Consumer Responses to Explicit Sexual Stimuli in Advertising: Artistic vs Provocative Style

  •  Marcello Tedeschi    
  •  Beatrice Luceri    
  •  Sabrina Latusi    
  •  Donata Vergura    
  •  Cristina Zerbini    


This study extends prior research on sexual appeal advertising by developing a model of consumer responses to explicit sexual stimuli conveyed through different expressive styles (artistic versus provocative). A between-subjects experimental design (N=369) was conducted. The theoretical model includes ad-, brand- and behaviour-related variables. Structural equation modelling was used to estimate the hypothesized relationships.

Findings reveal that the use of an artistic format stimulates a better response than the use of images in merely provocative poses. From a female consumer perspective, all paths were positive and significant when exposed to the artistic nudity stimuli, with the only exception of the positive emotions-purchase intention relationship. Results suggest a moderating role of the mode of representing sexual images on attitude-intention relationships. From a male consumer perspective, the response was similar, but any effect was present between attitude towards the advertisement and purchase intention. Support was found for a moderating influence of expressive styles on positive emotion-attitude towards the brand relationship.

The paper sheds new lights on the way explicit sexual stimuli can be represented, offering a contribution to improving the communication effectiveness of products and brands that exploit sexual stimuli.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.