Friday, June 09, 2006

Sexy spots most likely to air on hot programs

What do programs like The Howard Stern Show, Sex in the City, Cheaters, and Desperate Housewives have in common? In addition to scintillating content, the commercials aired within these programs contain more sexually attired actors, sexual language, and sexual behavior compared to ads aired during non-sexually themed programs.

Three honors students in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations at the Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communication, Lindey Knox, Vicente Lee, and David Zandman, recorded and coded an episode of 18 different programs aired in the last two weeks of November 2005. Half of the programs had sexual themes and half did not. Using coding schemes employed by Walker (2000) and Soley & Reid (1988), the students coded each commercial in all 18 programs (N = 534).

The findings reveal that the following proportion of commercials contained sexual content in sexually themed programming: 26% of ads contained a sexually-dressed women, 9% contained sexual language, and 16% contained instances of sexual behavior (e.g., kissing, implied intercourse). These proportions are higher than those in the non-sexually themed programming (female attire, 8%; language, 4%; and behavior 9%). Products most likely to be advertised with sexual content are lingerie, condoms, jewelry, and movies. These findings are important because they confirm that advertisers target their sexual appeals to audiences who are open to sexual information. Will someone watching Desperate Housewives really complain about a sexual ad?

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