2010-05-03_1347People don’t change their minds – they simply make new decisions based on new information.

If you don’t provide them with new information, they won’t make any new decisions.

That’s Roy Williams’ take on the subject of changing minds, and I tend to agree, depending on how broadly one interprets “information.”  It’s possible to give people no new information in the narrow sense of the word, but to cause them to feel differently about what they already knew.

In other words, you can spark a new decision by providing a new perspective rather than new information.

Case in point: This print ad for BMW…

(The Good)


While I’m not out to make any claims about the ultimate effectiveness of the ad, I am going to say that this represents a far cry from a shameful or gratuitous use of sex.  It’s actually a very deliberate and pointed use of sex-appeal aimed at getting you to feel differently about the desirability of pre-owned cars.

An intellectual approach would be to talk about the inspection and refurbishment that these pre-owned cars go through and the warranty you’ll receive when you buy one.  But that’s been done so many times it’s probably already assumed by the reader.

Readers already know that pre-owned cars are a better deal financially, yet they still feel an irrational desire for “new.”  And irrational obstacles call for emotional advertising.  They call for creating new perspectives rather than providing new information.

Bottom Line:

When you’re contemplating the use of shock-appeal or sex-appeal in an ad, you need to ask yourself if the ad is merely shocking, titillating, and entertaining readers, or if it’s changing how they feel about what you sell.

Otherwise you’ll end up with the Ugly end of Sex in Advertising, such as this ad for… can you even tell?

(The Ugly)


Believe it or not, this is an ad for a vacuum cleaner!


  1. Steve Sorenson on 05.04.2010

    I love the thought, “irrational obstacles call for emotional advertising. They call for creating new perspectives rather than providing new information.” Something to think about. Thanks

  2. julie k on 05.04.2010

    The BMW ad is pretty smart. It’s a lot smarter if they also ran a version with a man. From what i see, plenty of BMW drivers are women and gay men.

  3. Sarah Merion on 05.04.2010

    Have you seen the Equinox ads? People were ENRAGED! Super NC-17, but it did make me want to go to the gym…..

    Here’s some of the ads: http://home.frognet.net/~mcfadden/evu/Ellen_von_Unwerth_Equinox.htm

  4. Miche D on 05.13.2010

    Funny how sex ads can backfire on you (no pun intended). This ad makes me feel inadequate. I was ready to buy a Bimmer. Now, I’m looking at that M37. (Bummer) At least the Japanese have the good taste to keep their dicks in the closet.