There's a fake Aston Martin used car advert currently doing the rounds on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Although it's a fake (a funny one in my opinion) I was surprised to find that it's based on a real advert for BMW in 2008 which really was copied, with a twist, by another company in 2009.
Now obviously, this sort of advert pretty much ignores (and rightly so) the guidelines I usually stick to when putting an Ad together (see my 'how-to' post on Constructing a Press Adverts) but it does raise the interesting question of what the tipping point is between appropriate and inappropriate uses of sexual imagery to sell a product that isn't directly sexual in nature.
I don't think there are hard and fast rules one can use here. For what it's worth I think that in this context it works but you do need a pretty strong existing brand image to weather any backlash that "this sort of thing" might generate.
BMW and (fake) Aston Martin do, a small company however might end up being swamped the by negative impression this could generate amongst those who have no other reference points for a brand.
All of which makes the twist a used car dealership in Ontario, Canada put on the original BMW advert all the more interesting.
The 'original' 2008 BMW advert and the interesting 2009 copy are below for comparison.