Sex Doesn’t Sell

Posted: May 17, 2012 in Marketing, Thoughts
Sex doesn't sell

They can’t do what we do, and they hate us for it. – Don Draper

So I am very late to this but I recently started watching Mad Men on Netflix. I figured that I am required to have at least one Don Draper inspired post on my blog since I am in marketing. This should fill that requirement.

So far one of my favorite “Draper-ism” relates to a conversation with Peggy in the second season:

Peggy Olson: Sex sells.

Don Draper: Says who? Just so you know, the people who talk that way think that monkeys can do this. They take all this monkey crap and just stick it in a briefcase completely unaware that their success depends on something more than their shoeshine. YOU are the product. You FEELING something. That’s what sells. Not them. Not sex. They can’t do what we do, and they hate us for it. – via

I have written about using sex to sell in the past but with this great quote, I wanted to add to it.

Sex Doesn’t Sell

Using sex to sell your product sells your audience short. It is the marketing equivalent of selling to the lowest common denominator. People typically see through this tactic pretty quickly and should not be the basis of your corporate image. Did it work for GoDaddy? In a way. What really works for GoDaddy is their low rates, the “sexy” ads just get people to the door.

So what works? In my post from earlier I stated it is a “WOW” factor that sells. Don calls it a feeling. When you make your audience feel something, you begin to sell. Old Spice did it with their humorous “Man Your Man Could Smell Like” ads, and has done it with their Youtube video. They hooked you with humor. Other ads tug at the heart-strings and really make you feel some powerful emotions.

So when Don says sex doesn’t sell, we should listen. Start figuring out what your target demographic feels. Why was Bank Transfer Day so successful? The people felt anger towards the big banks for the debit card fees. Without those fees there would have never been a “mass exodus” of bank customers. Why does BofA still have customers? The ones that stuck behind did not FEEL what the others felt.

Sex doesn’t sell. It may get looks but in the end you need something more. Don’t let the monkeys handle your marketing. Make your audience feel something strong. Show them how they can integrate you into their lives without any effort.

What companies make you “feel” something strong enough to get you to buy their products? What is your favorite “Draper-ism?”


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