This blog is going to examine a few examples of the way advertising uses gender stereotypes. Each ad has been chosen for its content of either reflecting a gender stereotype, countering a gender stereotype, failing to reflect a gender stereotype, or a combination of the above.
Interesting. Not for women? I have to wonder who came up with this slogan. This advertisement is for a soft drink, Dr Pepper Ten. It isn’t quite a diet drink, and it isn’t full calories regular soda. Rather this is somewhere in between. By reading the words, this seems not just playing off of the female stereotype of wanting to watch calories and drink diet pop, but also plays off the male stereotype of not being concerned with watching calories or drinking diet drinks. Clearly the intent of the ad is to cater to the male soda drinker who wants the taste of regular soda while still watching calories.
As a woman, I find myself not just a little offended by this ad. I understand the need to advertise to a target audience, but should this be at the expense of offending 50% of the population? I also notice, in addition to the words and pictures, that this is very simple in design which would be more attractive to a male shopper than a female, who would be more attracted to color and design. It’s too bad this can’t be marketed to everyone, but clearly the advertisers feel that they need to gain more of the male consumer’s beverage dollars.
This advertisement, for a hearing aid company is very interesting in terms of gender stereotyping. This ad is portraying the typical male stereotype of not being a good listener. Showing a handsome, young man is attracting the attention of both men and women. But, the words have been chosen carefully for women as I’m sure many women reading this would laugh and think, “I know exactly what they mean!”
Another thing I noticed, is that this is also playing on the female stereotype of a caregiver to want to look into the health of their male loved one. The male stereotype of being less concerned with their health, and more stubborn about seeking medical attention is also at play here. So, by choosing the picture of a man, but having words aimed to a woman, they effectively advertise to both genders.
Here we have an ad for a cleaning item Swiffer WetJet. This ad portrays several typical female stereotypes. Front and center we have the young mother holding the WetJet. She is holding it up to show how excited she is to have this item and to have cleaned her home with it. She’s very happy that her house is cleaned up, since the words say it was just a mess from her child. The common female stereotype of a mother and housekeeper is forefront here.
Showing the child that just made a mess through the house as a boy, we also have a common male stereotype here also. We are made to understand that this boy made a giant mess, and that mom is expected to jump in and clean up after him. Interestingly enough, the mom looks super excited to have cleaned up after her son and from the mess on the table, her wait to do more cleaning shouldn’t be long.
I love pretty bras. What woman doesn’t? For that matter, what man doesn’t? Or is that exactly the message that Wonderbra is trying to convey in this advertisement? The common female stereotypes at play here are interested in shopping, in beauty, and in using particular assets to advertise their beauty. Another stereotype here is that women should be able to cook. But, as in this woman’s case, since her Wonderbra is providing her with more cleavage, this renders her lack of ability in the kitchen to not be so much of a big deal.
By showing a busty, half-naked women who apparently has never learned to cook, we’re seeing a male stereotype here as well. This would be of the male tendency to look at beauty before brains. Men see a pretty girl, and her enhanced bust line due to her bra, and the question of her ability to put a hot meal on the table is right out the window. Who cares if she can cook when you can look at her all day, right men?
For my final entry, I have chosen a vintage advertisement that portrays common gender stereotypes that were pervasive parts of culture in the past, and somewhat into the present. Ignoring the apparent domestic violence (a topic for another day), we have many female and male stereotypes at play. We see a woman who’s obviously concerned that the coffee she is preparing for her husband is of the best quality for fear of letting him down if it’s anything other than perfect. She is here as the chef/cook and caretaker of the kitchen and everything in it. She also shows submissiveness at her husbands needs.
The man here is disappointed in his coffee, she must have served him yesterdays store brand coffee? The male stereotype of being the dominant partner here is obvious. He expects his needs to be met by the woman, and if things don’t go his way, then he has to exert his dominance by displaying anger. Could he just make coffee himself and therefore not have anyone to blame but himself if it’s not to his standards? In this ad, apparently not.
I realize that the preceding 5 ads are fairly extreme examples of portrayals of gender stereotypes and not everything needs to be black and white as far as feminine or masculine stereotypes are concerned. But, we can see how advertisers through the years have chosen particular images and words to attract consumers and how showing these stereotypes, they can bring in business ( or some cases, run it away).