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Are Ads Too Sexy?

posted 10 Dec 2010, 04:18 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 10 Dec 2010, 04:19 ]

Over half of Americans are bothered by sexual imagery in ads

NEW YORK, Dec. 10, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Sex sells. It's a common mantra among many in the advertising industry, but is there a line regarding how much sex – either in imagery or innuendo – is too much? Over half of Americans (56%) say they are bothered by the amount of sexual imagery in the advertising they see.  One-quarter (25%) say they are very bothered by the amount while one-third of U.S. adults (32%) are somewhat bothered.  Almost two in five (37%) say they are not at all bothered by the amount of sexual imagery they see in advertising and 6% of Americans say they do not see any sexual imagery in advertising.

These are some of the findings of a new AdweekMedia/ Harris Poll, survey of 2,098 U.S. adults surveyed online between October 5 and 7, 2010 by Harris Interactive.

As one might imagine, gender plays a large role in how bothered Americans are regarding the sexual imagery in advertising. Almost three-quarters of women (73%) say they are bothered, with one-third (34%) saying they are very bothered by the amount of sexual imagery in ads. Over half of men (53%), however, say they are not at all bothered by the amount of sexual imagery in advertising.

There is also a difference by age in how bothered someone is by the amount of sexual imagery in advertising.  Less than half of those 18-34 (46%) and half of those 35-44 (50%) say they are bothered by the sexual imagery in ads, compared to three in five of those 45-54 (60%) and two-thirds of those 55 and older (66%) who say the same.

What about those not bothered by sexual imagery?

Among those Americans not bothered by the sexual imagery in advertising, over half (55%) would not like any change and say the current amount of sexual imagery is acceptable. Just over one in five (22%) say they would like to see more sexual imagery and a similar number of those not bothered (23%) would like to see less.

Again, one might not be surprised to see there is a gender divide on this issue. Almost three in ten men who are not bothered by sexual imagery (28%) would like to see more of it while just 6% of women who are not bothered agree. Conversely, almost two in five women who are not bothered by sexual imagery in advertising (37%) say they would prefer to see less of it compared to fewer than one in five men (17%) who say the same. However, similar numbers of men (55%) and women (57%) who are not bothered by sexual imagery in advertising say that no change is needed.

So What?

Despite most Americans saying they are bothered by the amount of sexual imagery in ads, marketers are probably right on this one – sex does sell. Or at least gets people to talk about an ad and, hopefully, the product as well. And while there might be some discomfort regarding the sexual imagery, marketers still want to use these images. What they need to do is be careful to not cross the line and turn a potential customer away.

TABLE 1

SEXUAL IMAGERY IN ADS

"How bothered, if at all, are you by the amount of sexual imagery in the advertising that you see?"

Base: All adults


Total

Age

Gender

18-34

35-44

45-54

55+

Male

Female

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Very/Somewhat bothered (NET)

56

46

50

60

66

39

73

    Very bothered

25

15

19

28

34

15

34

    Somewhat bothered

32

31

31

33

33

24

39

Not at all bothered

37

45

44

30

29

53

21

N/A – I do not see any sexual imagery in advertising

6

6

6

8

4

7

5

Decline to answer

1

3

1

1

1

1

1

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding



TABLE 2

MORE SEXUAL IMAGERY IN ADS

"You say that you are not at all bothered by the amount of sexual imagery in the advertising that you see.  However, given a choice, would you like to see more of it, less or it, or are you content with the current amount?"

Base: Adults who are not bothered by sexual imagery in ads


Total

Age

Gender

18-34

35-44

45-54

55+

Male

Female

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Would like to see more (NET)

22

24

24

22

17

28

6

    Would like to see much more

15

17

19

16

11

20

4

    Would like to see somewhat more

7

8

6

6

6

9

2

Would like to see less (NET)

23

22

13

26

31

17

37

    Would like to see somewhat less

17

17

11

22

18

12

28

    Would like to see much less

6

4

1

4

13

5

9

Would not like any change – the current amount is acceptable

55

54

63

53

53

55

57

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding



Methodology

This AdweekMedia/Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between October 5 and 7, 2010 among 2,098 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Where appropriate, this data were also weighted to reflect the composition of the adult online population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

The Harris Poll ® #152, December 10, 2010

By Regina A. Corso, SVP, Harris Poll, Public Relations and Youth Research, Harris Interactive

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

About AdweekMedia

AdweekMedia encompasses the publications, websites, digital products and events produced by Adweek, Brandweek and Mediaweek. Through this dynamic media network, each brand keeps the agency, marketing and media communities competitive and connected by delivering the latest news and expert analysis most relevant to their specific needs.

AdweekMedia is part of Nielsen Business Media, which is a unit of The Nielsen Company. Nielsen Business Media is a leading market-focused provider of integrated information and sales and marketing solutions, helping businesses go to market more effectively and efficiently.  For more seewww.adweek.com.

SOURCE Harris Interactive

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