which shows that they are targeting
young age college male/ females. When young female adults compare their
level of attractivness with those showed models in the ads, in most cases they
will percieve negative discripency between their own and of models
attractiveness (Richins, 1991).
As Pakistan is becoming more attractive market for the international brands,
and because of extensive competition among the brands, the usage of effective
advertisement is needed to attract the potential customers. But the question is
that either they should adopt local advertisement strategy or global
advertisement strategy ? To answer such a managerial question the companies
must should know that how the Pakistani consumers respond to different
Kalliny and Gentry (2007) reported some similarities and differences between
the Arab and U.S cultures. Despite all the similarities between the two cultures,
the advertising agencies should pay attention to the differences. The
advertisement produced in one country should not be placed in any othere
country in the same manner because of the culture differenes. The advertiser
should pay attention to the cultural values, because these values are directly
related to the social and religious values and going againt those values will be
very offensive, which may leads to create a negative perception toward the brand
Attitude toward the advertisement has been founded as an intervenient in the
process through which advertising influence attitude toward the brand and
purchase intention (MacKenzie et al., 1986).
Nudity is one of the most controversial aspect that differ the European
advertisement from the advertisement in the muslim countries. In western
culture, nudity is being used unlimited, for example underwear ads,but nudity is
totally forbidden in Muslim cultures. In this aspect islamic culture is very
conservative. However there are even some muslim countries, like UAE where
the sexual advertisements are acceptable, but the country like Pakistan having
strong commitment with the religion and social values.
The study of Henthorne and LaTour (1995) reported that the use of high nude
appeals in print advertisement may not be percieved as morally right or culturally
acceptable to viewers. The lack of moral equity in advertisement, results in
directly negative feelings of the viewers towards the advertisement and indirectly
towards the brand.
The globalization trend are adversely affecting the traditions and culture of the
Pakistan. If the advertisers do not change the advertisement style then it can
worsen the ethical and moral values of Pakistani society (Usman et al., 2010).
ISLAMIC followers found the advertisement of gender/sex related products,
social/political groups and health and care products most offensive relative to
other three religions (Buddhism,Christianity,Non religious believers). The religion
was founded as an element of the culture that have an impact on the every
aspect of the society. Therefore, the marketer should never underestimate its
importance (Fam et al., 2004).
The ongoing telivision advertisement is unethical because of the emphasis on
sex appeals Khattak and Khan(2009). It was found that most of the respondents
showed very significiant negative feelings about the social consequences of the
current telivision advertisement and they demand the changes by the regulatory
To understand the positive and negative reactions of the consumer and ethical
dilemma arosed from the sex appeal advertising, we must consider the basic
concepts in the normative ethical theories of moral philosophy (Gould, 1994).
Normative ethical theory (NET)
This is thebranch of philosophy concerned with the formulating and evaluating
the theories of moral rightness and moral wrongness. In simple words it refers to
the rightness or wrongness (Hubin, 2000). Before using any overt sexual appeals
in advertisement, advertisers should have to recognise the ethical comlexity
involved in it (LaTour and Henthorne, 1994). Mildly sexual ads are considered
less objectionable on ethical dimensions than those with strong sex appeals ads
(Mittal et al., 2000).
Blair et al. (2006) reported that sex appeals in advertisement does not always
concludes to brand memory. There is a specific difference between what a lay
man understand to accept an ad or not. The main considerable thing regarding
sex appeals in advertisement is that, which product or service is on offer. For
instance it is against the morality to put vulgar elements in commercials on any
electronics or any unrelated products because these kinds of advertisements
may affect the brand negatively. Because the attitude towards the
advertisesment has been found intervenient in the process through which
advertising may influence the attitude towards the brand and purchase intention
(MacKenzie et al., 1986).
The major objectives of this study are to know about the attitude of the viewer
towards the sexual advertisements and to know whether the attitude developed
by the sexual ads create the same attitude towards the brand and purchase
intention or not.
On the bases of previous studies, we are able to develop the hypotheses which
will help us to achieve the objectives of the study.
H1: There is significant inverse relationship between sexual appeals in
advertisement and attitude toward the advertisement.
H2: There is a significant positive relation ship between attitude toward the
advertisement and attitude toward the brand.
H3: There is significant positive relation ship between attitude toward the brand
and purchase intention.
Data collection and Procedure
The population of the study was the diverse area’s students of MBA from Institute
of Management Sciences, Peshawar KPK and the random sampling technique
has been used on the sample of 150 respondents between the age group 20-30.
Among the 150 sample, 96 were male and 54 were female students. Structured
questionnaire was used for data collection which was taken from LaTour and
Henthorne (1994) study and was modified according to Pakistani environment
The questionnaire was of three parts “attitude toward the ad, attitude toward the
brand and purchase intention”. The questionnaire was designed to measure,
attitude of consumers towards the sex appeal advertisements, attitude towards
the brand and purchase intention. Likert scale was used for each variable
ranging from 1 to 5 where 1 coded as “strongly disagree” and 5 coded as
Before filling the questionnaire, one sex appeal advertisement was shown to
the each and every respondent through laptop, in order to allow them sufficient
time to make their mind according to the given questions in questionnaire. The
advertisements were having different sort of sex appeals that is, sex arousal
sounds, poses and the show off of the specific parts of the body which were half
naked (Figures 1, 2...8). On the bases of eight advertisements the data has been
SPSS 16 has been used for data analysis. The descriptive statistics were used
for analyzing the consequences of the sex appeal advertisements. The t-test was
performed to know the significance of the descriptive statistics with the reference
value of 3, to know the relationship among the sex appeals in the advertisement
and attitude of the respondents towards those advertisements.
Linear regression model was used while determining the relationship between
attitude towards the advertisement, attitude towards the brand and purchase
intention. All tests were conducted at 5% level of significance.
Figure “1” (LUX)
Figure “2” (L.G Electronics)
Figure “3” (Kashmir Premier Oil) Figure “4” (Excite condom)
Figure “5” (Veet Cream)
Figure 6” (Close up) Figure “7” (Slice)
Figure “8” (Dettol)
Analysis of Results
The respondents completed six 5-point items that were added to measure the
attitude towards the ad (Aad) and three 5-point items used to measure the
attitude toward the brand (Abr). Purchase intention was measured by 5-point
items. The scale was anchored by “definitely will not” to “definitely will”. The
Cronbach's Alpha value was .790, which shows its reliability.
With regard H1 which states that there is a significant inverse relationship
between sex appeals Ad and attitude towards the (Aad). The results show that
more respondents dislike sex appeals in advertisement (Table 1.1). Because the
mean is 2.5522 which is smaller than neutral value equal to 3. Values rights to
the neutral were tends to likeness and to the left were tend to the dislikeness.
The results showed significant effects (that is, p<.05) which confirm to indications
of significant overall model results. The observed t value for this test is -11.507,
with an associated (two tailed) significant of 0.0000<0.05, which shows the
inverse relation ship between sex appeals ad and attitude towards the ad (Aad).
Table 1.1 One-Sample Statistics
Var N Mean Std. Deviation Std. Error Mean
Aad 150 2.5522 .47657 .03891
Table 1.2 One-Sample Test
Test Value = 3
95% Confidence Interval of
Sig.P (2- the Difference
Var t Df tailed) Mean Difference Lower Upper
Aad -11.507 149 .000 -.44778 -.5247 -.3709
To test the H2, regression analysis has been used. The analysis enabled us to
examine the positive relationship between independent variable (Aad) and
dependant variable attitude towards the brand (Abr). Table 2.3 shows that the
independent variable (Aad) has Beta =.509 with high significance(P<.05 and F-
51.69) , which means that each unit change in the independent variable (Aad)
change the dependent variable (Abr) 0.50 times positively. In simple words
positive Beta value shows that “if attitude toward the sex appeals would
favorable, then the attitude toward the brand would be favorable as well. But if
the Aad would be unfavorable, then Abr would unfavorable as well”. The R
Table 2.1 Model Summary
R Adjusted R Std. Error of
Model R Square Square the Estimate
1 .509a .259 .254 .88619
a. Predictors: (Constant), Aad
Table 2.2 ANOVAb
Model Sum of Squares Df Mean Square F Sig.
1 Regression 40.601 1 40.601 51.699 .000a
Residual 116.230 148 .785
Total 156.830 149
a. Predictors: (Constant), Aad
b. Dependent Variable: Abr
Table 2.3 Coefficientsa
Model B Std. Error Beta t Sig.
1 (Constant) .153 .395 .388 .699
Aad 1.095 .152 .509 7.190 .000
a. Dependent Variable: (Abr)
Value is 0.259 (25.9%), which means that the change in dependent variable
(Abr) because of independent variable (Aad) is 25.9 %.
Table 3.1 Model Summary
Std. Error of the
Model R R Square Adjusted R Square Estimate
1 .726a .527 .524 .70774
a. Predictors: (Constant), Purchase intention
To test H3, regression analysis used again. The analysis enabled us to examine
the positive relationship between independent variable, attitude towards the
brand (Abr) and dependant variable Purchase intention. Table 3.3 shows that the
(Abr) has Beta =.726 with high significant (P<.05 and F=169) which means that
each unit change in the independent variable (Abr) change the Purchase
intention positively .726 times.
In simple words positive Beta value shows that “if attitude toward the brand (Abr)
would favorable, then the purchase intention would be favorable as well. But if
the Abr would be unfavorable, then the purchase intention would unfavorable as
well”. The value of R square is 0.527(52%), which means that because of
independent variable (Abr) 52.7% change occurs in dependent variable (PI).
Table 3.2 ANOVAb
Sum of Mean
Model Squares df Square F Sig.P
1 Regression 82.698 1 82.698 165.099 .000a
Residual 74.133 148 .501
Total 156.830 149
a. Predictors: (Constant), Purchase
b. Dependent Variable: Attitude towards brand (Abr)
Table 3.3 Coefficientsa
Model B Std. Error Beta t Sig.P
1 (Constant) .874 .172 5.094 .000
.716 .056 .726 12.849 .000
a. Dependent Variable: (Abr)
Further more the study found that as compare to the male respondents, females
have more negative attitude towards sex appeals advertisements (Table 4.1).
Table 4.1 Attitude toward Ad
ale/female Mean N Std. Deviation
female 2.3889 54 .38171
male 2.6441 96 .50124
Total 2.5522 150 .47657
Attitude toward the brand (Abr)
Male/female Mean N Std. Deviation
female 2.9074 54 .83532
male 2.9722 96 1.12251
Total 2.9489 150 1.02594
Table 4.3 Purchase intention (PI)
Male/female Mean N Std. Deviation
Female 2.9630 54 .67189
Male 2.8646 96 1.20193
Total 2.9000 150 1.04110
The attitude towards the brand was mostly equal for both the genders (Table
4.2). But regarding purchase intention, females are having more favorable
intention than male respondents (Table 4.3).
Direction for future research
The additional research may be done to find “the impact of sex appeals in
The impact of using sexual appeals in public awareness advertisements
by non profit organizations.
One of the major limitations of this study is the respondents because they were
not fully participative due to their privacy issues. The limits of the study prevent it
from generalization of the obtained results.
The main concern of this research was only the television advertisements, which
is another limitation of this study. The outcomes and the behavior of the
respondents may be different for print advertisements.
Keeping in mind the above mentioned limitations, the outcomes of this research
have pointed out some important effects of the sexual appeal in TV
advertisement. The results obtained from the study also contributed important
information about the effects of using TV ads which has sex appeal.
Generally, our society is considered as a Muslim society, and its people are
bounded in some sort of religion and cultural boundaries. In spite of modernism
and globalization, people of Pakistan have some ethical concerns about the
advertisements. Our research shows that most of the people don’t like sexual
appeals in advertisement, and such sort of dislikeness leads to negative attitude
towards the brand and purchase intention. The outcomes of this research
showed significantly negative feelings of the respondent about the social cost of
the sex appeal in TV ads.
The results of the study may help the regulatory authority to ban such sort of
advertisement, because the study found that both male and female have nearly
same negative attitude towards the sexual advertisements and brands shown in
those advertisements. But as compare to the male, female were having high
favorable purchase intention than male to the brand. It may, because of the
unavailability of close substitute of those products. The findings of the study
reveal that sexual appeals in advertisement are unacceptable in our society, and
people don’t like sex appeals in advertisements. If any unethical appeals will find
in advertisement, it will lead to build a negative attitude towards the ad, which will
further leads to build a negative attitude toward brand and purchase intention.
The marketer should keep in mind that the globalization strategy is unacceptable
every where, because of the differences in cultural values and norms. So to
make a marketing campaign, the perception and cultural values of the target
market should never ignore.
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