Classical conditioning is defined as a learning process through temporal association that involves two stimuli that repeatedly take place at the same time such that they become fused in an individual’s mind and elicit the same response (Coon, Mitterer, Talbot, & Vanchella, 2010). Classical conditioning has been found a valid way of promoting products in marketing. Advertisers employ classical conditioning by pairing their commodities with various positive stimuli like pleasant music, sex, attractive colors, and humor. The positive stimuli can effectively work independently or can be used in various combinations. Sex has been found a very powerful feature in advertizing products by displaying the image of a beautiful lady with the product that is being advertised.
According to Davis & Palladino (2009), when an image of a beautiful lady is displayed on a particular product’s advertisement, it attracts the attention of clients as they associate the product with the beautiful lady. Advertisers use the knowledge of classical conditioning to increase the chances of their products being liked by a large number of clients in the market. They pair those things that most people like naturally, with the new products to enhance the connection between the two. Classical conditioning involves pairing the product as a neutral stimulus with an image of a beautiful lady as an unconditioned stimulus, which will enhance an association between the product and a beautiful lady, and therefore, clients will prefer the product. The preference for the advertised product in this case is a conditioned response. According to Harris 2009:
There may be some natural and obvious connection between the model and the product, such as a perfume ad that suggests a woman will attract sexy men if she wears that fragrance, or there may be no intrinsic connection at all, such as the beautiful woman who merely appears next to the steel-belted radial tires repeatedly.
Sex appeal in advertising serves a number of important roles, including: attraction of clients’ attention; sex is naturally arousing and therefore, it induces clients emotionally and remains memorable in their minds; and finally, sex elicits emotional responses like feelings of excitement, which in turn creates desire and stimulation for the product. This role can affect a client’s or consumer’s mood as well as result in suitable cognitive processing of the advertisement and therefore, increasing the persuasion effect (Davis & Palladino, 2009).
Sex in advertising is very effective in evoking fantasy or expression of the imaginative satisfaction of motives like, sexual gratification. When sex is not used appropriately, such as using it only as an attention tool, and debasing the female role, weak brand recollection may occur and therefore, clients or consumers will develop a negative attitude regarding the brand. Appropriate use of sex appeal in advertising produces satisfactory and acceptable results (Coon, Mitterer, Talbot, & Vanchella, 2010).