Does sex sell cause-related marketing?

Do you remember this ad?

Elisabetta Canalis PETA

It’s part of PETA’s anti-fur campaign. Though the use of nude celebrities may arouse cynicism, the use of provocative imagery and ardent copy make for a bold message.

Ad copy: “Animals killed for their fur are electrocuted, drowned, beaten and often skinned alive. Be comfortable in your own skin, and let animals keep theirs.”

Tagline: “I’d rather go naked than wear fur.”

Image: Elisabetta Canalis in the nude

Makes sense, right? If not, let me qualify my point. In order for a message to be persuasive, the message must be attended too, comprehended and retained. And while you are not likely to strip naked, in order to take a stand against fur products; you might recall this message when you come across fur products.

Now take a look at this. (Due to copyright, we can only provide a link to the images.)

Looks like another PETA ad. In fact, it’s part of an “ongoing photographic project that invites well-known personalities across the globe to make a bold stand to stop overfishing.” Like the PETA ad above, the use of provocative imagery and daring theme (i.e. “a bold stand” in the nude) make for a compelling message.

Yet, despite the composition of each cause-related campaign (as opposed to commercial campaigns which frequently use provocative images, e.g. American Apparel), naysayers are quick to gripe that ‘sex sells’.

With that being said, how do you feel about the use of provocative images in cause-related campaigns? Is it responsible marketing?