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Introduction: Advertising & Gender The adverts are carefully crafted bundles of images, frequently designed to associate the

product with feelings of pleasure stemming from fantasies and anxieties (Craig 1997). Advertising can also be defined as a paid for massmedia communication, and a means of managing and controlling the consumer markets at the least cost (Brierley 1995). It is clear that advertisers seem quite willing to manipulate these fantasies and exploit our gender identities to sell products.

Gender is a social construct, a dichotomy that exists in all societies (Costa, 1994). It is used to describe the socially constructed differences between men and women, referring not only to individual identity and personality, but also at the symbolic level, to cultural ideals and stereotypes of masculinity and femininity and, at the structural level, to the sexual division of labour in institutions and organisations (Online Dictionary of the Social Sciences).

The definition of gender encompasses a great deal. Temperament, abilities and skills, activities and behaviours, ideal types and accepted and unacceptable deviations from the ideal, sensuality and culture based essence of what it means to be male or female, are all part of the gender constructs of a given society.

Therefore, marketers perform their activities differently when their targets are male than they do when the targets are female, and consumers responses often differ on the basis of gender. Sales personnel learn that alternative methods may be required when a potential customer is male rather than 1

female, for example: the use of colour in promotion, advertising and packaging sends gendered messages, perhaps the most obvious of which is the association of bright, bold colours with toys for boys and pastels and purples with toys for girls.

Male vs Female The study of differences and similarities between women and men is compelling for both its personal and its political implications. Issues of

femininity and masculinity are emphasised strongly in our culture and can be important aspects of individual identity and self concept.

To help society address men and women as male or female, there are certain principals underpinning our understanding of these two specific words. Apart from the obvious physical appearance, certain attributes are associated with males and females that group individuals into one or the other gender.

Male Gender Traits Independent Rational Rough Nasty Brave Insensitive Aggressive Competitive

Female Gender Traits Dependent Irrational Gentle Nice Cowardly Sensitive Placid Co-operative

Physical Disobedient Active Unhappy Assertive Confident Uncaring

Emotional Obedient Passive Happy Unassertive Unconfident Caring

The above table illustrates the summary of stereotypical male and female traits. It is very clear to see that both genders are of opposite characters; for example males are seen to be brave, who are more independent and confident where as females are seen as cowards, who dependent on others (such as a male partner) and do not have the confidence that males demonstrate.

The labels female and male carry powerful associations. Advertisers use the information the labels provide to guide their behaviour toward other people and to interpret their behaviour toward themselves. Sex or gender

stereotypes are socially shared beliefs that certain qualities can be assigned to individuals based on their membership in the female or male half of the human race (Lips, 2005).

People adjust their stereotypes of women and men by taking into consideration the roles they occupy: If women tend to be in roles that demand

nurturing behaviour and men taking charge, observers will assume that women and men have the qualities required for such roles.

Psychologists have become increasingly aware that physical appearance is a critical aspect of stereotyping. In terms of gender stereotypes, physical

appearance may have strong implications for how masculine or feminine a person is thought to be. Although physical appearance is important in both males and females, beauty is generally defined as peculiarly feminine attribute and preoccupation with ones appearance is seen as part of the feminine stereotype (Ivy & Backlund, 2004).

Stereotypical masculinity, too, is reflected in physical appearance particularly in strength. As Lips (2005) has pointed out, Rostker claims that men are not immune to concerns about how their bodies will be judged perhaps because concern with ones appearance is supposed to be a feminine quality it seems less acceptable for them to talk about it. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the products advertised are aimed at target male and target female audiences, thus resulting in a higher level of specificity in gender-portrayed roles.

Gender Targeting Research conducted in the 1970s laid out the basic aspects of the advertising portrayals of both men and women. According to Craig (1997), overall, men were portrayed as more autonomous than women, with men portrayed in many different occupations as compared to women being shown as housewives and mothers. Men were far more likely to advertise alcohol, 4

vehicles, or business products while women were found mostly in advertisements for domestic products. Men were far more likely to be shown outdoors or in business settings while women were shown primarily in domestic settings.

Recent studies suggest some changes such as significant declines in portrayals of mens traditional roles such as husband, father and athlete. For example, a qualitative analysis of 40 beer adverts found a very strong relationship between drinking and stereotypical view of masculinity (Craig, 1997). In contrast, women are viewed as a mere audience for male activities. Men who are sensitive, thoughtful, gay or complex are not present in beer advertisements. While the gender stereotyping had decreased slightly, men still are more likely to be depicted in themes of sex appeal, as careeroriented, and in activities and life outside the home.

Although more and more men are becoming self-conscious, it seems their concern is not to look attractive to society or specifically to the opposite gender, but mainly to be fit, active and healthy for their own benefit. Therefore advertisers use this to their advantage and create certain needs and wants according to the behaviour and expectations of society. Advertisers abuse these needs and wants from men and women by playing on their weaknesses such as beauty and lack of self-confidence in women and manipulate messages to influence the decision making process.

Gendering enables advertisers the ease of breaking down target consumers. It helps to eliminate the undesired group(s) instantly therefore efficient in 5

terms of time as, time is money. This is also due to the differences in how members of each gender perceive themselves and how they want to be perceived by the members of their own and the opposite gender (Batchelor, 2003). These particular beliefs are played on by advertisers which increase motivational impulses and when triggered, can influence purchasing power (Batchelor, 2003).

Adverts for the same products, which focus on different genders, seem to be similar on paper (or wherever they may be seen) but in fact, there are significant differences. Adverts present messages tailored to fit the beliefs and values of the target audience to persuade its reader.

Fig.1 Davidoff Cool Water-Woman

Fig.2 Davidoff Cool Water - Man

Craig (1997) suggests that in gendered advertisements, associations are made with pleasurable experiences, noting that within patriarchal society men and women seek pleasure differently. Craig (1997) concluded that

advertisers structure the gender images in their commercials to match the

expectations and fantasies of their intended audience.

Examples of how

adverts are tailored for the desired gender is illustrated above in figure 1 and figure 2. Figure 1 is selling Davidoffs Cool Water for women and Figure 2 is selling the same fragrance for men.

Figures 1 and 2 use the same approach of photographic imagery of the sea and shore, the colours - blue and white - associate with water hence the fragrance name Cool Water and the text for the advert. Figure 1 shows an attractive, confident female model passive on the shore resting her head on a rock and gazing at the reader. Figure 2 shows a muscular male model in water, who is active (splashing water) and seems he has just jumped out of the water.

It is intriguing that the bottle in figure 1 is fragile and passive like the woman and the design appears to have curvaceous, smooth curves resembling a womans body. In figure 2 the bottle is solid, rectangle with sharp edges and resembles a mans strong and muscular body.

Although the adverts appear to be similar on the surface, the adverts have been gendered to send a clear message to the desired reader. The message from Cool Water for Women clearly states that as a woman, this product will make you look and feel fresh, cool, relaxed and confident, so confident that you do not need to wear anything else but the fragrance. This plays on the ideology that most women do not have the self confidence to show their body but using this product will restore that confidence. The Cool Water for Men

implies that not only will the product make you as a man, feel cool and fresh, but it will give you full of energy so that you ready for any action.

Women are considered to be lazy or at least not as active as men (as seen in figure 2). The message from figure 1 implicitly emphasises on the womans body but the message from figure 2 is explicitly emphasising on the activeness of a man; associated with how men and women perceive themselves.

Men and women illustrate different buying behaviours and convey different motivations to buy a certain product. Take a wrist watch for instance; women see watches as jewellery, an item of accessory to match their clothing. Men on the other hand buy it as a need, not a necessity. This behaviour has been planted into society by advertisers. It is them who continually make the audience feel that they have to have the latest products to be accepted by society and peers, they have to look good.

This aggressive targeting has mainly had an impact on women more than men as they have become extremely self conscious, and research proves that women spend more money on looking good than men. Billions of Pounds are circulated each year in the beauty industry alone.

Figure 3 and figure 4 below, are examples of how Omega watch adverts are manipulated to target male and female groups. approaches in contrast to figure 1 and 2. Omega uses different

These watches are celebrity

endorsed to sell the product. Figure 3 adopts a fictitious movie character, 8

James Bond a British under cover spy/agent in one of the worlds most successful ongoing films in history, and figure 4 is endorsed by Cindy Crawford, a world famous model.

Fig 3 Omega James Bonds Choice

Fig 4 Omega Cindy Crawfords Choice

Men dream of being James Bond or aspire to his charisma, and those who see him as a role model will copy his image. Advertisers have emphasised that Omega is James Bonds choice of wrist watch brand, and the advert states that Omega is the sign of excellence; connotating that James Bond only wears the best and so should you. It plays on mens desire of becoming a hero as we see a scene from a Bond film in the background explosion in the air. The message is very clear; men who wear the watch can relate to James Bond, become suave, sophisticated, and successful.

In contrast, figure 4 demonstrates that women are more laid back, and prefer indoor events. The indoor dcor in the background resembles a

sophisticated, upper class restaurant. The advert emphasises that this gold, slim Omega watch, is Cindy Crawfords choice. She is wearing a red dress associated with the lady in red (attractive). Her watch is worn as part of her outfit, almost as if it is gold jewellery. The message conveyed here is as if Cindy is speaking out to the reader saying, look at what Im wearing. She appears to be wealthy and attractive and is urging women that it is a must have piece of jewellery that will make you look like a million dollars.

It is clear from the above examples that men and women are targeted according to their social beliefs and attitudes towards their self perception brought on by advertisers and society, enforcing them to adopt certain buying behaviours to influence purchasing decisions. These certain methods have had negative impact on women than men as we are aware that women appear more emotional and unconfident in contrast to men. Women are

increasingly concerned with their physical appearance due to the pressure of looking good by society.

This has been taken advantage by many companies as illustrated in the ad campaigns for Budweiser, see figure 5 below. This campaign has taken a very different approach to both Cool Water and Omega products. It is

cleverly created without using the obvious male and female models to show who the product is for but rather emphasises on words relating to males and females to distinguish between the two genders.


The poster has been divided to promote two different

products; a lite beer for the ladies advertised in a small section at the top of the poster in a simple way and the hard core beer for the men in a bigger bottom. proportion at the

We know which product is for which group because of the words used for the slogans, The Queen of Carbs for the
Fig 5 Budweiser King and Queen

women and The King of Beers for the

men. The irony of a Kings crown being produced on the lid for the mens drink by some sort of a liquid drop, is very macho and very effective which sends the desired message very clearly to its male audience. Unfortunately, nothing effective can be said about the lite beer because it appears dull, it has no personality, no Queens crown.

It is clear that advertisers main focus was on the mens drink as beer is mainly associated with men explicitly playing on the machoism, roughness, disobedient and aggressiveness of a man. It is unfortunate that women are implicitly being portrayed as passive, irrational, with no personality. They are 11

coming across as no match to the Kings or men, they are obedient to the men.

Conclusion: What does it all mean? It is evident that advertising is a huge and pervasive industry. Advertising has a powerful effect that goes well beyond the purpose of selling products to customers, it affects our culture and our views therefore it is extremely persuasive.

Media researchers explain that stereotyping involves presenting a group of people in an unvarying pattern that lacks individuality and often reflects misperceptions. Courtney and Whipple (1983) produced a comprehensive list of female gender stereotypes in advertising which include the following: women in isolation women being depicted as obsessed with their physical attractiveness women in underwear and lingerie more than professional clothing

It is clear that sexist and stereotypical advert portrayals have severe negative impact and effect on women. Studies continue to reveal our cultures obsession with thinness as reflected in advertising. Women are receiving many times more messages about thinness and body shape than men in prominent magazines and on television. This behaviour of advertisers creates a widening gap between the weight of an average woman and the ideal. The pressure to be thin is not as great for men as for women, which is evidenced


by the higher number of average weight and overweight male models in adverts in comparison with females.

Just as there are female stereotypes in advertising, male gender stereotyping also appears. According to Ivy and Backlund (2004), male depictions in ads include: professional, knowledgeable Jock, who can perform in all sports handy man who can fix anything

It is evident that men seem to fit any role and can sell anything but women are more favourable for hygiene, beauty products and underwear. It is worryingly clear that women today are still not taken seriously within society.

Advertisers overwhelmingly select positive, approved typifications so their product will be associated with a good image, [therefore] what we see are idealised characters using ideal facilities to realise ideal ends (Goffman, 1976).

Adverts are aimed at reflecting life as individuals wish to live it, including looking beautiful and achieving wealth and success. This is an implicit

promise that certain desirable benefits will accrue if one uses the right scent for example. An advertiser not only can create product identification but can impel purchase if the vision hits its mark of personal desire.


Manca and Manca (1994) state that when advertisers target women they use complex, appearance related emotional appeals such as using science to prove the benefits of a certain facelift cream. This pattern characterises women as externally or other oriented and concerned primarily with men. Conversely, when advertisers target men, they use simple, ego gratification emotional appeals. These appeals stereotype men as internally or self

oriented, concerned primarily with themselves.

Gendered differences are apparent, accordingly, gendered advertising beliefs, attitudes, values and consumer behaviour exist, therefore advertisers recognise them, understand them, and use them to design gender specific advertisements. Advertising always involves a promise and is expected to fulfil its promise. Consumer advertising most commonly associates products with symbols that exemplify values, group feeling, prestige, status, power, achievement or just plain hedonistic pleasure.

This is why most organisations concerned with persuasion look for prestigious spokespersons to endorse their position and thus endow it with something for their own prestige. People seek social approval from all others, but it is more valued when it comes from those higher up the social scale since it is less likely to be self-serving and considered more perceptive.



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