, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 87-100

Advertising Ethics: The Use of Sexual Appeal in Chinese Advertising

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Abstract

With increasing social awareness of unethical advertisements in today's advertising, this study explores consumers' ethical judgements about the use of sexual appeals in advertising in a Chinese context by replicating LaTour and Henthorne's study. It specifically focuses upon responses on the Reidenbach-Robin multidimensional ethical scale, attitude toward the ad, attitude toward the brand and purchase intentions. The results show that sexual appeal was evaluated as the most frequent use in Hong Kong print advertising and they were also perceived as the most attractive instrument. Similar to LeTour and Henthorne's findings, regardless of respondent's gender, the use of a strong overt sexual appeal was not well received by Chinese consumers and resulted in less favorable attitude toward the ad itself and the purchase intention than using mild sexual themes. However, the degree of sexual content used in advertising has no direct influence on brand attitudes. Due to the conservative nature of Chinese culture, the advertisers should be careful in the use of sexual appeal for Chinese consumers.