Title: Effect of sexual appeal in marketing communication on aggression and sexual aggression: a theoretical perspective and future research directions

Authors: Karnika Bains; Prem Prakash Dewani

Addresses: Indian Institute of Management, IIM Road, Prabandh Nagar, Mubarakpur, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh 226013, India ' Indian Institute of Management, 129, Chintan, IIM Road, Prabandh Nagar, Mubarakpur, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh 226013, India

Abstract: Advertisements frequently use sexual appeal to attract viewer attention, and this phenomenon is more prevalent in contemporary times owing to increased advertising activities. Research on the subject focuses on advertisement effectiveness and brand effects, while secondary effects remain unexplored. We explore the little-known effects of advertisement sexual appeal on society, especially adolescents, focusing on aggression and sexual aggression resulting from media portrayals. The paper reviews extant marketing and psychology literature to analyse media effects from the perspective of aggression and related theories, vis. anti-social behaviour model, media priming, and script theory. Findings suggest that repeated exposure to sexual themes in advertising desensitises audiences, and increases explicit appeals. Objectification and dehumanisation in advertisements may foster sexual attraction to demeaning portrayals, thus, inducing attitudes that support sexually aggressive behaviours. Further, we focus on the ethical implications and elaborate on future research ideas, managerial implications and recommendations for policymakers.

Keywords: advertisements; sexual appeal; adolescents; aggression; sexual aggression.

DOI: 10.1504/JIBED.2022.125701

Journal for International Business and Entrepreneurship Development, 2022 Vol.14 No.2, pp.164 - 187

Received: 31 Jan 2022
Accepted: 01 Feb 2022

Published online: 26 Sep 2022 *

Full-text access for editors Full-text access for subscribers Purchase this article Comment on this article