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Non-Sexy Brands are Getting Sexy

“Sex sells”

That is one of the most worn-out phrases in advertising. Many brands that sell products like alcohol, undergarments, fragrances, and cars have become synonymous with sexy ad campaigns.


But what about that brands and companies who sell products and services that aren’t even remotely sexy? Well, they don’t care. They’re making their unsexy brands sexy, resulting in amusing and entertaining ads.

Let’s look at a few that were successful in tastefully and unexpectedly using sexy ads.

Hot Pockets

Hot pockets have typically relied on a family-like approach when it comes to their ad campaigns. A snack that kids love and is easy for mom to prepare during her oh so busy day. Nestle has decided to revamp the microwaveable turnover’s image with a campaign featuring uber sexy model Kate Upton and rap legend Snoop Dog.

Nestle manages to keep the ads tasteful and funny by not trying too hard or including overly provocative connotations.  They also engage the audience in a campaign to vote #TeamMeat or #TeamCrust for their favorite part of the pastry.


PETA has always been known for their controversial ads, but usually their images of abused animals are anything but sexy. They are at the forefront of shock tactics which causes many people to associate them with gruesome images, even though their mission is to help end abuse.

PETA took a different approach with their now-popular campaign “I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur.” It features celebrities in the nude (with their private bits creatively covered) that are eye catching in a less upsetting way than their normal tactics.


This campaign has evoked a more positive, less upsetting, response from their audience, all the while making a case for their cause and showing support from dozens of celebrities.


Sexy is not a word that comes to mind when you think of gum. The gross sound people make when they chew it, the deformed awful shape it takes, covered in saliva. Can you tell I despise gum?

Anyway, even if you like it, you probably don’t think it’s sexy. But McCann Erickson has created a new campaign that relates gum to condoms, positioning them to be an essential when it comes to getting intimate. Dentyne succeeded at this racy campaign because they presented it like a PSA, and heavily encouraged their audience to participate and be advocates for “Safe Breath.”

The fact that having safe breath is so much more insignificant than practicing safe sex brings a level of humor to the campaign.


Sparkling water is a pretty basic product. Beyond playing the refreshing angle, there’s not much for Perrier to utilize. They’re also not a very relevant brand among younger audiences, and even have a hint of snobbery.

However, their new “Melting” campaign turns up the heat with scantily clad, attractive men and women that are extremely sweaty and desperate for a refreshing bottle of Perrier.


The campaign extends to YouTube with videos that are unlocked after a certain amount of views. The campaign is meant to extend the brand’s reach to a younger, social audience in a sexy but not overly provocative way.


Salad dressing can’t be sexy. It’s salad dressing. Right?

Wrong, says Kraft. They threw a spicy man in a kitchen assembling a salad and reinvented their brand.

By bringing a little sex appeal to their commercials, Kraft has gotten people’s attention during commercial breaks that would normally have gone unnoticed. They did this in a tasteful way, however. Not like the Paris Hilton and Carl’s Junior commercial that you would have to remove children from the room for. The Zesty Guy is attractive but classy, and is purposely overtly sexy to be humorous.

These brands that aren’t intrinsically sexy succeed at being sexy because they present their content humorously or tastefully. These brands have also succeeded because they’re unexpected and outside of the norm for the other brands in their market. Brands that are already viewed as sexy would likely see success if they stepped out of the box and took a chance.

About the author

Morgan Simpson