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.

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