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Research proposal of ethical issues by sex in advertisement

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Education
Wordcount: 2302 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The apprehensive research proposal spotlights on the ethical issues raised by the sex in commercials in the new trade atmosphere by concentrating on Axe/Lynx perfumes. The intricate society are curious about the a mixture of ethical problems elevated by the commercials, at this point we are giving attention to the issues raised by the sex in commercials.

Axe or lynx is a brand of men grooming products owned by Unilever which is a British/Dutch company launched in France in 1980. Axe advertisements represent various ways the merchandise evidently helped men attract women.

The proposed research mainly aims in figuring out how sex in commercial influences the customers and its impact on the society. Huge amount of money are being spent on advertisements in order to promote their products. The company uses different themes in advertisements in attracting the customers. The companies also use sex themes in their commercials in advertising which arises many ethical issues.

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Aims and Objectives:

Essential of this research is to scan the question sex sells but should it? The ethical issues raised by sex commercials and its impact on the society. Also find out how youth act in response to this and gather information on how young men and women are manipulated by sexual appeals in adverts. The research also aims at pointing out the reaction of men and women in context of sex in commercials and how do they define it.

Literature review:

Among the ethics we can point out quite limited on use of sex in advertisement. Here we need to arrange theories relating to the sex appeals in commercials and explore the perception of sex in advertisements.

Lambaise and Riechert (2003) state that there five different types of sexual information in advertising; nudity; sexual behaviour, physical attractiveness, sexual referents and sexual embeds. The authors also disclose that images and words that refer to sex or active sexual thoughts can be considered as examples of sex in advertising. They defines sexual referents in advertising as message elements, visual or verbal that serve to bring forth or develop sexual thoughts, sexual content takes from viewer’s mind, not in the advertisement. Lambiase and Reichert (2003) claims that men and women perceive appeals in advertisement differently. Women reacted tenser than men did when being showed a print advertisement showing female nudity. When men viewed the print they reacted with energy arousal instead of tension arousal.

Gould (1994) points out that an important distinction among sexual appeals is obscenity versus indecency. Obscene material is illegal and involves three conditions; it involves prurient interest, it is patently offensive, and it lacks redeeming value. The writer in addition claims that most advertisements in common with sexual appeals are not obscene because they fail these assessments, although some adverts may be under the tag of indecency, which dissimilar to obscenity is not illegal.

Boddewyn (1991) states that the main constants and variables bearing on this issue religion and other value systems are crucial in defining and sanctioning sex and decency in advertising. Government intervention is advocated by those who mistrust others from social control and/or want to translate social issues in to laws. (Boddewyn. 1991).in case self regulation is immature or missing and the local culture suffers endangered by foreign messages the governmental regulation plays an important role.

Smith et. Al, (1995) states that sexual content or nudity in advertising increases recognition of the specific advertisement, but at the same time it decreases the memory of the brand. The author also discloses that the previous research has identified important variables that supports when nudity will be effective and when it will be ineffective in advertising. In particular shows nudity should be avoided in situation where it is likely to elicit negative arousal, such as when it is used for an inappropriate product. More over the author declares that nudity works better for products like alcoholic beverages and fragrances, the sexual appeals demand certain products better than other products.


Here we need to practice a systematic approach in direction to the mixture of advertising fields in discovering the issues arising on the use of sex in advertising. As there are only limited data published on ethical issues of sex commercials primary data collection is necessary to fulfil the purpose if our thesis. The purpose of the research is being stated which is the first step for the research and it continues with the presentation of the research approach and its strategy. The next step is to present the mode of data collection and sampling of the information. The final stage deals with the explanation of the investigative strategy and evaluating the quality standards.

Data gathering:

The necessary data required for the research is being collected from the primary sources of data. For this purpose it is decided to follow the questionnaire method and interviewing. Secondary data is one of the most convenient methods of data gathering to be used in the beginning of the research. (Eriksson & Wiedersheim-Paul, 2001). The data collection methods that are to be mainly used for this research are interviews, questionnaires, documentation and observations. Documentation will act as the major part of secondary data and the interviews questionnaires and observations will act as the main role players in primary data. The major source of our primary data collection will be questionnaires and interviews and questionnaires. Interviews have got enough strength to focus directly on to the topic of the study (yin, 2003). The main drawback of the interview is that it can be easily biased with non proper preparation of the questionnaires.

Focused interview is the type of interview used for this research because we can use an interview guide which enables discussion related to the conceptual frame work. It is being used to verify the theories of the study. It can be generally by telephone (Lundhal and Skarvad, 1992). It is less costly and less time consuming. It is helpful when the person to be interviewed is far away and personal interview can involve more complex questions. It also enables to have more feedback.

Data analysis:

The collected data is the rough data it can be a mixture of biased and unbiased data. Therefore the collected data is to be sorted out and grouped to remove the biased data. It can be grouped according to the gender in order to get the exact figure about the present situation. Yin (2003) states that each case study should start with a general analytical strategy. A strategy will help to take care of the evidence, produce compelling analytic conclusions and also rule out possible alternative interpretations. According to Ramirez and Reichert (2000) there are five different characteristics that an advertisement may have to be defined as sexual. The common among these are physical attractiveness, flirting dancing moaning and groaning.

Data presentation:

The data presentation should provide a clear picture about the circumstances therefore it must be presented in a well defined format that the readers easily understand. The primary data thus collected need to be arranged in a well defined manner, it has to be sorted and grouped. Presentation can be also in tables/graphs to provide easy information evidently. The secondary data helps in gathering and understanding the impact of sex commercials in the society in the past and the current situation


The primary objective of study is to discover the ethical issues related to the use of sex in commercial advertisements and to find out a solution for the issues. Many of the companies use sex in their advertisements to attract the public attention and grab more customers towards it. Not all the companies use sex in their advertisements although there are a few companies focusing on sex commercials to sell their products. The existence of sex appeals in advertising is prevailing in many parts of the world and it is often promoted in terms of erotic fantasies (Gould, 1994). Bareness or use of sex in advertisements can increase the attention; it may decrease the attention towards the brand name (Belch, Severn, 1990). Sex may attract initial attention for a longer period by quality of challenging models and their posing. They also evoke emotional responses.

There are also cultural and religious aspects affecting the use sexy advertisements. In some countries it s restricted as it is considered to be indecent. The uses of sex in advertisements whether direct or indirect are considered to be indecent and are being banned. While some other countries with western culture promotes it.

Taking in to consideration the global aspect nudity has got budding hurtful social cost. Advertisements are considered to be decent and acceptable by the society. Women are mainly concentrated for the nudity in advertisements. They are mainly targeted to attract consumers here women are being degraded as sexual objects and this arises many problems in most of the countries.

Nudity is only for attracting the customers; it may increase the sale of the product but it may end in social problem such as degradation of women as sexual objects. It harms the viewers thoughts and beliefs therefore I can suggest for the minimization of nudity in advertisements

Time scale:


October ‘ 09

November ’09

December ’09

Week Commencing










Begin Research, Find Research Questions


Read Related Articles and Journals



Finalise Related Literature and data



Collect and sort all data through questionnaire



Data analysis and interpretation



Framing of the conceptual and theoretical work



Writing up of findings


Print Data





In this framework for the proposed research I have decided to do future researches which can make several impacts in the society. Nudity is used in major advertisements especially in perfumes and fragrances. The study would throw light on to the society in creating awareness about the nudity in commercials and the degradation of women in these advertisements. Advertisements are meant to promote sales and not to harm the beliefs and concepts in the society


* Belch, G.E Severn, J. (1990). The effects of sexual and nonsexual advertising appeals and information level on coginitive processing and communication effectiveness. Journal of advertising, vol. 19 Issue 1. ISSN 0091-3367

* Boddewyn,J.J (1991). Controlling sex and decency in advertising around the world. Journal of advertising, vol.20 issue 4. ISSN 0091-3367

* Eriksson L.T. & Wiedersheim-Paul,.F. (2001).att utreda och rapporetta. Malmo : Liber. ISSN 91-40-30919-3

* Gould, S.J (1994). Sexuality and ethics in advertising: a research agenda and policy guideline perspective. Journal of advertising, vol. 23 Issue 3. ISSN 0091- 3367

* Lambiasse, J. & Reichert, T. (2003) sex in advertising. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. ISBN 0-8058-4117-2

* Lundhal,U. Skarvad, P.H. (1992) Utredningsmetodik for samhallsvetare och ekonomer. 2nded.). lund : studentlitreatur. ISBN 0-8039-5540-5.

* Ramirez, A. & Reichert,T. (2000). Defining sexually oriented appeals in advertising: A grounded theory investigation. Advances in consumer research, vol.27. ISSN 0098-9258.

* Yin, R.K. (2003). Casestudy research: design and methods. (3rd ed.). Thousand oaks, California :Sage Publications Inc. ISBN 0-7619-2553-8.


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