Simple enough message: If you buy our product, women will have sex with you.
The set-up is more or less always the same: Man enters room. Man displays product. Attractive woman (or women) is drawn to him as if by magic. The longer form will depict the man asa loser who is unable to attract a mate until he uses the product.
Such commercials are often for health and beauty products, sometimes even products aimed at women - the idea seems to be, men will buy the product because they want to pick up sexy women, and women will buy the product because they want to be sexy.
Curiously, this trope does not usually hold for products whose main function is birth control, though it does apply for non-contraceptive parasexual products like Viagra or sexual lubricant. Ads for female oral contraceptives (the Pill) promote their secondary functions, such as regulating one's period or preventing acne.
A Sub-Trope of Sex Sells.
Bud Lite mocks the trope by saying, "Putting a pretty woman in a cowboy hat" is one way beer manufacturers try to sell their product. But you never see women with other types of hats. The commercial then runs through a few alternatives, such as a pretty woman in a balloon hat and saying it's "not hot". It finishes with a woman in a bowler hat. The narrator pauses, and says, "...surprisingly hot". The commercial then goes on to decry the use of pretty women in cowboy (or any other) sort of hats in order to sell beer.
Miller also played the trope pretty straight with an ad for Genuine Draft, where "Miller Genuine Draft is in a clear bottle because it has nothing to hide." The guy in the commercial, "Steve", puts his softcore porn out with the rest of his DVDs: "All of it alphabetical." His very voluptuous date admits, "Makes sense." The commercial then cuts to a a bottle slowly shedding its label as aporn riff plays.
As has been noted by counter-culture comics for about twenty years now, it gets particularly grating when it's a beer commercial that shows sexy women—because there's a decent chance that immediately before or after you'll see a commercial where it claims pot smoking will turn your life into an apocalyptic ruin.
Averted in Australia. The advertising rules for alcohol expressively forbid showing sexual success due to the consumption of alcohol.
Bradford and Bingley used an attractive lady in a bowler derby to sell bank accounts. The bank is now owned by Santander, as a result of the credit crunch.
Pick up any magazine about car subculture (Lowrider, Hot Rod, Import Tuner, etc.) and count the number of ads that feature a girl straddling a car or the product. You'll probably run out of extremities before you finish a quarter of the book.
Parodied in an advert for the Mini Cooper, which features an attractive woman glomping a man as he and his friend walk down the street; then it cuts back in time to the woman saying to her friend "You know what really turns me on? Bald, geeky men...who drive Minis."
A commercial for the car rental service Enterprise depicted a man's use of their service enabling him to get home in time to...be with his wife.
The page image, it should be noted, is a humorous subversion. They're just pointing out that it seats five passengers over a Lamborghini's one in a very tongue-in-cheek way.
A commercial for Neanderthal Jeans consisted of nothing but rock music, the logo, and a completely naked woman lying provocatively on a white background. No actual acts of hanky-panky were involved, but what else could this play to?
There is a TV commercial for JBS underwear that showed a blond woman with Godiva Hair wearing nothing but the tighty-whities, doing guy stuff. (spits in the sink, scratches her butt, pours beer on her cereal) It ended by explaining that "Men don't want to look at naked men."
Hair dying commercials targeted at women are often dedicated to promote the product's apparent ability to improve the user's look or self-confidence. Hair dying products directed at men enjoy contrasting the permanent sexual dry spell of their grey-haired actors and the God-like, instantaneous sexual gratification given left-and-right to the same actors, post-dye. Example: the ads for "Just For Men" coloring products featuring spokesmen Keith Hernandez and Walt "Clyde" Frazier.
This is a fairly old one. An oft-parodied (and, to this day, infamous) early form showed a "98-pound weakling" getting sand kicked in his face by a buff guy before he orders Charles Atlas' bodybuilding lessons, which turn him into a bronze Adonis with bikini-clad babes swarming all over him.
Parodied fiercely in a 2008 Superbowl ad that showed a woman who was really quite genuinely ugly — not just Hollywood Homely — having men falling all over her all day. It was revealed that this was because she rubbed a particular brand of cashews (the product being sold) on her wrists and neck as perfume. The degree to which most people found the reversal here to be intrinsically disturbing shows the one-sided nature of this trope.
York Peppermint Patties often have women eating them and having orgasmic moans.
The UK legalised TV gambling adverts in 2008. One result- Beth Cordingly (having fallen seriously far from her role as PC Kerry Young in The Bill) in a shoulder-revealing dress, lying on a roulette table.
It's a reference to Risky Business. They later advertised Guitar Hero: Metallica the same way, using four NCAA basketball coaches (the game released during March Madness) who are interrupted by Metallica burning the house down.
Any advert you see online for Evony is this. It is, apparently, a fairly standard 4X (i.e. Civilization-type, not "one more X than XXX!") game... but you would never guess that from the ads. They go from using hot girls in period dress advertising the game, to random underwear models advertising the game, to underwear models saying something sexual with an Evony logo in the background, and finally to ads that most people would assume take you to a porn site. See here.
The bizarre MoreThan insurance adverts, which consist only of car or home insurance being described in a sexy voice. And the small print at the bottom ends in 'Oooh yeah'.
Jewelry commercials are notorious for making a very subtle claim that your romance will be passionately rekindled when the sight of a diamond turns your wife into a squealing little girl.
Family Guyparodied this, showing a de Beers-style shadow-person commercial, at whose end the female shadow slowly descended, apparently to perform oral sex in return for a diamond. "Diamonds. She'll pretty much have to."
Also spoofed a beer commercial which made the claim, "...Women will have sex in your backyard". Lois, who was watching, was clearly offended... at the illustration of women drinking beer.
The de Beers ads are also brilliantly spoofed in a parody ad titled "a long day's end..."
Of course, there's also Ron White's interpretation: "Diamonds. That'll shut her up. For a minute."
And the small advert in the GTA: San Andreas game manual: "deKoch fine jewels: Shut that bitch up with ice."
Before: "You asshole! How could you sleep with my sister?!"
After: "Oh, a diamond! So you do love me! Do you want a blowjob?"
Perfumes and Sprays
Name a perfume advert. Buy Estee Lauder and you will apparently turn into Gwyneth Paltrow, without a bra. Buy Coco Mademoiselle and you will turn into Keira Knightley, without anything on. This cologne comes with a naked woman in a top hat!
Commercials for Axe body spray (Lynx in the UK) propose that the sensual aroma of the cologne renders women physically incapable of resisting the urge to mount the wearer. Their later commercials exaggerate this to a comic extent, showing an Axe spokeswoman compelled to wrap herself around a mannequin onto which she has sprayed the magic formula. Still later, they went even further, showing scantily clad women writhing sensually against inanimate objects which, it is suggested, were made from metal recycled from an old Axe spray can.
An ad from the 1990s shows how Pretty Female A uses her boyfriend's Axe deodorant after a morning shower because her own can is empty. In the next scene, she is traveling in an elevator at her office and gets ogled by Pretty Woman B. "If you use this product, women willhave sex with each other!"
A series of ads for Axe shampoo features an odd inversion- according to the add, if you use their competitor's product, random gangs of hot women will grab you and give you a bath with Axe Hair-Care Product Like Product (TM).
In Australia, the Lynx ads border on Rule of Funny: Yes, women are still attracted to you in hordes, but only because you're ''made of chocolate''. This, of course, still doesn't forgive the creepy uncanny valley.
Axe is a fascinating example of Sex For Product working too well. Teenagers flocked to buy the stuff after Axe's sexy ads came out, and sales soared. Eventually, however, people began associating Axe with weird, desperate, anti-social teenagers, and sales plummeted.
Likewise, Tag body spray commercials show a young man placed in an awkward situation as the women near him are enthralled by his cologne-granted sexual magnetism. Each ad ends with a parody disclaimer, foreswearing any responsibility for the "negative" consequences of: being suddenly mounted by your girlfriend's (attractive, of course) mother, your girlfriend being unable to resist the urge to strip for you in front of her father, the riot resulting from a mob of women rushing to press themselves against you, cheerleaders leaping off their human pyramid onto you, being jumped on by a female pro wrestler from the top rope, etc. Hopefully, it will never occur to the viewer that ugly women will try to molest you, too.
One of the cheerleader ones actually ended with a parody of this; "Warning: Actually, there is no warning. This is what is supposed to happen. High five."
And then there was that ad that began with a hapless nerd in a suit entering an elevator where another man had just sprayed his cologne. A sexy woman in a short skirt comes on and sniffs the air, then immediately pushes the nerd against the wall. The doors open (implied) much later and the nerd's suit and hair are disheveled while the girl is pulling her skirt back down. The ad ended with a male biker coming into the elevator giving the nerd "the look".
Axe and Tag can at least claim comedic exaggeration; "Yes, we said women would sleep with you if you used our product, but it was clearly meant as a joke." RGX body spray ran a series featuring absurdly hot actress Rachel Specter. She didn't strip, didn't wear anything obscenely revealing, didn't even say she would sleep with you if you used RGX. Instead, she just spoke directly into the camera, seriously and seductively, about general themes like "confidence" and "manhood." In some ways they were more insulting than the Tag and Axe spots.
Hai Karate cologne once claimed that if you got in trouble from using their product - and it showed a man trapped in a phone booth in the middle of a parking lot, surrounded by extremely attractive women who apparently wanted to rape him - they had a toll-free number you could call for assistance, and it shows a helicopter lowering a rope ladder so he supposedly could reach it. Most Hai Karate ads showed the wearer ineptly attempting to use karate to defend himself against the women who were irresistably attracted to him, causing a good deal of slapstick humour. Particulary as the wearer in question's movie-star looks are close to Woody Allen's.
Pre-empting the Axe commercials by about a decade were the commercials for Impulse Body Spray. Their tagline: "Men just can't help acting on Impulse." Wearing it would cause random men to run up and give you flowers. They played with the concept with a 90s commercial where a woman tries the Impulse effect in a gay district. It almost works.
A series of commercials for Edge Shave Gel seem to carry the message that if you use their product, an army of busty, microscopic women will throw a foam-party among your whiskers, playfully hosing each other down with cutoff-T-shirt-dampening foam. Until they are forced to flee in terror from dismemberment by your advancing razor. The survivors will fly jetpacks up into your nose, where they will disco. No, really.
Axe and Tag were parodied by a commercial for Nivea body wash. The commercial opens with assorted gangly adolescents and man-childs criticizing the product for failing to make women want to have sex with them. Finally, a clean-cut young businessman takes a look and says "It won't dry my skin, it doesn't reek... isn't that the point?" followed by the tagline "Nivea For Men: the body wash for grown-ups".
A variation would be Herbal Essences shampoo, where apparently the product gives sex to the woman, as implied by their orgasmic shouts of pleasure and the tagline "an organic experience."
An attempt to subvert is Dove's "real women" campaign, featuring "ordinary" (but still very attractive) women in their underwear.
A female variation has a shaving cream that is advertised as being guaranteed to get you closer. An attractive man is quite close to a woman as illustration.
Axe ran an ad campaign in Germany, featuring a hot bikini model and the phrase "The cleaner you are, the dirtier it will get".
Decades before Ax, Tag, and Impulse, a Brylcreem commercial said that being a "one-dab man" will guarantee that the user would get a hot woman on his arm — but if you took more than one, the manufacturer cannot take responsibility for the trauma of being pursued by multiple hot women.
In 2014, Old Spice is back at it with commercials showing an obvious android straight out of the Uncanny Valley seducing many beautiful women before he comically malfunctions.
Taco Bell inverts this in a commercial for their (methinks) Bacon Club Chalupa. Two very attractive women go to a bar and one brings along the food item to give them an "edge". Naturally, three handsome men approach because they find the smell of bacon to be completely alluring.
An Arby's commercial had three construction workers sitting and watching people... an attractive woman walks past with no reaction, then another (the video almost shows a look of disgust on the middle one), then someone who looks like George Costanza walking in slow motion with music as they nudge each other and cheer.
Though the two are have little to nothing to do with each other, Go Daddy commercials have become notorious using the standard "sex sells" stand around the Superbowl.
Bill Hicks joked that the ad they'd like to do is a slow zoom out from a beautiful woman's face to show she's naked and masturbating, which then fades out to "Drink Coke". "I don't know the connection, but I suddenly want to drink a lot of fucking Coke!" He then makes similar poses with a suggestive tone of voice himself, saying things like "Snickers!", and eventually finishes the routine off by imagining himself completely toothless and sitting in front of a TV masturbating shouting "Muh Snickuz! Muh Coke!" However, his prediction has been somewhat off, as certain cultural mores about sex have prevented such from being created within ten years, as he thought they would—to say nothing of how a lot of sexy ads since then have been subject to the What Were They Selling Again? effect.
Rodney Carrington did a similar bit, where he claimed that all you need to sell a product is a beautiful woman. He says that a commercial for wheelbarrels could feature a beautiful, naked woman in a lawn chair, no word being said aside from "mmmm" and the flash an ad for wheelbarrels on the screen. "You couldn't sell enough fuckin' wheelbarrels." Which explains why most print ads for Newport brand cigarettes have the titular product completely absent and all the implications of a Viagra commercial.
In the Dudley Moore movie Crazy People, an advertising executive (Moore) has a nervous breakdown and is institutionalized. While in the asylum, he and the other inmates produce a series of wildly successful advertisements, including "Jaguar: For men who want handjobs from beautiful women they hardly know."
Spoofed in Dave Barry's novel Big Trouble, where struggling freelance advertiser Eliot Arnold receives these orders from the Big Fat Stupid Client From Hell representing Hammerhead Beer: "You have a guy in a boat with a girl, she's in a bikini, she has big tits, they're on a boat, and they're getting hammered! With Hammerhead! The feeling of this ad is, somebody's gonna get laid! In the background swimming around is a shark! The girl has REALLY big tits!" With the aid of digital image manipulation, Eliot produces an incredibly tasteless implementation of this idea, ripping images off the Internet and throwing them together with no regard to scale, with either of the female model's obviously artificial breasts larger than the male model's head. The illustration is a hit with the Client From Hell and for Hammerhead Beer.
A parody of a real estate classified ad in Dave Barry's Money Secrets had the broker's cleavage looming far larger than the picture of the house and an arrow pointing to the former exhibit saying, "Take a gander at those garbonzos!"
Scott Adams, in The Dilbert Principle claimed there are three basic advertising methods, two aimed at men and one aimed at women. The male-oriented methods are "This product will get you dates with bikini models" and "This product will save you time and money, which you'll need if you want to date bikini models". The female-oriented method is "If you buy this product you'll become a bikini model".
In the first episode that 30 Rock started doing Product Placement, they decided to go all-out and make it as blatant as possible for the sake of humor. So the first Snapple plug features Liz Lemon interrupting herself telling Jack that their show is not meant to be a corporate product plug machine by turning to her writers and starting a minor riot about how amazing the Snapple they're drinking, ending with a closeup of Cerie (the resident hot girl) saying "I only date guys who drink Snapple." Later in the same episode, a man dressed as a Snapple bottle exits an elevator past two of the confused main characters.
A Saturday Night Live beer commercial parody (for the fictional "Schimit's Gay Beer") puts a grateful Chris Farley and Adam Sandler into a fantasy poolside scene full of buff, scantily clad men in a reversal of the usual heterosexual oriented trope, which shows off how ridiculous the real ads look to everyone who doesn't buy into them.
Much like the Scott Adams/Dilbert example above, Don Draper explains this trope (and Sex Sells more generally) to Peggy Olson thus while explaining the reason for running an ad for Patio (a diet soda aimed at women knocking off Ann Margaret's opening appearance in Bye Bye Birdie):
Parodied in Forum Warz, where the screen asking you to start Episode Two shows a picture of an attractive nearly-nude woman with the words 'Episode 2' and a downward arrow written on her stomach. Underneath there's a link saying 'Don't swing that way?' Click it, and the woman's replaced with an attractive nearly-nude man with the same thing written on him.
Parodied in a series of Dilbert comic strips where Dogbert becomes an advertising executive and is tasked with marketing beer. The executives claim to be "very lonely men" and insist on including bikini-clad women in the ads. Dogbert at first objects to this as being degrading and outmoded, to which the executives suggest giving the women jobs: "Bikini lawyers on skates!" Lynx actually did similar, as seen above.
In the play and movie The Solid Gold Cadillac, the character of Miss L'Arriere exists solely to appear in a series of sexed-up advertisements for General Products. When she comes on for one of them fully dressed, one of the Corrupt Corporate Executives objects.
One of the terrifying PMC commercials in Metal Gear Solid 4 is a disturbing exaggeration of this kind of advertising, showing sexy naked women with guns writhing around amongst sticky pink tentacles, to sell you a job killing people.
In the webcomic ''Planet Earth (and Other Tourist Traps), Moriarty (not that one) sees a promo for a contest to make a commercial for Brazen Hussy Beer, the prize being that they make your commercial, and you get free beer for a year. The first idea he has is for the barmaids to rip off their tops and wrestle in creamed corn. The idea he actually puts out there is for the guy to order a beer, and for two women to come up to him and say "I want to have sex with you." Then they get into a catfight. It gets poor reviews from the other contestants, but it passes anyway because the president of the company likes it. His commercial has his friend Dex as the guy, and his sister and an actress as the girls. One take made him uncomfortable because his sister's delivery was a little too realistic...
Target: Women has a video titled "How To Get Hot Chicks" which lampshades this trope ferociously. "So stop trying to lure a hot chick with sensitivity and courting. Just get 'em stuff they want. Burgers. Cable. It's what guys like anyway!" *pause* "Wait."
Parodied in College Humor's "Powerthirst" ads. "BABIES! You'll have so many babies! Four hundred babies!
The Simpsons parody this trope repeatedly, especially with the Duff Beer commercials. The best, however, involves a nerdy young man driving a convertible through the desert. He stops at a deserted gas station and three scantily-clad women run out and start washing it. The camera zooms in on one of the girl's cleavage...to show a crucifix. "The Catholic Church. We've made a few changes."
Lisa: These Super Bowl commercials have gotten so weird.
Another episode has Homer contemplating infidelity. Like most of us, he turns to the TV for advice. Cue a commercial full of beautiful women working out, panting heavily, and showing off their assets before breathlessly saying "Just do it!" Homer screams and runs out of the room, while the commercial finishes with the woman sexily delivering the line "Have yourself examined for ringworm."
In an episode of DuckTales, Fenton tries to get a promotion from Scrooge by making some sample television commercials... using his hot girlfriend in a bathing suit and fetish-y cosplay such as Little Red Riding Hood.
One episode of Family Guy had a skit set in the Stone Age. When Caveman-Peter built the first wheel, he was unable to sell the idea to his fellow cavemen. So, he tore off most of his wife's clothes to make a Fur Bikini, and had her stand next to the wheel. The other cavemen immediately want to buy Cave-Peter's wheel, saying that they believe it will get them hot women too, reasoning this must be how Peter got his wife.
Another episode shows a commercial for Pawtucket Patriot beer with the tagline "Pawtucket Patriot, If you buy it hot women will have sex in your backyard." Lois scoffs at the crass display of the typical male fantasy — of women drinking beer.