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 mass-media 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 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 |‘Female’ Gender Traits | |Independent |Dependent | |Rational |Irrational | |Rough |Gentle | |Nasty |Nice | |Brave |Cowardly | |Insensitive |Sensitive | |Aggressive |Placid | |Competitive |Co-operative | |Physical |Emotional | |Disobedient |Obedient | |Active |Passive | |Unhappy |Happy | |Assertive |Unassertive | |Confident |Unconfident | |Uncaring |Caring |
The above table illustrates the summary of stereotypical ‘male’ and ‘female’...
References: 1. Batchelor, N. (2003) Gender Targeting in Print Ads. The Media and Communications Studies Site Online: Retrieved October 13, 2005, from: http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Sections/textan07.html
3. Chandler, D. (No Date) Semiotics for Beginners. The Media and Communications Studies Site Online: Retrieved October 13, 2005, from: http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Sections/textan07.html
5. Courtney, A.E., & Whipple, T.W. (1983). Sex Stereotyping In Advertising. Lexington: MA Lexington Press.
6. Craig, S. (Ed). (1997). Men, Masculinity and the Media. California: Sage Publications, Inc.
7. Goffman, E. (1976). Gender Advertisements. London: MacMillan.
8. Ivy, D.K., & Backlund, P. (2004). Gender Speak: Personal Effectiveness In Gender Communication: New York: McGraw-Hill.
9. Lips, H.M. (2005). Sex and Gender: An Introduction (5th Edition). New York: McGraw-Hill.
10. Manca, L., & Manca, A. (Ed). (1994). Gender and Utopia in Advertising: A Critical Reader. Illinois: Procopian Press.
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