Follow TV Tropes


Sex Sells

Go To
Because bracelets make great beachwear.

"Girls with nice hands help selling rings, bracelets, gloves, nail polish... Girls with nice legs help selling stockings, shoes, pantyhose... Girls with nice breasts help selling bras, swimsuits, shirts, TV sets, cars, washing machines, cookies, video games..."
— Folklore

Here's a question for you. Say you have a new product or an old product in new packaging. You want to sell a lot of it and you want to sell it quickly. How? Do you describe it exactly how it is on the tin? Do you try to compare to other products? No way. Just think about it: you want people to buy what you sell. People buy what they like. People like sex. So you should equate what you sell with sex! Easy as pie...served by bikini-clad models.

That is, you use a sexy image on an advertisement to sell the product. The thing is that the product has almost nothing to do with the image. It's simply an attention grabber, or something that causes a Pavlovian response that associates the product with sex.

Also note that, while it is generally acknowledged that sex sells, in most places it's illegal to actually sell it. Furthermore, some studies suggest that sex doesn't sell, inasmuch as while people remember the commercial quite vividly afterwards, they forget the product.

A Super-Trope to Fanservice, Sexy Packaging, Sex for Product, Lady Not-Appearing-in-This-Game, Hood Ornament Hottie, and Charity Workplace Calendar. In a way also of Hollywood Beauty Standards.

A Sister Trope to Rule of Sexy.

Compare Subliminal Advertising, Modeling Poses, Sexposition (this principle applied to exposition).


    open/close all folders 


  • A common form of this, to the point of it being stereotypical, is beer commercials with girls in bikinis.
    • Parodied beautifully by SNL with "Schmitt's Gay Beer."
    • And by Tits & Ass Beer.
    • The beer commercial with the bikini-stuff was parodied in Lucky Star with a Coke commercial showing the Haruhi Suzumiya, with incredibly voluminous breasts.
    • Asahi Beer of Japan for example is very prominent example of this. While some model of the year do dress up in bikinis holding beer, some simply opt for more casual clothing, even if they are noted to be bikini models themselves. They finally abandoned this gimmick during the Covid pandemic, with Riho Takada (of Kamen Rider OOO fame) as the final Asahi Beer model.
  • Frequently overlaps with Celebrity Endorsement when the celebrity is a current sex symbol Britney Spears did some ads for Pepsi, and Christina Aguilera did some ads for Coke.
  • There is this Miller Lite commercial (and its sequel, complete with lampshade hanging)
  • A Carl's Jr. ad with Paris Hilton.
  • This French commercial goes over the top, using computer animated furries in a very suggestive and well choreographed song and dance. Includes sensual dancing, bouncy breasts, Scenery Censor, and lots of splashing fluids and climactic imagery. What is it all about? Orangina Juice! Later commercials however have become milder compared to that one though.
  • There was a commercial where they had a couple making out while going down in an elevator while a security guard watches giving them looks when they get out of the elevator. In the end, what's the ad for? Dasani Bottled Water.
  • The Green M&M, straight-up. Cree Summer's sultry voice only makes you want to bite into her all the more.
    • Although the bit of American teen girl folklore that "eating green M&Ms makes you horny" precedes the commercials by at least five years, so once the company started producing commercials with anthropomorphized M&Ms this became a sort of Ascended Fanon.
  • An ad several years ago in South Africa featured women in Victoria's Secret-esque lingerie and underwear, frequently draping themselves over mounds of...chocolate.
  • There's a commercial for POM, a pomegranate juice, which has a naked woman lying somewhat on her side but managing to avoid showing anything with a python lying on her.
  • A series of ads for potato chips displays a trail of them across the floor of a darkened house, accompanied by a trail of removed clothing, until finally disappearing into the bedroom or leading up to the bed. The implication, obviously, is that "these chips will give you sex". (For best results, imagine that phrase spoken in the voice of a Latin Lover.)
  • Wendy's for decades was all about the wholesome ads featuring the founder, Dave Thomas, occasionally mentioning his daughter Wendy (the namesake of the restaurant chain), who appeared much later on. As of April 2012, the ads feature a very attractive young 20-something redhead that looks more like what people are more likely to think (or in some cases, hope) an adult version of the cute perky redheaded child on the logo looks like. Oddly enough, this hot and sexy "Wendy" looks nothing like the real Wendy, but as the trope says, sex sells.
    • Oddly, the real Melinda Lou "Wendy" Thomas—who goes by her married name Morse—started showing up in commercials for the company in around 2010, even though the "perky sexy Wendy" was still very much on the airwaves. This was especially odd because Wendy Morse was at this point in her late 40s-early 50s, is built like her father was, and otherwise looks like a pretty typical Midwestern suburban mom.note  These tend to focus on the freshness of the ingredients, rather than the "young Wendy" commercials, which flog specific meals. Sometimes these commercials air back-to-back, particularly when the real Wendy commercial is pitching the chain's promotions involving the adoption charity her father started.
  • This ad from late 1990s Russia. Woman's buttocks covered with something white (hopefully flour, dough or hoarfrost) and a slogan "Your favourite pelmeshki" (meat dumplings sold frozen). Makes perfect sense, since said dumplings are the stereotypic food of unmarried men who don't like to cook. By the way, the ad agency charged the client extra to cover possible fines for public indecency, but that proved unnecessary. Also worth mentioning that the frozen food company was then owned by a man, who maintains a public image of The Wonka.
  • In Taiwan, selling betelnuts is done by pretty young women who attract customers by wearing very, very skimpy clothing. Just to make sure everyone gets a good view, they sit in transparent, brightly lit booths on the side of the roads.

  • An ad for a perfume called "Eden" featured a topless woman prancing about in a lush jungle environment. It can be seen on Youtube if you enter the keywords "eden" and "cacharel".
  • Adverts for Axe (or Lynx, depending on the country you live) products. All of them. Their entire marketing campaign revolves around this trope.
  • Herbal Essences ads. Or any shampoo/conditioner/soap or "body wash" really. It's all the same basic principle "THINK ABOUT SEX! THINK ABOUT SEX! Now that's got your attention - shampoo."
    • And by extension, any shaving device. Male ones, after cutting from the begoggled nerds in lab coats who supposedly invented the thing, always have a nice shot of a chiseled chin, along with a Shirtless Scene that involves various amounts abs. Female ones rarely never show anything besides the woman's long shapely legs.
    • Explicitly referenced in the one where Homer gets a job writing fortune cookie fortunes: one he pitches is "You will be aroused by a shampoo commercial" - the owner pauses, says that's not bad, then gives him the job.
    • And of course, the Old Spice ads, which simultaneously parody this phenomenon and play it straight with their buff male protagonist/announcer. "Anything is possible when your man uses Old Spice body wash. I'm on a horse."
  • A Head & Shoulders advert aimed at men turns a simple shower into pure fanservice when six nurses burst into the shower to aid his shampoo efforts. You might wonder what attractive uniformed ladies with sexy curves have to do with washing your hair. That is if you even remember what the ad was selling once it started.
  • This UK advert features a young woman casually strolling through a field, completely naked... and then she turns to the camera to reveal she has a tooth missing. It's an ad for mouthwash.
  • A commercial for a St. Ives skin lotion shows a woman making flirtatious expressions and dancing in her underwear while the camera zooms in on her stomach, back, bare shoulders, legs, and feet to a jaunty rendition of "Head, Shoulders Knees and Toes". It's been described as the most upbeat striptease on television.

  • Former Trope Namer: the notorious UK "Hello Boys" poster campaign for Wonderbra featuring model Eva Herzigova.
  • There's another ad for Levis' 501 jeans or something to that effect which features two "teenagers" stripping down and talking to each other about trust. Then they jump in the water. Cue gratuitous panty shot. Male Gaze no kidding.
  • Reebok normally sells sneakers. Then they created the EasyTone, a shoe that supposedly strengthens and tones the leg and buttock muscles,note  and decided to sell sex instead.
  • While underwear companies are naturally prone to this trope, the ones that cater to gay men—such as Andrew Christian—are extra-shameless, with ads that are basically "Look at these half-naked guys fooling around! (Oh and buy our shorts.)"
  • Retail clothing brand American Apparel is infamous for using this as a central part of the majority of their advertising campaigns.
  • Ditto for Abercrombie & Fitch. Their A&F Quarterly magazine/catalog, published from 1997 until 2003, was sold as something of a modern-day version of old-school Playboy with its mix of sex appeal, lifestyle articles, and interviews with figures ranging from actors and socialites to authors and philosophers; Izzy Grinspan, writing for Racked, described it as a "highbrow frat party". It both drove sales to A&F's stores (reaching peak circulation of 200,000 subscriptions) and made the company a lightning rod for controversy and boycotts, with The Last Straw for the latter coming with their 2003 Christmas Field Guide, which contained oral sex tips, images of group sex, and a note from the editor that cheekily listed off the bipartisan roster of Moral Guardians they'd managed to anger. Said Moral Guardians finally got the magazine canceled after that one (barring one-offs in 2008 and 2010).
  • Underwear and foundation garments aimed at women in their sixties and seventies are always modelled by women who are at most in their forties (often younger), and who look as if they have no need at all to wear this sort of garment. As well as the photos in print advertising, QVC and similar sales channels on TV always use photogenic younger women to model this sort of clothing.

  • Then there are hot models draped over cars.
    • Or if it's Up Marketing, women in fancy clothes, but still looking beautiful.
  • A Honda commercial has a rather subtle example: Animated mascot Mr. Opportunity has a live action girlfriend on his arm as he talks about the car company's annual clearance. When he says "It's the only thing from Honda that won't last," his girlfriend giggles.
    • In an ad for their newly redesigned minivan, Honda has a couple walking out (presumably from a dinner or function as they're dressed in evening clothes) and seeing a red minivan (theirs?) with rose petals spilling out the door, champagne on ice between the seats, the super-high-tech entertainment system playing Luther Vandross, and the rear cargo space filled with oysters on the half-shell. The couple smile suggestively at each other and walk towards the car (ignoring that having purchased a minivan in the first place is tacit admission that your sex life is over.)
  • A rather bizarre example from a Swedish car commercial features two ladybugs engage quite wildly inside a car, rocking the entire thing and drawing gazes from people on the street.

  • These old sexual video game advertisements used to be a trend, using scantily-clad women or Vulgar Humor to attract people to these "toys", including some for the Game Boy! You know, Nintendo's supposed to be family-friendly...
  • The advertisements and box art for X3: Reunion featured a woman in a somewhat revealing costume. The kicker is X3 is a space trading and combat sim notorious for its 'cockpits-eye view' even when docked at a station. Excluding a couple of cutscenes, the player literally never interacts face-to-face with any other characters, including the box-art woman.
  • Ads running on this very site for an Age of Empires/Civilization rip-off freeware game called Evony frequently spend most of their ad space up with a picture of a scantily-clad woman (or rather just her torso) and the comment, "Your queen awaits, my Lord." Of course, going to the site and playing the game will make you realize that there is no queen in the game.
    • "Come play now, my lord".
    • And that's one of their earlier ads. Their later adverts? There are no words.
    • As far as ads for similar games on this wiki are concerned, see also Flyff, Perfect World, Shaiya, Last Chaos, Legend of Mir3, Mabinogi, The Seventh Dragon, Kingdom Heroes, Rappelz, League of Angels, and no doubt a few that have dropped off the map. (Remember that one with the blissful elf chick in the leather underwear? What was that called?) However, Evony has left them all way behind at this point.
    • The Civony/Evony ads are cheaply parodied (how else could you parody it?) by an Alteil ad where the skinsuit elf girl has a caption that says "She is actually in our game, my lord".
    • AdventureQuest isn't exactly innocent of this tactic, although their ads look perfectly tasteful compared to the competition, but they have also parodied Evony's "play discreetly" campaign. "Pants, m'lord?"
    • An Aika Online advertisement had a woman with a very Stripperiffic set of armor, where the breast cups were upside down, a ring at the bottom of the cups (blank skin only showed preventing any naughty bits), and straps going downwards. The images were quickly altered by moving the guy next to her so his sword and shield now hides the Fail.
    • The Evony ads are parodied in a Plants vs. Zombies ad.
    • There are also similar "here's a scantily-clad babe who TOTALLY is in our game!" ads floating around for a "Wartune" RPG that proclaim "MALE GAMERS ONLY" and "ADULT CONTENT". They're not even trying to hide the egregious Double Standard here.
  • In the same vein as Evony, there's an animated ad on this wiki for a game apparently called Pristontale2, consisting of your standard blue-skinned Amazon in a backwards corset breathing in, breathing out, breathing in, breathing out...
  • Every Grand Theft Auto game (since the third) features a beautiful woman on the cover of the box art, despite the fact that they don't actually appear in the game. The one exception is the hooker in III (Misty), whose role is extremely minor. Considering that each game always has a few significant female characters, you'd think they'd use one of them.
    • In Chinatown Wars, the sexy Ling appears on both the cover and a poster included with the game. She survives for barely one mission.
    • The woman on the cover of The Ballad of Gay Tony (Joni) appears in-game.
      • And you can have sex with her.
  • In a similar vein, the Brazil-made Pro Evolution Soccer "Bomba Patch" mods for the PlayStation 2 are almost always marketed (illegally) with a bikini girl, who has nothing to do with the game (unless they decide to put more such pictures on the menu backgrounds, which would still be within the trope's scope), on the cover for this very reason.
  • Aksys' marketing of Record of Agarest War played up the Fanservice to absurd levels, including a fake "censored" ad, and a pillowcase and "boob" ergonomic mousepad packaged with the special edition. It's actually a Dating Sim/Strategy RPG with levels of Fanservice reaching the high end of normal for a Dating Sim — it can get pretty thick at times, but you're not going to be tripping over suggestive scenes every five seconds like they make it seem.
  • Oddly enough, Japanese musician and Bishōnen GACKT was used to promote Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. He appeared in the Japanese commercials and there is also a dogtag in the game with his name on it. This is despite the fact that Gackt himself had nothing to do with the game and didn't even sing a theme song for it.
  • Ads for Rappelz show a woman wearing Stripperiffic armor and the slogan "Discover the luscious hills and valleys of Rappelz."
  • An internet game called Soccer Star (advertised on this very site). If having a buxom blonde in a soccer ball bikini top weren't enough, the "balls" shimmer and even briefly enlarge, meant to draw your eyes toward them.

  • There's an advert for Aero in which a man wrapped in a towel explains suggestively what makes Aeros so nice. It's lampshaded at the end of the advert; two women in voiceover converse thus:
    Oh, so that's why Aeros are so bubbly and delicious.
    You know, like he just said.
    He was speaking?
    • There's also a funny advert running for AirMax, where a beautiful woman, with big breasts and booty, gets her clothes blown off by opening packages. She is left standing in front of the two men butt naked, and the last frame shown is her naked butt.
  • There is an Italian commercial featuring beautiful women draped over...coffins. The same coffin firm did at least two erotic calendars.
  • While not explicitly using sexual imagery, Vince Offer slipped in some dialogue that could easily be interpreted as a double entendre while advertising for the Slap Chop.
    "You're gonna love my nuts."
  • Ads where ladies wear fur coats and swimsuits, although they are not as popular now for obvious reasons.
  • The exploitative undertones of PETA's anti-fur campaigns. Yes, naked models are so beneficial to animal liberation.
  • The Sun is quite (in)famous for its use of its topless Page Three Stunna to sell propaganda.
  • Super Bowl ads used to be this, with a level of unapologetic blatancy that is hard to describe. They started moving away from this during the early 2010s, likely because the raunchy ads were hurting their brand image. An ad from 2011 lampshaded this by having race car driver Danica Patrick introduce the new GoDaddy Girl... who turns out to be Joan Rivers.
  • One really bizarre commercial for had the spokeswoman listing things you could buy on the site in the form of "it's all about the [product or value of the product]" or something along these lines. It's perfectly normal until the very last shot before the logo screen, where the spokeswoman appears to be wearing nothing but a gold necklace for some reason, and saying "But sometimes, it's all about the gold", presumably to emphasize that it really is all about the gold.
  • A UK advertisement used models seductively posing in their underwear to sell sofas. That's right, sofas.
  • Political rather than product sale, but Yuliya Tymoshenko intentionally and openly flaunts her sex appeal to bank more voters. She's one of the country's most powerful politicians, so it works.
  • Lampshaded in an old joke about an Eskimo who wrote to Sears and Roebuck to complain that the product he ordered hadn't come with the beautiful model that was sitting on it. Variations of that joke are probably in diverse places.
    • During the Winter War Finnish propaganda leaflets promising large sums of money to defectors had come with pictures of models. One historian invokes that jokes by claiming that the few Russians to accept were rather disappointed.
  • Too many webcomics to count just advertise with a drawing of a hot chick while saying little or nothing about the actual comic.
  • Anybody who's cracked open a radio control car magazine at some point has probably come across a full page ad for Acer Racing consisting of a woman in lingerie, possibly with the product (ball bearings) positioned inconspicuously about her person.
  • As far as movie trailers go, chances are that if it's a comedy or action movie, or just a film that's there to make quick money, the T&A will be heavily marketed. If a male character has a shirtless scene, it's going in the trailer. Ditto for female underwear scenes or even skimpy clothing. Examples:
    • Constantine (2005) gave clear focus to Keanu Reeves appearing shirtless. He is shirtless for about a minute onscreen.
    • Good Luck Chuck was heavily marketed as being a Jessica Alba film despite her being a secondary character.
    • The Almost Famous poster with Kate Hudson showing off her long legs. (Interestingly, she shows off more than that in the actual film.)
    • You'd be lucky to find a shot of the actors (including the aforementioned Miss Alba) wearing clothes in the trailer for Into the Blue. Not that they wear much clothes in the movie either...
    • The King Arthur (2004) poster not only had Guinevere in her battle costume front and center (she's about third in terms of character importance), they photoshopped Keira Knightley's breasts to look bigger. They also did the same thing to Emma Watson on one of the posters for Order of the Phoenix and Kate Hudson on the poster for Fool's Gold.
    • S1m0ne had the titular character nude on the poster when she doesn't even appear nude in the film.
  • Many gaming/comic/other conventions and expos are heavily populated with "booth babes"—young women hired entirely for their ability to stand around and almost violate the dress code, theoretically attracting lustful customers.
  • Done actually quite well in one advert featuring Rachel Stevens, writhing around half naked on a bed and inviting watching men to put their hand down their trousers and play with their balls... to check for the first tell-tale signs of testicular cancer.
  • For younger fans of Star Wars, seeing the original poster for the 1977 original can be a bit of a shocker, as it's a pretty egregious case of Covers Always Lie: Luke Skywalker is shown wearing an open shirt that leaves his chest exposed, and Princess Leia is shown wearing a skimpy white dress with a split side and a low neckline, leaving her thigh and her cleavage exposed. Not only do neither of them actually wear costumes that show that much flesh, the artist gets a bit "creative" with Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher's actual appearances, depicting Hamill as quite a bit more muscular than he actually is, and depicting Fisher as being quite a bit bustier than she really is.
  • Like Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian above, Kate Upton takes this trope and runs with it for Carl's Jr.
  • An Israeli campaign from 2003 for breast cancer awareness invoked this by showing a close-up photo of a cleavage:
    • This campaign was harshly criticised for using this Trope, and was parodised in a contemporary comedy show:
    'Some commercials use this with no reason. We have an excellent reason: we're horny!'
  • "I'm Hannah Davis and I have DirecTV" (Hannah on a beach in a skimpy bikini). "And I'm Cat Lady Hannah Davis and I have cable" (self-explanatory).
    • The people who like the DirecTV ads with Hannah and the talking horse for the talking horse are balanced out by those who like them for Hannah. Which may have been the intention.
  • There's an ad showing a sexy female cop searching an equally sexy woman while she has her hands on the hood of her car.
  • There's a business in southern Wisconsin whose ads have a sultry female voiceover, accompanied by wolf-whistles, talking about their 'hot mix', as in asphalt, because they're a paving company. It's...confusing.
  • This ad for Pioneer Elastoseal, a roof sealant brand in the Philippines, where a man attempting to repair one's roof in the middle of a storm chances upon a model soaking wet in rain and doing the obligatory sexy poses.
  • Part of the appeal of moechara, the humanoid counterpart to the often goofy and cartoony yuruchara that adorn all kinds of Japanese ads. Moechara are typically drawn as Moe Anthropomorphisms of the associated product, and either take the form of cute girls or handsome guys in flattering themed clothing.
  • An earlier line of Herbal Essences commercials had women moaning and squealing with delight while in the shower (using the shampoo, of course), ending with an exhilarated "Yes! Yes! YES!" as they see how shiny their hair has become. The tagline? "A totally organic experience."
  • In this commercial for a Samsung cell phone, a family man is leaving for a business trip. His two young daughters excitedly tell him that they made him a video and link their cell phones with his to upload it (a new feature for the phone). Then his wife walks up and says "I made you a video too," and links her phone with his, but quickly adds, "You probably shouldn't watch it on the plane." This commercial somehow made it on ABC.
    Mrs. Claus: You probably shouldn't watch it on the sleigh!
  • In this 2013 ad for DraftKings set in a "fantasy sports hall of fame", the tour guide states that one of the winners "went from a guy with holes in his underpants, to bikini models in them!"
    • Furthermore, the earliest versions of the commercial said you could win a boatload of money, but later versions changed it to "shipload", which seems synonymous but is not a real saying and sounds suspiciously like "shitload". Again, this is the newer version of the commercial.
  • Klondike's ads for its Kandy Bars line, which are literally porn parodies without the sex. Specifically, they feature a typical porny set-up such as a patient and a sexy nurse or an astronaut and a group of sexy aliens, except in each scenario the man is a Klondike bar and the sexy women are candy bars. Before anything sexy happens, the scenario cuts away to a man explaining to his confused girlfriend that's how the Kandy Bars were made. The tagline is "The best ice cream bars ever conceived." And if YouTube comments are to be believed, the funky music in these commercials is the same music used in actual pornographic movies.
    • Delissio (the Canadian name for DiGiorno pizza) did an ad on the same theme. The punchline was that the woman and the "pizza delivery guy" were a husband and wife role playing, and their kid walks in and corrects them about it being delivery (saying the tagline "It's not delivery, it's Delissio/Digiorno") along with "And you're not a real pizza delivery guy, DAD. No wonder I don't have any friends."
  • A minor controversy around Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! was a campaign done by the Japanese Red Cross using Uzaki's image for a blood donation drive (more specifically one where, despite being fully clothed, her huge breasts stand out). Needless to say, and despite the detractors (or maybe thanks to them), the campaign was quite a success.
  • TV advertising for adapted baths and showers for the elderly and the disabled will invariably show a far younger and able-bodied model, invariably female and at most in her forties, to demonstrate how it works. The same applies to furniture adverts for age/disability-adapted furniture.

    Anime & Manga 

  • Alphonse Mucha is generally seen as a wonderful artist whose best-known work happened to be poster designs, some decorative, some, however, originally selling cigarettes or bicycles or whatever. It just also happens that the characteristic Mucha poster design shows an attractive and often lightly-clad young woman.

  • Comedian Bill Hicks believed the eventual evolution of this trope would be this:
    "Here's the woman's body. Beautiful. Camera pulls back. Naked breasts. Camera pulls back. She's totally naked, legs apart, two fingers right here... and it just says, 'Drink Coke.' Now I don't know the connection here, but Coke is on my shopping list this week."
  • Similarly, comedian Gabriel Iglesias joked that his favorite part of Mexican television is the commercials, where everything is pitched with sexy models.
  • The Russian show Yesterday Live has an ad parody where a girl is shown, and a voice says "First you tried to get a tan in a one piece swimsuit, and there were tan lines (shown). Then a bikini, and there were still tan lines (shown). And then, you tried to go topless—", at which point the girl starts complaining "Why should I go topless for a toothpaste ad?"

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • In Equestria: A History Revealed, with regards to the fall of the Equinus Republic, the Lemony Narrator's reasoning behind why Celestia had to keep such an event quiet was that if ponies realized that democracy led to sexy orgies, that would totally support it, or at least pay bits for it.
  • In the Parody Fic Farce Contact, this is used to explain the change from female crewmembers wearing the pragmatic overalls of Star Trek: Enterprise to the miniskirt and knee-high boots of Star Trek: The Original Series.
    "That's just so more people will pay attention to what's happening on Enterprise," said Archer. "It's a basic principle that any space program can't exist without public support and media interest. Starfleet is calling it the Prime Time Directive."
  • In the Splatoon fic Her Fractured Spirit, Callie and Marie's first hit single was "Ink Me Up". It's suggestive title caused them to be put in the limelight.
  • Triptych Continuum: Three Hundred and Sixty Degrees of Saturation: How the shower that starts the plot is advertised, with a mare using it:
    And at the center of all that moisture was a mare.
    She was an extremely pretty mare. Her ears were just about ideally shaped, her barrel was of the most favored dimensions, and her mane and tail couldn't really be examined too closely because they were hanging from her in long, wet curtains of hair.
    Her horn glowed with gentle pink. A half-encased bar of soap lightly touched her fur. Suds ensued.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Beyond the Lights, Noni's record label bases her entire image as a singer off of this belief. You can see for yourself.
  • In Big Trouble, Eliot Arnold (Tim Allen) has a small advertising firm and the Client From Hell who wants to advertise his beer. The client insists that the beer display be "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!".
  • The Girl From Monday: This is discussed in the film. Advertising has linked sex with consumption to such a degree, Triple M can convince most people to turn all sexual encounters into a form of commercial act.
  • The Hucksters: Evans the soap tycoon thinks this, insisting that Kay pose in a negligee for the soap advertisement. Victor, who sees Kay's extreme reluctance and is already falling in love with her, insists that they go with a different ad that shows Kay posed in a more motherly fashion with her kids.
  • Pretty Cool Too: The main protagonist accidentally uses his mind-control phone to give this suggestion to a sales girl, causing her to talk dirty in all her calls.
  • In Sound Eroticism, when a near-bankrupt crate factory's manager starts showing security camera footage of the female employee's dressing room to the customers, the crate sells suddenly skyrocket.
  • In The Stuff, one of the ads being filmed has models Going Fur a Swim (for both sexiness and Up Marketing) as they strut down a catwalk, holding containers of the eponymous food.
  • The poster for Undercover Brother prominently features "White She Devil" (Denise Richards) front-and-center—wearing skintight white pants with her butt to the camera. Naturally, she's the only character in the poster whose back is turned.


By Author

  • Common in works of Stanisław Lem, especially humorous and satirical ones. For example in The Washing Machine Tragedy (from Memoirs of a Space Traveler) washing machine makers start with giving their machines sexy voices and rudimentary AI, but the competition quickly leads to sexy robotic maids who start, ahem, to provide other services (as well as seduce children and rob banks).

By Title:

  • In MARiiMO, Tammy complains about this strategy — she hates having a movie interrupted for several minutes of awkward groping that contribute nothing to the plot or characters.
  • Naked Came the Stranger is a notorious hoax novel that was written by a team of journalists led by Mike McGrady in 1969. McGrady believed that American culture had sunken so low that anything sex-filled would be seen as desirable, so he plotted to write a disgusting sex-filled romance novel that was deliberately poorly-written to prove his theory. His theory was proven correct; once the word was out that the novel was a hoax, it quickly became popular.
  • In The Republic Of Shkid, two students attempt to create a toy cinema (or, rather, a slide show) for entertainment. At first, it's quite popular among other students, but once they decide to charge money, the amount of visits drops dramatically. So they decide to make an adult movie. People do come, a lot of them... but the next day, they are reported to the headmaster.
  • In The Sorrows of Satan, Lucio advises struggling writer Geoffrey that in order for his books to be successful, they must be indecent, so that they will be both praised by critics for being "advanced" and purchased by schoolgirls who are curious about sex.
  • An accidental version in Spitfire Girls by Carol Gould. An aviatrix is pitching the idea of using female pilots for ferry duties. As she leads some VIP-s around the airfield, one of them barges through a door without knocking and sees a pretty pilot with her skirt hitched up, adjusting her suspenders. Later she muses that the flash of garter might have been more effective in gaining a supporter than anything she might have said.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On Boy Meets World, Shawn gets a job as the assistant to an advertising executive and is asked to come up with ideas from a toothpaste campaign. Shawn think of a "sexy fresh breath" campaign but Cory recommends he choose a bacteria-based campaign because "sex does not sell". Shawn of course chooses the sexy breath one which the boss ends up liking.
  • For All Mankind. When the Soviets put the first woman on the Moon, the Nixon administration insists that NASA put their own woman up there, preferably someone pretty and blonde. They're not happy when Molly Cobb is selected, despite her being the best candidate.
  • In an episode of Friends, where Chandler is interviewing for a job with an advertising agency, one of the interviewees has an idea for a shoe commercial that ends with: "...and then the girls get out of the hot tub, and start making out!" The interviewer replies, "Very interesting, except for one problem. You forgot to mention the shoes."
  • In The IT Crowd, the episode "Calendar Geeks" features this trope prominently. Roy manages to talk the women of the seventh floor into doing a nude calendar as a fundraiser for "boss-eyed-ness", selflessly offering to be the photographer. Jen gets offended when she finds out, since she views nude calendars as sexist and degrading, so she persuades the women to change the plan and sell a calendar of their grandmothers instead. Unfortunately, by this point Douglas has learned about the original plan and informs Jen that she's now responsible for getting the calendar to raise a million pounds. Jen, realizing that grannies don't sell nearly as well as sex, desperately turns to Moss and his friends in an attempt to cash in on the "geek chic" trend.
  • Mad Men:
    • Don Draper describes this expression as over-simplifying things. Basically, he argues, people want to be the product. So, people buying perfume want to be Gwyneth Paltrow.
    • More specifically, in a scene when he tells Peggy to use less sexual imagery in an ad for an airline, she quotes the trope name at him (essentially parroting back what he said at a meeting earlier that day), and he responds sharply: "Says who? Just so you know, the people who talk that way think that monkeys can do this."
  • After Michael left The Office (US), James Spader played one of the applicants interviewed to replace him. When asked how he would sell paper, he explained that "There is no such thing as a product. Don't ever think there is. There is only sex. Everything is sex." After he left the room, Jim commented that "He creeps me out... but I think he might be a genius."
  • An in-story example can be seen in Queer as Folk (US) with Brian Kinney being the supposedly great commercial producer, though he's largely a one-trick pony. Selling booze? Use the sex angle. Selling Viagra? The sex angle. A charity carnival? Make it sexy. A Republican campaign? Use the sex angle! It isn't the only approach he uses, however; it's just the one that works best.
  • Saturday Night Live featured a sensual parody commercial for the real estate site Zillow that was shot like an ad for a sex hotline, with the justification that people in their late thirties get more aroused by looking at their dream houses. That is, until they contact the obnoxious agent and she snaps them into reality.
  • Parodied in Seinfeld, where the ad Jerry's Girl of the Week was modeling for featured her getting out of the shower with nothing but a towel... and the jeans she was advertising way in the corner on a chair. Jerry had to squint to see them.
  • Lampshaded when an episode of Top Gear (UK) has Clarkson and May make commercials for a VW Scirocco Diesel. Setting up a scene, Clarkson tells an attractive actress she should be wearing a bikini. Then, he remembers they're supposed to be filming a funeral scene; he immediately changes it to "a black bikini."
  • Who's the Boss?: Tony takes an advertising class and makes a commercial for women's shampoo using a sexy lady coming out of the shower in just a small towel. Then Angela, who actually works in advertising, points out that his commercial won't actually sell the product because it's marketing to men but the product is for women.

  • Apartment Wrestling used to be a fairly private phenomenon done by house wives until Stanley Weston convinced Bill Apter that money could be made by showing photos of their matches in his magazines. The most famous photos from the "apartment circuit" came from The Fabulous Moolah, who rented apartment rooms for the purpose of taking posed photos of the students of her wrestling school grappling with one another.

  • The Switchfoot song "Easier Than Love" discusses this trope.

  • Bally's Playboy pinball is an unabashed excuse to put lots of scantily-clad women on a pinball machine. And it worked, becoming the fourth-best-selling table of all time.
    • Data East tried the same thing with their Playboy 35th Anniversary pinball, but it didn't work for them — fewer than 2,400 tables were sold.
    • Played painfully straight with Stern Pinball's Playboy; not only does it support fully-nude Playmates in the game itself, but advertisements depict several scantily-clad Playmates hiding behind the table.
  • Viper is memorable for two things: its rotating pinball-shooter turret, and the sexy chrome Fembot on the backglass.
    • Similarly, Iron Maiden (by the same artist) is most noted for the attractive cyborg woman on the backglass.
  • Black Rose is a milder case, with Captain Rose herself depicted on the backglass illogically wearing a red corset into battle. A fully topless "X-rated" version of the illustration was also proposed for European markets, but it was never produced.
  • One of the premium versions of AC/DC is the "Luci" edition, with the backglass and cabinet decorated with the Hot as Hell girl Luci and her friends. Near as anyone can tell, the only reason for this edition is to invoke this trope.
  • Zaccaria's Farfalla is famous for the sexy, near-nude butterfly fairy on its backglass.

    Pro Wrestling 

    Video Games 
  • BMX XXX tried very hard to market itself to the "horny straight male" demographic that people imagine makes up most gamers, with nudity and erotic content (such as the option to play as a topless woman, and unlockable videos of strippers) added to the game at the last minute in a desperate attempt to boost sales. Despite this, the game flopped to the point where it was one of the titles that pushed the already struggling Acclaim Entertainment to bankruptcy, and Dave Mirra disowned himself from the project.
  • Exaggerated in Cyberpunk 2077. One ad showed nothing but a naked woman holding her breasts out for two dogs in front of her. This was for dog food.
  • Dead or Alive: Despite its mechanics and steep learning curve, the main draw of the series has always been its fanservice, Jiggle Physics, and plentiful female character models.
  • EverQuest is probably best known for the scantily clad elf woman on the box. Her name is Firiona Vie, and although she's technically a big deal in the game's lore, she's also pretty much Lady Not-Appearing-in-This-Game. EverQuest II went the same direction with Antonia Bayle. However, roughly about 2009 SoE deliberately phased out the sexy cover art for their games.
  • Final Fantasy XIV Players desiring sexy female avatars have generally used the miqo'te and au'ra girls as their staples. However, they are sexy in the cute and petite sense and there were poor choices for curvaceous women due to all the races' womens' notoriously flat butts. This was remedied by the tall, curvaceous elf-bunny race viera and many were happy to buy the premium race change potion to use on their existing character. As for sexy, muscle endowed male characters, players often choose au ra men, if horns and patches of reptilian scales are your thing.
  • Goddess of Victory: NIKKE has a relatively shameless ad campaign that repeatedly reminds its target audience about the game's gorgeous women and third-person shooter combat with jiggly butts and thighs. In fact, many of the more common ads are censored compared to the actual game because they're Too Hot for TV.
  • Scarlet Blade very much runs with this. Six out of its seven classes are females, they wear very Stripperiffic armor, and it features a nightclub where the characters can dance wearing only Barely-There Swimwear.
  • Tomb Raider wasn't this originally, but after the first game became a big hit, Eidos marketed the later games where Lara would be in provocative poses and other similar situations. It worked well enough to make the games sell millions.
  • Touhou Project games are generally very conservative when it comes to coverage of the clothes worn by the characters (apart from lots of frills and the occasional miniskirt), but very rarely they're a bit more daring:

    Visual Novels 

  • Invoked by Bob the Angry Flower to cover up the fact that he can't actually reconcile quantum physics with general relativity. Word of God is that this is a self-referencing strip, since how many of you noticed that the remaining frames are mostly just outline drawings?
  • El Goonish Shive: Played with. It's not an official strategy of the comic book store Justin works at, but his friends Nanase and Ellen hang out there a lot, and though they hardly buy anything, the presence of two hot girls in the shop drives up sales.
  • Gaia: An ad has Viviana as shown in this comic in her underwear, and Lilith retorting using her image in the last panel of this comic:
    Viviana: Now let's see if more people click on our ads when I pose for them in my underwear.
    Lilith: You're such a sellout, Viviana!
  • Girl Genius: Upon arriving to Paris, Agatha is dismayed to discover that her image is quite popular on posters advertising for various products — said illustrations being very often scantily clad. Up to one advert for Turkish drinking chocolate where she's wearing nothing but a Modesty Towel. Later on, Colette sends Tarvek a whole portfolio of advertising posters, which he and Gil watches appreciatively (most of them hidden from the readers, unfortunately).
  • Head Trip asks: Are they selling clothes or...?

    Web Original 
  • Skippy's List has examples:
    42. Not allowed to attempt to appeal to mankind's baser instincts in recruitment posters.
  • Whateley Universe: Discussed here when Tina is auditioning for being the band at the Halloween Dance:
    Mr. King turned to face the audience in a parody of her stance, muscles clenched tightly, gripping his mic with both hands, knuckles white, "I feel like I've been locked up tight, for a century of lonely nights... no wonder you're locked up, you look constipated! You're probably in hospital for a ruptured bowel. THIS IS A PERFORMANCE! MOVE! You're a girl, for God's sake, move that ass, baby!"
    Mr. King span and wiggled his ass at the audience for emphasis, "Strut that stuff, girl! If you've got it, flaunt it! Sex sells. If you think Christina got where she was on her voice alone, you are sadly mistaken.


    Web Videos 
  • Atop the Fourth Wall: This trope got discussed in Lewis's review of All Star Batman And Robin, where he says that, in fact, this trope isn't true because if it was, ASBAR would be a best seller rather than a total flop. Porn sells, but simply inserting gratuitous fanservice in the form of scantily clad female characters into a mainstream comic book will not make up for the book being otherwise awful.
  • Brian David Gilbert parodies this trope in the video "Don't Tell Your Wife About This Game!", which parodies these kinds of mobile game ads and the demographics that it appeals to. It is then deconstructed and Played for Drama when the person it's tantalizing is in an unhappy marriage and wants to use the game as a distraction instead of breaking the relationship off.

    Western Animation 
  • Mocked in the Dilbert episode The Infomercial, where the eponymous infomercial for the Gruntmaster 6000 features a beautiful blond model in a pink bathing suit, and the Pointy-Haired Boss trying to talk about the actual product, but he kept fainting and conking his head against the ground due to the sight of her.
  • Family Guy:
    • In the Season 13 episode "Baking Bad", this trope is the advice that Glen Quagmire gives to Peter when Peter and his wife, Lois, open a up a cookie bakery that has trouble attracting more customers—it works when Peter hires six female strippers with cookie-themed names, but, Peter being Peter, he ends up taking it to the extreme when he turns his and Lois's cookie bakery into a full-on strip club that merely distributes free cookies.
    • A first or second season episode has Lois scoffing at a beer commercial that follows this trope, because "Women drinking beer" is something she found ridiculous.
    • Another episode showed Peter's caveman ancestor inventing the wheel, but it doesn't sell until Cave-Brian has Cave-Lois stand next to it while wearing a Fur Bikini.
  • In Futurama episode "Attack of the Killer App" Fry makes a video explaining his political views, and it turns off all his viewers. Bender quickly repeats the process, but has Amy in a bikini doing the explaining. It gets a ludicrous number of views.
  • In the second-season premiere of The Legend of Korra, Verrick uses the newly-invented movie camera to film Ginger the showgirl striking different poses, and says that movies should have "romance."
  • In the episode "Rixty Minutes" of Rick and Morty, the titular characters view a commercial for "Turbulent Juice", which features buff, attractive men wearing tight clothing suggestively spraying a substance all over themselves and various locations in a house. But it's so obsessed with showing off sex that it never actually got around to saying what the commercial was selling.
    Morty: What in the hell?!
    Rick: Sex sells, Morty.
    Morty: Sex sells what? Is it a movie, or does it clean stuff?
  • The Simpsons:
    • Kent Brockman's "Eye on Springfield" segment is prefaced with a quick montage featuring mostly hot women in bikinis.
    • When Bart runs for class president, he puts up a poster that reads "SEX! Now that I have your attention, vote Bart.
    • Marge and Lisa watch a commercial where a guy drives up to a gas station and honks his horn, causing hot women to come out and start suggestively washing his car. It then zooms in on them wearing crosses. "The Catholic Church. We've made some changes."
      Lisa: These Super Bowl commercials are weird.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Sexy Bait, Hello Boys


Ferengi Programming

Boimler ends up sidetracked watching Ferengi programming such as "Pog & Dar: Cop Landlords", a buddy cop show about two Ferengi cops who are also landlords, and "Will They, Won't They", a work com where everyone is secretly in love with each other.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (15 votes)

Example of:

Main / ShowWithinAShow

Media sources: