Sales and Sex Appeal: Actress Scarlett Johansson Is an Interesting Case Study in How to Use Allure to Improve Your Sales Results

Article excerpt

Sex sells. Or so they say. But maybe that's not quite right. Maybe this is more accurate: The mystery of sex sells. The suggestion of it. What's the difference? Mystery and suggestion do something that showing everything can't--they engage the imagination. Sex experts the world over will tell you that the most sensitive and responsive erogenous zone of a person's body is the brain. That's what advertisers aim for every time. Some celebrities try to engage our brains in the same way. Meet the master (or is it mistress?): Scarlett Johansson.

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In a town where virtually every actress takes off her clothes at some point (man, even Kathy Bates has done a nude scene), Johansson remains all allure, all suggestion--at least by choice. The recent hacked nude images from her mobile phone were a blip on an otherwise conservative radar.

The best directors in the world recognize the allure of her mystery. Christopher Nolan, who cast her in The Prestige, says she possesses an "ambiguity ... a shielded quality." Woody Allen, who has directed her in three movies so far, is far less subtle: "[She's] sexually overwhelming"--which could say more about Allen than about her.

Her reputation for enjoying an occasional fling was fueled when she joked about a possible sexual romp with Benicio Del Toro in the elevator of the Chateau Marmont hotel after the 2004 Oscars. Both of them have denied it ever since, with Johansson pointing out that the elevator there is too small to pull off that kind of stunt (for the record, I've ridden that elevator; Scarlett's right--very cramped). …