This advert promoting ‘Veet for Men’ is a clear example of the ‘innudendo’ social influence tactic, hinting at the reception of sexual attention from others upon using the product. The topless man, with his Men’s health-worthy physique coupled with the tagline, “This’ll put hands on your chest” leads men to believe that the result of using the hair-removal cream 'Veet' makes them come across as more desirable.
Wegner found that the tactic of innuendo was very powerful, with people often basing their impressions on the innuendo statements. Wegner, Wenzlaff, Kerker, and Beattie (1981) showed participants of their study varied newspaper headlines that conveyed damaging information about people in four ways:
1. Direct incriminating statements (e.g., "Bob Talbert Linked with Mafia")
2. Incriminating questions (e.g., "Is Bob Talbert Linked with Mafia?")
3. Incriminating denials (e.g., "Bob Talbert Not Linked with Mafia")
4. Neutral headlines included for comparison (e.g., "Bob Talbert Arrives in City")
When assessed, subjects of the study showed that the innuendo of Bob’s dealings with the Mafia was effective- those shown the incriminating headlines were more likely to have a negative impression of him as opposed to those who were shown neutral headlines.
Sengupta and Dahl
(2008) found that men on average will
exhibit a more positive attitudinal response to gratuitous sex appeals than
women under conditions of high-cognitive loads, when a gut-level response is
required. Thus in this case, working upon the idea that sex sells, one can
conclude that innuendos are a useful marketing tool to draw attention to the
Furthermore, humour by association has been found to have a positive effect on attention (Weinberger and Gulas). Speck conducted a test comparing humorous ads to non-humorous controls on four measures: initial, sustained, projected and overall attention. He found humorous ads to be more successful on all measures. Although Weinberger found that a mere 26% of practitioners believe humour to be more persuasive, it is guaranteed to hold the consumer’s attention for longer.
- Daniel H. Wegner (1984) ,"Innuendo and Damage to Reputations", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 11, eds. Thomas C. Kinnear, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 694-696.
- Weinberger, Mark G. and Charles S. Gulas. "The Impact of Humour in Advertising: A Review." Journal of Advertising (1992): 35-58.