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A Close Look at Research on Sex Appeal Advertising

Fang Liu

Introduction

Appeal strategies are important in both traditional and nontraditional advertising contexts. As a major appeal strategy in advertising, sex appeal (or sexual appeal) has been widely adopted in mainstream consumer advertising in most countries in the world. This chapter will begin with a detailed review of sex appeal studies in a monoculture, including their major findings and limitations; then it will focus its discussion on cross-cultural sex appeal studies. The chapter will finish by posting thoughts on key areas that demand future research attention for the purpose of developing a better understanding of the impact of sex appeal advertising on consumers.

Sex Appeal Advertising

Sex appeals in advertising can be defined in a number of different ways and the most common way is by the degree of nudity (LaTour & Henthorne, 1994). Nudity refers to the amount and style of clothing worn by models in an advertisement (e.g., partially nude or nude) (Reid & Soley, 1983). In this definition, clothing is a primary feature of sex appeal. Besides nudity, sex appeal can be defined by sexual suggestiveness; in other words, a sex appeal advertisement contains sexual stimuli that can trigger ideas about sex in a person’s mind (Reichert & Ramirez, 2000). A “sexual stimulus” does not necessarily involve nudity; for example, it can be sounds or gestures. This definition of sex appeal is regarded as “implicit,” compared to the explicit ...

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