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More Companies Try To Raise Profits Through Sexy Advertising

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RALEIGH — Since the invention of the remote control, advertisers are doing what they can to make you stop flipping channels during commercials and keep you watching. Often, they turn to sex appeal to turn you into a customer, but does sex really sell?

Advertisers do what they can to get your attention. Lately, more companies are trying to raise profits by raising eyebrows.

Nancy Bono has been in the advertising business for 12 years. While none of her local clients have sexy commercials, she can see why some companies do.

"It definitely has gotten more sexual and more creative," she says. "The whole goal here is people are trying to send a message that someone is going to remember, and what are they going to remember? It's either going to be a jingle or the image that they saw or the product."

Using sex to sell is nothing new, but the images are more explicit.

The ads range from simply suggestive to right in your face. Even products that you would not think of sexy are steaming up the screen. But does it work? Does sex sell?

Dr. James Jeck, a marketing expert, says everyone develops the ability to screen out commercials so the ad agencies get more aggressive to make us watch. However, studies show we do not watch what they are trying to sell.

"It could well be that a lot of money is being wasted on sexy advertisements," he says. "They tend to remember the model more than they remember the products, so they have difficulty hooking up a brand name with a sexy message."

"I won't pick it up because of the ad, but I'll remember the ad," says TV viewer Robert Etheridge.

In fact, some sexy ads are having the opposite effect the companies want. WRAL showed some provocative commercials to parents. They were not turned on, but rather turned off.

"If I'm watching it with my wife, that's one thing," says parent Bill Britton. "If the girls are there, I might get a little upset about that, and you know, I might silently punish them by not supporting the product."

"My daughter said she saw the Tommy jeans commercial, and I'm thinking, 'No, I hope not!' It was just a little too provocative," says parent Jill Hauser.

Uncle Ben's Rice debuted a sexy ad last year, showing a couple getting all steamed up over rice bowls. That ad agency claims the campaign was so successful, rice sales for the company increased 8 percent.

Most of the people WRAL interviewed say they are more likely to watch ads with humor rather than sex.

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Debra Morgan, Reporter
Chad Flowers, Photographer
Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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