The dumb science behind nightclub ads, Part 1

We surveyed 100 scientists about what they hypothesize is the formula for a nightclub ad and nine out of 10 agreed:

Boobs | Butt + No Faces = Hot Nightclub Ad

So, I didn’t survey any scientists. I just picked up a local weekly rag and flipped to the back pages. My cursory analysis concluded the above. And that’s really about it. The question to ask, though, is why, besides sexism and misogyny, do graphic designers and copywriters come up with these ads based on this formula?

To answer that, we must look at the economics of nightclubs or even general economics.

If you are or appear to be a woman, your entry into clubs is free and often there are drink specials which lower the cost of a night out. That means nightclubs are not making much money off of you. If you are or appear to be a man, you will be charged anywhere from $20-50 to get into the club and receive no drink specials. That means nightclubs are making bank off of you.

This is called a two-sided market: a business or venue charges more for one market than the other. You see this at hair and nail salons, health insurance and dry cleaners. It’s based on a common adage that women enjoy a club more when there are fewer men whereas men enjoy a club more when there’s an even gender mix. Women’s entry is free because it takes more to get them in the door and men gladly pay the $50 entry fee because they know women will be there.

Whether this is accurate or not is irrelevant to this post. The fact is that’s how club owners operate. And the fact that men bear the brunt of the expenses, we get ads like this:



Or, more commonly, this:

Where's my face?

Where’s my face?

But is there a way to advertise clubs without infantilizing or anonymizing women? Next time, we’ll look at gay and lesbian club ads.


, , , ,


  1. The dumb science of nightclub ads, Part 2 | AK Media - April 14, 2016

    […] we wrote, I chastised the nightclub scene for their formulaic, boring advertisements. This round, we’re taking a page from the gays because their nightclubs apparently pay […]

Leave a Reply