Analysis of Women in Advertising
(All advertisements referenced in this document can be found in The Practice of Writing, Fifth Edition published by Bedford/St Martin's)
Since the advent of advertising in printed media women have been featured and targeted by various companies as a key demographic. The goal has always been the same, though the methods of reaching women have changed drastically in the last century. The image of women in advertising has evolved from primarily a homemaker into the role of the liberated woman making her own way in the world.
In a 1913 ad for Shredded Wheat we see women being marketed toward in a unique way. We see a somewhat prudish woman in a petticoat with the same hairdo we would expect our grandmothers to have holding up a biscuit of Shredded Wheat. The ad tells us that women have the right to vote for the first time in the nation's history, and that theme is used to sell the Shredded Wheat. We are told that a vote for Shredded Wheat is a vote for healthy living and a clean household. The ad clearly views women as nothing more than homemakers, but is using the call to vote in the next Presidential Election as a way to sell its product.
By 1922 the image of women has grown in the popular media and ads seem to now focus more on the single woman . In an ad for Resinol Soap we see a woman wistfully gazing at a fire and dreaming of her own wedding day. The belief seems to be that a woman needs a man in her life to feel good about herself and the ad lets the women know that they will need clear skin to achieve this goal. While the image of women in general has evolved slightly in the 9 years between the first and second ads, we are still shown an image overall that a woman must find a man to be happy.
Our next piece is a Lux Soap ad from 1934. Again, the view of the modern woman has evolved, but not by as drastic of a margin as between the first and second ads. We're shown a career woman who works for a national...
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