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THERE IS LITTLE DOUBT that sex fascinates us all, but to the business man, the advertiser, it has an added dimension of interest -- it sells.

That sex sells is shown by one of the fastest growing brands in the world, Herbal Essences Moisturizing Body Wash, whose sales climbed from zero to $700 million in 7 years. In a June 24, 2002, article in the New York Times, James R. Stengel, Global Marketing Officer at Procter & Gamble, said that the target audience for Herbal Essences, the young single consumer, responds to the advertising, and that it's important that P&G stays true to what created this brand.

Further evidence comes from G&R, who, in more than 50 years of testing advertising effectiveness, has found the use of the erotic to be a significantly above-average technique in communicating with the marketplace, although one of the more dangerous for the advertiser. Weighted down with taboos and volatile attitudes, sex is a Code Red advertising technique . . . handle with care . . . seller beware; all of which makes it even more intriguing.

How advertisers have harnessed this potentially explosive device, is the subject of this review, where most of the examples have come from the more than 100,000 ads G&R has tested. We think you will find it stimulating, at the least; an evolution that, in the words of Virginia Slims, clearly says, “You've come a long way, baby.”

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