Does Sex Sell in the Climbing World?
In the climbing world does sex sell?
I neither care to get into the right or wrongs of using sex to sell a given product nor desire to force my morals (or lack thereof) upon anyone. I strictly want to look at sex in the climbing industry from a marketing point of view.
What does it say about a company when they use sex to sell? I had a professor in a packaging design class that argued that sex used in advertising was a perfect example of the least common denominator concept. And that such a company that used provocative images didn’t know enough about their customer basis to effectively target them and therefore since half of the world is male put some sort of sexually gratuitous image in the advertisement and you can reach half of your target demographic.
Is it smart to risk isolating half of the climbing market? Online outdoor retailers have indicated that their customers are pretty evenly split between males and females. It makes me wonder, what are these companies that use sex-to-sell target demographic? In many cases, their advertising and sexual images have no relationship to the product that they are selling. Some argue that sexual images increase interest in the product, but I would disagree stating simply that it only shows interest in the titillating image itself and does nothing to increase sales, educate the buyer on the product, or show an understanding of their customer base.
On the other hand, maybe they understand something that I don’t. Calendars and books such as Women of Climbing and Stone Nudes exist, therefore some sort of market/demographic for this must be present. If there wasn’t, market forces should eliminate them. (Adam’s invisible hand) Is it possible that marketers of various companies that use sex-to-sell may not be that far off? Dead Point Magazine in issue #7 of their magazine ran an overtly sexual, self-promoting advertisement as a test and conversation starter. This ad became, at that time, the most heavily trafficked ad in their websites history showing that there was a strong draw to their viewership.
Do the values of our community support such advertising strategy? Something to think about.