The advert uses the technique of Association, described by Pratkanis (2007) as 'linking of an issue, idea, or cause to another positive or negative concept in order to transfer the meaning from the second to the first'. In this case, the sensations to be experienced while eating the pizza are implied to be similar to those associated with BDSM practices.
The use of this technique can be explained by the effectiveness of the use of sexual appeal in advertising, particularly to strengthen subsequent brand recall. This was explored by Richmond & Hartman (1982) by testing the recall by participants of brands associated with sexual elements.
The participants were asked to look at 8 adverts and categorise into 4 groups - Functional (product can be showed in a straightforward sexual presentation), Fantasy (with roots in psychological literature, linked to daydreaming and fantasies), Symbolism (cultural, Freudian symbols), and Inappropriate (advertising making degrading and insulting suggestions). A subsequent task involved an interview where the participants were associating the cues (from the headline, copy or illustration) with the brand name.
As demonstrated by Table 4, the adverts within the Functional and Fantasy categories exhibited the highest rate of brand recall. In turn, the Symbolism category showed varying results, depending on how adequate was the use of the symbols.
The Domino's advert links the product with both the functional element (by highlighting its characteristics that are directly in parallel with BDSM), and the fantasy element, potentially encouraging people to fantasise about the pizza the same way as they might about sex (According to Richmond & Hartman (1982), 95% of participants have admitted to having had sexual fantasies). It could therefore be suggested that by promoting its product as one having certain sexual appeal, Domino's was hoping to increase its recognition and brand recall.
Pratkanis, A. R. (Ed.). (2007). The science of social influence: Advances and future progress. Psychology Press.
Richmond, D., & Hartman, T. P. (1982). AN EXPLORATORY-STUDY OF... SEX APPEAL IN ADVERTISING. Journal of Advertising Research, 22(5), 53-61.