Sex Sells Brands – Even Monkeys are Swayed by it says New Research

It’s long been cliche in the ad world to say that ‘sex sells’ but, well, it does. And, while research into human behavior bears out this long-held maxim, turns out our little brothers and sisters on the evolutionary ladder are suckers for it as well.

A study published last week in the journal Plos One looked at rhesus macaque monkeys to gauge whether they reacted to sexual imagery paired with brands and developed a preference.

While macaques and others in the furry-friend side of the mammal world diverged from us some 25 million years ago, their brains operate much in the same way as ours when it comes to handling social perception in terms of value.


And sex as a value scored high for the tree dwellers.

Researchers found that the rhesus macaques chose one brand over another by associating the logos with pictures of the backside of a female monkey in the colony or the face of the dominant male.

“Like humans, monkeys value information about sex and status, inviting the hypothesis that our susceptibility to these factors in advertising arises from shared, ancestral biological mechanisms that prioritize social information,” reads the study release. “Our goal in this study was to explore whether rhesus macaques show choice behavior that is similar to humans in response to sex and social status in a pseudo-advertising campaign.”


In what can best be described as a monkey ad campaign, researchers paired the logos of different companies, including Pizza Hut,  Acura, and Adidas, with various images of the dominant male monkey, a subordinate male monkey, and a female monkey flashing her rear.

Researchers used scrambled images as the control and paired the other images with logos as shown below in our composite image based on the study release.

The final result?

The picture of the female monkey flashing her backside had the strongest influence on both the male and female monkeys while the dominant male also held sway in his fellow primate’s reaction to the paired brands.

Adidas, take note.

So there you go. While we all at times make asses of ourselves, the backside has an allure all its own after all. Sorry, was just monkeying around.

See the full research report here.

Carry on.

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