- The Washington Times - Friday, December 19, 2008

Taking a page from Victoria Secret’s selling manual, among others, Maserati launches a provocative teaser campaign aimed at women buyers.

In partnership with GQ magazine, the Italian luxury carmaker boasts that the throaty roar of its engine arouses primal urges in women.

The inspiration for this campaign is a recent research study by a British psychologist that the “vroom vroom” of a luxury car’s engine inspires a passionate response in women who took part in a recent experiment. The researcher also found that women were not aroused by the engine sound generated by a conventional car.

The study, commissioned by Hiscox UK, an insurer of luxury cars, studied the reactions of 40 people (half of them women) to the powerful roaring exhaust sound of Maserati, Lamborghini and Ferrari engines, as well as that of a Volkswagen Polo. Maserati emerged as the biggest turn-on for women, as measured by the increased amount of the sexual hormone testosterone secreted in the saliva of the test subjects.

Surprisingly, women were more turned on by the revving engine roar than were men, even if they stated that they had no previous interest in cars.

David Moxon, the psychologist who conducted the study, played recordings of the supercar engines, as well as that of the Polo, which served as a control. After exposing the subjects to 30 seconds of each vehicle’s sound, researchers analyzed saliva secretions of all 40 participants. They concluded that 100 percent of the women showed a significant increase in testosterone secretion after listening to the Maserati’s exhaust note.

A testosterone measurement was taken from each participant before the research began and then compared with a sample taken after the research was completed. In addition, each subject in the study (who ranged in age from 22 to 61 years old), was asked to complete a psychological questionnaire.

The questionnaire was then analyzed along with the saliva samples to arrive at the study’s conclusions. The Polo’s engine noise had the opposite effect with all of the women registering a decrease in testosterone after listening to its sound. Also, only 50 percent of male subjects showed a testosterone level increase after listening to the Maserati engine noise and 60 percent of the men showed an increase in testosterone after listening to the Lamborghini.

“We saw significant peaks in the amount of testosterone in the body, particularly in women,” Mr. Moxon said. “Testosterone is indicative of positive arousal in the human body, so we can confidently conclude from the results that the roar of a luxury car engine actually does cause a primeval physiological response.”

A loud noise can frequently have an arousing effect on a person’s physiology the researcher said. But the effect can be pleasant or unpleasant. The study results indicate luxury engine roaring falls into the former category, especially for women. The study proves that “luxury cars do quite literally turn heads,” said Steve Langan, managing director of Hiscox UK.

“We knew owners of luxury cars felt a connection with the sound of their vehicles,” he said. “Many of our customers turn the music down when they start their ignition [to hear the engine’s roar]. We have now scientifically proven the physical attraction people feel when it comes to cars.”

But learning that powerful engines are comes as a big surprise. Maserati invites interested persons to listen in on the study’s sound by going to http://www.gqconnects.com/ and clicking on the video recording. You can even download the engine sound to use as a ring tone on your cell phone by texting Maserati at 707070. Sex appeal has long been a basic message in advertising for many products. It’s hard to fathom why this comes as such a surprise to companies that sell cars.

COPYRIGHT, MOTOR MATTERS, 2008