Sexually-oriented ads quite a turn-off for Asians

May 21st, 2010 - 5:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, May 21 (IANS) Sexual content in ads can be quite a turn-off for Asian audiences, specially women, says a new study.
Sukanlaya Sawang from Queensland University of Technology’s (QUT) School of Management, specialising in cross-cultural research, surveyed 78 people from three cultural backgrounds - male and female Caucasian Americans, American-born Asians, and Asian-born people visiting the US - in the US.

The findings indicated ads with sexual content would not “work” for women in Asia.

“The Asian women’s most-liked ads were the ones that depicted caring and pleasant emotions; their least-liked ads were those that had nudity and sexual content,” Sawang said, according to a QUT release.

“One particular ad, one in a famous series for milk featuring celebrities with a milk stain on their top lips, drew particular dislike from the Asian women viewers. We asked them why and they said they did not like the milk on the model’s lip or her posture. One participant said: ‘It seems semen-like, isn’t it?’.

“Another stand-out least liked ad among the Asian women was one depicting a woman in soccer clothing balancing a ball on her foot,” Sawang said.

“This may be due to the effect of female ideology in Asian cultures such as China, Japan and Thailand in which parents teach daughters about strict standards of femininity.”

Sawang, who collaborated with researchers from the University of Central Oklahoma, asked participants to sort 36 print ads for everything from toothpaste to cars into the ones they liked most and the ones they least liked.

“We’ve all heard that sex sells but does it sell to everyone?” Sawang said, adding her study found sexually explicit advertising was preferred by Americans and Asian American males more than by Asian consumers.

The ads were from American print media and were divided into three groups: no sexual content; some sexual content; and sexual content with nudity.

“The five most popular ads chosen by American males had sexual content with female models. The common elements in their most popular choices were models with low waist-to-hip ratio, wide bust and makeup,” Sawang said.

“Asian men and women, however, preferred ads with women with Asian-like features.”

Conversely, the American women were more likely to favour the use of sexual content with male models than the Asian women.

“They responded more positively to male models with V-shaped bodies, high cheekbones, strong jaws and chins and prominent noses,” Sawang added.

“Asian men reported that advertising with sexual content was not acceptable in their culture but that personally they didn’t find it unacceptable,” Sawang concluded.

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