Andrew Martins

Sex Appeal In Advertising: The 1960’s – 1970’s

- In the early 1960's advertisements were mostly product-based and if there was a model involved they were trying to direct your attention to the product, not distract you from it. (1960’s)

- Playboy’s “What Sort of Man Reads Playboy” Ads were revolutionary and demonstrated that men could also be sexually desired targets. (1970’s)

- By the end of the 1960’s culture around North America experienced a sexual revolution and the media portrayed women far more liberally than they once did, locally and nationally. (1970’s)


Four main contributing factors to the sexual revolution in advertising were:

1) The baby-boom. Like every other generation, the younger generation did now want to be like their parents.

2) Medicine advancement that could treat STD’s eliminated fear of contracting one.

3) The PILL – was created by George Pincus and was available to help with menstrual pain in 1959. By the mid 1960’s it
was used as birth control resulting in less fear of pregnancy and being ostracized.

4) The Women’s movement: it began in the 1960’s when women were routing for equality.


- The sexual revolution caused women to no longer be subject to the prototype of the happy housewife, and rather were portrayed much more sexually and liberated. (1970’s)

- By the end of the 1970’s, sexual ads at least those targeted to women came to be considered passé and in bad taste. (1970’s)

- Industry experts predicted that as the Women’s movement grew stronger, sexual appeal casting the women as the sex object would decrease. (1970’s)

- By 1979 only 28% of the fragrance industry still used sex appeal targeting women and the majority of their efforts moved toward showing the youth, status, sports, fantasy and new found respect of the woman. (1970’s)

Andrew Martins’ Sources

Wilson, Dale R., and Noreen K. Moore. "The Role of Sexually-Oriented Stimuli in Advertising: Theory and Literature Review." By R. Dale Wilson and Noreen K. Moore. Association For Consumer Research, n.d. Web. 16 Oct. 2012.

Liu, Jennifer. "Global Media." : The Emergence of Sexuality in Advertisements from French Owned Companies: 1960/1970’s vs 2000/2010’s. Global Media, 3 May 2011. Web. 16 Oct. 2012.

"Sexuality & Modernity: The Sexual Revolution of the 60s."Sexuality & Modernity: The Sexual Revolution of the 60s. Isis Creations, n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2012.

Ciccolini, Kristen. "Media Use and Effects of Sex in Advertisements in 1970s Boston." Topic 1 in Boston Media History Wiki. Boston Media History, 25 Apr. 2007. Web. 16 Oct. 2012.

Reichert, Tom. "The Erotic History of Advertising." The Erotic History of Advertising. Advertising Educational Foundation, n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2012.