DEVIL’S ADVOCATE: Should sex sell?



Sarah Whaley

For those of you who have yet to browse the latest Don’t Walk photo shoot: prepare yourselves. And by that I mean run yourself a cold shower or grab a box of Kleenex because even my laptop gave off steam when I stumbled upon this year’s snapshots. While many may have been taken aback by the lack of clothing, I found myself rather impressed that the models had, quite literally, gone all out.

Now, you could attack me with the old ‘destructive influence of media’ argument and I could toss ‘freedom of expression’ into the mix and we could go on for hours about the pros and cons of a hint of nipple. The fact is: sex is out there and it won’t be going away any time soon.

And frankly, why the heck should it? After all, sex and nudity is a fundamental part of human nature, much like sleeping or eating. I don’t know about you but I don’t feel particularly naughty eyeing up a sandwich (although Baguette Express may present a few phallic hurdles for the weak among us).

We’ve all got Part A or Part B and the lucky ones have seen each others. Nobody flicks through a Victoria’s Secret catalogue and thinks they didn’t see that coming.

I’m not claiming nudity is acceptable everywhere- a ‘Little Miss Bare-Arsed’ children’s book does seem mildly inappropriate. But in a University environment, where we are all consenting adults and sex is often just the consequence of a round of jaegerbombs in the Lizard, it hardly seems scandalous to shed the layers.

Don’t Walk aren’t the only ones who seem to agree. The AU flashed us some raunchy images in their recent ‘Get Your Heart Racing’ ad campaign, not to mention the various sporting teams who braved the cold to bring us festive nude calendars and we all got a brand new gym for their efforts. Cheers guys.

It seems there is an exhibitionist in all of us and those with the confidence to strip down should be applauded for their honesty. So I salute Don’t Walk and the models who dared to bare; as does my flatmate who has one of you as a screensaver…

An early example of sex in advertising


Emma Hinds

There is a blonde woman in pink underwear on a bed. She is looking seductively at me. She is holding a bottle in her hand. The caption on the poster begins ‘While you’re down there…’

It is hard to believe that this is a description of a recycling advert, displayed at the Freshers’ Fayre. What has sex got to do with recycling? Absolutely nothing, except that the people who made this poster wanted to make recycling memorable, risky, exciting, and sexy. But what is so memorable about a sexy advert these days?

It is apparently the infrequency of torture is what makes it truly unbearable, it is human nature to adapt to anything eventually. It’s true of working in chocolate shops, and it’s true of sex. Why else is it that we can walk past giant billboards of scantily clad models and not even register the branding?

We are so exposed to sexually explicit and suggestive advertising that what was once taboo is now almost utterly ineffective. We are so desensitised so that when we see adverts such as the Don’t Walk or the recycling adverts, we do not think ‘I’m going to recycle now, that will make me sexy!’ (I can’t speak for everyone there.)

In fact, a common response is distaste. Not because the viewer necessarily thinks sex shouldn’t be used in advertising, but because it is so crudely obvious that the advertisers are trying to sell their product with sex, that it becomes almost insulting. Are we that easily manipulated? Does the amount of sex in our advertising just make us look like witless animals utterly driven by desire?

Doing the recycling will not make me thinner, blonder, and magically more compellingly proportioned. It shouldn’t either. When did we lose faith in ourselves so entirely, that we believed the promise of sex would sell recycling more effectively than the promise of a healthier environment? When we ask if sex should sell, we are really asking what kind of treatment we deserve as buyers.

I guess the question is, do we deserve more respect?


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