Pick up any magazine. I am sure you will come across an a picture of a beautiful woman on an advertisement that has no relation whatsoever with the content of the advertisement, I have come across advertisements of a UPS showing a beautiful girl smiling away to glory. Who buys a diesel generator because of a girl? And who pays these marketing executives for coming up with such trash?
Right? Just read this.
[I]n South Africa ... a consumer lending bank wanted to push personal loans to fifty thousand of its customers. Working together with a team of economists, the bank crafted several variations on the same basic loan offer letter. The different versions were randomly assigned to recipients and mailed off without any indication that the letters were part of an experiment.
The letters included different interest rates (ranging from 3.25% to 7.75% per month); some featured a comparison to a competitor's rate; others a giveaway ([Win one of] TEN CELL PHONES UP FOR GRABS EACH MONTH!); and still others a photo of either a man's or a woman's pleasant, smiling face.
Now you'd think that the customer would evaluate the offer based purely on interest rate and the specific terms of the loan. Marketing gimmicks such as competitor comparisons, giveaway offers, and fanciful photos shouldn't be part of the calculation. [The results showed that most of these gimmicks] didn't have much of an overall effect. The unexpected effect kicked in with the less relevant variation: the inclusion of a picture of the smiling face in the corner. ... According to the study, the magnitude of [the men receiving pictures of a smiling woman] is "about as much as dropping the interest rate 4.5 percent points."
Well, well, well! How many of your purchasing decisions are made because of the smiling man or woman in the advertisement?