They say there are three surefire components to making a hit concept. They are:
Actually, I should qualify that a little.
Sex can be replaced by nudity, or bare legs (or, in Japanese animation, little brief shots of little white briefs). Death need not actually occur - the threat of it is enough. And you do not always need all three to make a hit. Baywatch was sex and death with very little humour; Benny Hill was sex and humour with very little death; and Die Hard (or any other action movie) is death and humour with usually just one sex scene.
But if you can squeeze all three in to your concept, you will probably find yourself laughing all the way to the bank. James Bond is one obvious example - though his narrative structure helps.
And here's another one...
The Heart Attack Grill is a brilliant example of using experience design to make a thoroughly commoditised product - burgers and fries - into a hit. The fatty food is advertised as dangerous but "worth dying for", with burgers getting names like "The Triple Bypass" and cigarettes being sold as the ultimate desert. The staff are dressed as naughty nurses and dorky doctors. Any of course the neighbours are furious.
Sex, death and humour, folks - in a burger joint. The place is a runaway success - and they are getting eighty e-mails per hour asking for the franchise.
Look, gasp, and learn. Just keep your hands where we can see them.
(Another great example of a service using the Big Three here.)
Naughty nurse image by RocketCityPoet at flickr.