The Sexual Divide: Americans Split In Reaction To Racy Ads


Is there too much sex in advertising? That's somewhat true for a majority of Americans. But another 40% find themselves shrugging their shoulders at sexual imagery in TV and print ads. 

A new poll says more than half of Americans -- 56% -- are bothered by sexual imagery in ads. But 37% of Americans "aren't bothered" at all. After that, another good chunk of Americans -- 32% -- are only "somewhat bothered." At the bottom of the list, 25% of U.S. consumers are "very bothered." (The 56% of Americans who are "bothered" by the sexual imagery in ads is made up of those who say they are "somewhat bothered" (32%) and those who are "very bothered" (25%).)

A survey of over 2,000 U.S. adults during the first week in October by Harris Interactive and Adweek Media came to these conclusions.

Looking at gender, a strong percentage of those troubled by sex-related content in ads are women -- almost three-quarters of women (73%) are bothered, with one-third (34%) saying they are very bothered by the amount of sexual imagery in ads.



This research is similar to results that have been garnered in previous studies, as well as reactions from male consumers. Over half of men (53%) say they are not at all bothered by the amount of sexual content in advertising.

Breaking down the current survey by age, older consumers generally are more troubled then younger consumers. The survey shows less than half of those 18-34 (46%) and half of those 35-44 (50%) say they are "bothered"; but three in five of those 45-54 (60%) and two-thirds of those 55 and older (66%) are "bothered" by sexual content in marketers' messaging.

Over half (55%) don't want any change, and say the current amount of sexual imagery is acceptable.

However, there are those who take the contrary positions: They want more sex in their ads. Over one in five (22%) say they would like to see more sexual imagery.

3 comments about "The Sexual Divide: Americans Split In Reaction To Racy Ads".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, December 13, 2010 at 12:16 p.m.

    The frog in the low-hear frying pan also shrugged his shoulders, early on.

  2. Joanne Schmitz from Tribune Technology, December 13, 2010 at 12:20 p.m.

    We probably would be seeing much less of a gender divide if it wasn't only women's bodies selling products. I will admit to backing up the Tivo for the Old Navy ad with shirtless buff men in it.

  3. Karen Goldfarb from Madcap Labs, December 13, 2010 at 5:31 p.m.

    It doesn't usually bother me per se, but when we took my 4-year-old daughter to the mall to see a movie and she was presented with 4 larger-than-life Victoria's Secret posters on our way in, I think that's wrong because there was no way for me to screen them out before she saw them.

    Even my husband said something about it. Give parents a break, would you?

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