EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 772 - June 01, 2004     1 of 2

Does Sex Sell on eBay?

By Mark O'Neill

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Nothing catches a man's attention quicker than a pair of women's breasts on a computer screen. Now some eBay sellers are betting that the way to open a man's wallet is by adding a little "jiggle" to their auctions.

Whether it's Naval Academy yearbooks, a pair of mugs (not jugs) and even old coins, items are springing up on eBay.com accompanied in the photos by bikini-clad models. ("Oh, my girlfriend just happened to be walking by when I pressed the camera button and funny thing, she was dressed only in her underwear!")

The strategy of using female bodies to sell things has got some eBay traders' imaginations going into overdrive. One coin dealer (who, by the way had nearly 700 feedbacks and better than 99% positive feedback) shot pictures of his models from the waist up - wearing only two strategically-placed 1878 Morgan Silver dollars.

Is eBay really the place for this kind of sales strategy? Children browse eBay - and these auctions are not in the private "adult" section of eBay. Do parents really want their kids searching for Pokemon, only to see a bikini model's assets so large that they would poke-your-eye-out?

Knowing eBayís all-too eager willingness to cancel any auction that violates their policies, how are these auctions slipping through the net? Personally, it smacks a bit of desperation, as though the seller is attempting to distract the eye from the item. ("I canít sell my item, a combined coathanger and cigarette lighter. It's so awful even the Shopping Channel won't sell it. If you buy it, I'll throw in a bonus bikini model!")

It seems the idea of using female bodies to sell things has generated strong opinions on both sides of the Atlantic. One seller in Florida gave an interesting slant to the argument.

Karen (eBay ID :sunnyfl4u) remarked, "As a woman I'm not offended by men using bikini models as a marketing tool. What I do find inappropriate is when bikini models are used in the auctions but their head is chopped out of the photo! I don't want to see just a mannequin of a body flashed before me."

A German opinion was expressed by Monika (eBay ID : monika227), who said, "It doesn't really bother me that much but I don't see how having a bikini model in the picture helps something to sell better."

Just don't complain when your combined coathanger and cigarette lighter arrives broken. After all, you really weren't looking that closely at the product.

*Items like these, which conform to eBay's policy (http://pages.ebay.com/help/policies/mature-audiences.html), are on the rise on eBay.*

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=63868&item=4153374190

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=36074&item=2241613684


About the author:

Mark O'Neill is Managing Editor of the popular tech blog, MakeUseOf.com. He is a Scotsman, now living the ex-pat life in Wurzburg, Germany. You can also find him on MarkO'Neill.org.


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