Ethics and Gender Roles

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In order for a particular product or service to be successful in the industry, it needs to be clearly positioned within its market. The positioning should reflect the needs of the customers as well as the position of the company in relation to competitors. Depending on the positioning, the marketing team can decide what attributes of the product to amplify in their campaigns and what steps will be required to form the proper connections to the customer. Furthermore, the position adopted by a firm also impacts brand equity, as in, the kinds of associations customers make to the product, their level of loyalty, and brand awareness.

The main ethical issue in advertising is the depiction of men and women in their stereotypical gender-roles. Men are usually depicted as powerful, successful, driven and dignified. Women on the other hand are increasing being depicted as sexualized objects often dependent on men. One of the main ethical issues is that in many of the ads the women serve mainly as a “decoration” i.e. they have no functional relationship to the product being advertised. For example, Axe is well known for its over sexualization of women in its ads to sell men’s personal care products. Another trend seems to be the use of only parts of a woman’s body in advertisements particularly a woman’s breasts and legs as stated by Jean Kilbourne in her movies “Killing Us Softly”. The implications of such practices are even greeter because of the number of ads that consumers are exposed to daily through television, newspapers, magazines and billboards. It is estimated that this number has grown from 500 ads daily in 1970 to 5000 ads a day in 2009 (Johnson, 2009). The messages imparted by ads, if they are repeated over long periods of time as in the case of gender roles in society, can distort perceptions of what is realistic as well as what is right and wrong. Since women are repeatedly cast as submissive sexual objects whose place is primarily at home or in...
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