Current American advertising is soaked with sex appeal. Every day we see sexy images everywhere. But advertising wasn’t always that way and the origin of sex appeal in advertising is actually pretty interesting. It turns out that copywriting was one of the few industries where women could get ahead in the pre-70’s era. And what is widely reported as the first use of sex appeal in advertising was thought up by a woman.
Helen Lansdowne was an experienced copywriter when Stanley Resor of the J. Walter Thompson agency hired her in 1907. She took over the Woodbury Facial Soap account in 1910 and conceived the campaign “A Skin You Love to Touch,” featuring illustrations of men chastely touching women that are widely considered to be the first use of sex appeal in advertising. Eight years after the campaign was launched, sales had increased 1000 percent.