Ads on Sexy TV Shows a Turnoff for Women

Product pitchers may want to avoid racier programming, British study finds

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MONDAY, Feb. 26, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Advertisers may be wasting their money, at least with female viewers, when they place television ads in programs with a lot of sexual content, British researchers say.

"Sex seems to have a detrimental effect on females' recall for an advertisement," said researcher Ellie Parker of the Department of Psychology at University College London, in a prepared statement. "Sex is only a useful tool when advertising to men," Parker said.

In a new study published in this month's issue of Applied Cognitive Psychology, researchers tested the effects of advertisements in a group of 60 college students (30 men and 30 women) ages 18-31 years.

The students were divided into four groups. The first group saw an overtly sexual episode of Sex and The City, which had advertisements containing sexual images running during program breaks. Another group saw the same episode with non-sexual advertisements. The third and fourth groups saw an episode of Malcolm in the Middle that contained no sexual references, with either sexual or non-sexual advertisements.

The researchers found that the students were less able to recall the brand of products advertised during the Sex and The City episode than during the Malcolm in the Middle episode.

Furthermore, the men recalled the brand of products whose advertisements contained sexual images better than if the advertisements were sex-free. Women, on the other hand, were put off by sexual content in advertisements.

More information

The American Psychological Association has more about women and men.

SOURCE: John Wiley & Sons Inc., news release, Feb. 20, 2007

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