Sex pitch may backfire, survey finds

RETAIL & ADVERTISING

April 07, 1994|By Ross Hetrick | Ross Hetrick,Sun Staff Writer

The old formula of using a comely young lady to sell a shiny new car may not be the sure-fire winner it used to be, according to a survey of sex and advertising done for American Demographics magazine.

The survey, which was done by Maritz Marketing Research in Fenton, Mo., found that 40 percent of the women polled said they might decide not to buy a product simply because of the sexual content of its advertising. Of the men, 29 percent said they are turned off enough by advertising sex to pass up a product.

All this is becoming more important as middle-aged women -- who aren't generally amused by gratuitous sexual content -- increasingly flex their economic muscle as consumers, according the article, in the April edition of American Demographics.

Perhaps the most famous case of sexual backlash was the "Swedish Bikini Team" TV commercial, which used scantily clad women to sell beer. But then employees of Stroh Brewery, which made the beer, charged that the commercials promoted sexual harassment at the brewery.

In the case of automobiles -- which seemed to come with a woman as optional equipment in the past -- half of the new-car purchase decisions are made by women. Maybe the car companies should find a new approach.

Dolls go rural

In the old days, human dolls would make human noises and animal dolls would make barnyard noises. But that's not the case with a new line of Cabbage Patch Kids that are now appearing on toy store shelves.

Dressed up in what appear to be little lamb, cow and rooster sleepers, the "Talkin' Farm Babies" let loose moos, baahs or cock-a-doodle doos when their tummies are pushed.

Hasbro Inc., the maker of the dolls, says the mixed-species doll will help children "develop their sense of sight, sound and touch through the wonderful world of farm animals," according to a press release.

But those dolls are not the last word in Cabbage Patch diversity. There is also a new aquatic line, dubbed "Bath Care Babies." Appropriately water resistant, this kid comes with a rubber ducky that squirts water.

In August, Hasbro will introduce two more dolls, with more

traditional motifs -- one with curly hair that can be styled, and a smaller-than-normal kid that comes with a "surprise blanket."

If none of these dolls suit your child's particular desire, just wait. Hasbro comes out with 10 to 12 new lines of Cabbage Patch Kids every year, a company spokeswoman said. One of the biggest-selling dolls in the country, 75 million Cabbage Patch Kids in 48 lines have been sold in the last 10 years.

Popeyes bans smoking

Popeye, the old salt who was seldom seen without his pipe, has called it quits for smoking in his chow line.

Popeyes Chicken and Biscuits has joined other restaurants in banning smoking at its 21 Baltimore area outlets. The ban, which went into effect April 1, follows a smoking prohibition issued in February by McDonald's for all its 1,400-company owned restaurants.

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