Sex and Advertising: Retail therapy-Ernest Dichter | A Cultural History of Advertising | Scoop.it


"THESE are thrilling days for behavioural research. Every week seems to yield a new discovery about how bad people are at making decisions..."

"Between the late 1930s and 1960s Dichter became famous for transforming the fates of businesses such as Procter & Gamble, Exxon, Chrysler, General Mills and DuPont. His insight changed the way hundreds of products were sold, from cars to cake mix. He pioneered research techniques such as the focus group, understood the power of word-of-mouth persuasion and earned startling fees for his theories. By the late 1950s his global business reached an annual turnover of $1m ($8m today), and he enjoyed a reputation as the Freud of the supermarket age...."

"To elevate typewriter sales, he suggested the machines be modelled on the female body, “making the keyboard more receptive, more concave”People smoke, he explained, because it is both a sign of virility and a legitimate excuse to interrupt the day for a moment of pleasure, “comparable to sucking at the nipples of a gigantic world breast”. A phallic shape to lipstick increased sales by the way it offered a subconscious invitation to fellatio (“but one has to be careful not to go overboard and make the parallels too obvious,” Dichter cautioned).".