Even people who don't give a single thought to double-entendres flinch these days when a sultry woman flips onto their TV screens to ask coyly: "Had any lately?" What she wants to know is whether the viewer has had any Chateau Martin champagne, vermouth or wine. Chateau Martin's eight-week-old question is also being asked on radio, bus and subway posters, in magazine ads and on lapel buttons. Crestwood Advertising, Inc., which designed the campaign, credits it with a 48% increase in Chateau Martin sales.
The pitch is patterned on the "Does she ... or doesn't she?" ads for Miss Clairol, still running strong after ten years. To an ever-increasing degree, the leer leads in U.S. advertising.
Some campaigns approach sex with humor. Stella D'Oro is selling breadsticks with a 60-second study of a girl hip-swiveling her way down a Rome street and another of a girl who ignores a crush of handsome men in favor of a runt carrying a sackful of Stella D'Oros.
Noxzema shows a man shaving while bump-and-grind music accompanies the disappearance of the beard and a girl's voice pants: "Take it off. Take it all off." Gordon Bushell, creative director at Esty, Maura Dausey, intended Noxzema viewers to "get the pleasant feeling of being in on a joke. We hope the audience will laugh along with usand buy a can of Noxzema."
Was It Him? Most ads, however, particularly those for lingerie and toiletries, go about the sexy sell in earnest. Revlon's Intimate perfume pictures a pretty girl and asks: "What makes a shy girl get Intimate?" Wonders another wistful-looking filly: "Was it him . . . or his Piping Rock?"
"Undress a chic woman," says Perma Lift bras, undressing one partially for most of a page, "and what do you see?" Chrysler equates its cars with amorous success. And Howard clothes boasts that it makes clothes "for men who make love" and "men who make babies."
Howard's baby maker appeared once, and was then withdrawn at the request of the Improvement of Advertising Content Committee, run jointly by the Association of National Advertisers and the American Association of Advertising Agencies. So strongly have agencies turned to sex that the 20-man committee, which acts as an industry censor, is almost overworked: normally it reviews about 55 ads a year after receiving complaints, but this year it has already had 30 under scrutiny.
The White Knight. Admen are divided about the tie between sex and sales. One who uses sexy ads is Norman B. Norman, president of Norman, Craig & Kummel. Norman, according to a probably apocryphal industry story, put some sex into soap advertising with the Ajax White Knight (symbolizing strength and power) after a psychiatrist told him that 90% of housewives would like to supplement their sex lives. "Sex has always been a part of advertising," says Norman, "but it has usually stayed on the fringe. Now we are encouraging our copywriters to talk more openly and liberally about sex."