Advertising and Stereotyping

Advertising is one of the fields that humans are constantly involved in. With the mere fact that humans are all consumers in every way, advertising has become very critical and widely used. However, despite the importance that advertising plays in the society, it has still remained as one of the most utilized fields but constantly ignored and often left unnoticed (Cook 1).Advertisements aim to promote and endorse the products that they address; in addition, they provide the established authority to make statements that will help in strengthening the market position of the products (MacRury 23). And despite the minimal attention that people attribute to advertisements, advertisements and commercials are still able to fulfill its missions and goals. Through the specific and limited amount of time that is being reserved for commercials and advertisements between television program gaps or small sections in newspapers and magazines, advertisements are still able to influence the thoughts and preferences of consumers that are able to read or watch such commercials (Sheehan 1). As such, any statement or perpetuation of an idea that is claimed as a fact by an advertisement becomes a social norm.

The continuous airing or publishing of ideas serves as propaganda that influences people. It contributes in shaping the societies’ beliefs and views on certain matters. More importantly, it creates social stereotypes in gender roles, and race. This may be considered as harmful because it affects the treatment that other people extend to those who are subject to the advertisement.Contemporary AdvertisementLike any form of communication, there are three important aspects of advertising especially for contemporary advertising.

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First is the advertiser, or the sender, second is the receiver of the message or the audience, and third and may be considered as the most important is the message or the context of the ad. Given that its factors are almost the same as that of any form of communication, advertising plays a huge role in society; as such, it has an important economic and entertainment role (Sheehan 4-6).The entertainment role of advertisements may be exemplified for example by certain soft drinks advertisements. Coca cola or Pepsi commercials seldom contain anything that speaks about the product being endorsed. However, advertisers see to it that the commercials are very entertaining in order to catch and keep a consumer’s attention (Sheehan 6).Through such strategies mentioned, advertisers are able to instill in the audience’s mind that their products are good and necessary. Also, it is able to instill that what they are presenting are actual realities and how things are supposed to be.

Thus many people are driven to absorb that facts presented in commercial are contemporary truths, as well as standards (Sheehan 6).Contemporary Ad CampaignsOne of the many stereotypes that are disseminated through advertising is that of gender roles. Even in the earlier days of advertising, most commercials are indicative of women being the subordinate of man. Some even point that women are like sex objects, or always the common gullible and happy housewife. There are only few commercials that point to the capability of women to become independent (Ferguson et. al. 40).For instance the series of Axe commercials portrays women like animals that are driven by scent.

Most commercials start with a man spraying Axe all over his body. Then as he walks on the street women start following him, clinging to him and at one particular Axe commercial, a woman bites the guy’s buttocks (Unilever).Another Axe commercial that points to women as nothing but sex objects is the one that starred Nick Lachey.

This commercial shows Nick Lachey walking around the city and clicking on a counter in his pocket for women who are trying to steal his attention. As he arrived in a hotel and entered the elevator, the bellman also has a clicker. They compared each others’ tally and found that the bell man had a higher score. The question then, is how the bell man was able to do that. By the end of the commercial, a scene where the bell man sprays himself with Axe is shown (Unilever).From this commercial, women are yet again stereotyped, if not as physique-driven creatures, as scent driven creatures, which are tallied by men.

They are treated as game scores and as in any other game, whoever gets the higher rate is the winner. In the case of the commercial, the man who smelled better won (“Axe Commercial”).The mentioned commercials, as well as other commercials depicting the same notion, may be considered offensive to women because they mislead the audience. It shows women as somewhat pickle-minded, which of course is not true. In the portrayal depicting them as trophies or awards for using a product, they are exploited.

Also, these kinds of commercials not only set stereotypes but also reinforce the already existing ones (Sadiq).Another stereotype that advertising sets and reinforces is the stereotype on race. There are a number of commercial that indicates existing racial discrimination. It does not only exist in television commercials but also in advertisement on magazines.

In a recent study, it has been found that there are incidents of under-representation in many white women’s magazines. White female exposure was found to be mostly in low-status positions while black women are shown in animal prints of predatory animals (Neptune et. al. 627).Like already mentioned, there are also existing TV commercials which point to racial stereotyping.

An example is the commercial of Chicken Treat which starred two men; one is black and the other one is white. They were speaking about the burger value meal that is very cheap. It was very cheap that the black man became very happy about it (Chicken Treat).

From this, it may be found that black people are stereotyped as those who cannot afford very expensive food. It also points that the race to which the black people belong to are poor, as compared to that which the white people belongs in. The commercial does not show the true image of the black people; instead it sends the message that black people are always after the cheap kind of food (Dines et. al. 284).This is the same in the case of black women who are often misrepresented in white magazines.

The message that the advertisements send about these people, instill inequality of status and race, instead of equality and justice. It conveys that the whites are better, rather than point out that all people, regardless of the color of their skin is, are equal to one another (Dines et. al. 284-285).Analysis and ConclusionFrom the given information, it maybe said that advertising, as a form of media, can affect people’s views greatly. It is a very influential means of disseminating information and having it instilled within people’s minds.

It also points that advertising is a sensitive activity. It can set social norms with its enormous capacity to influence one’s way of thinking. Advertising can also reinforce the already existing social norms and stereotypes that are very much offensive to those who are the subject of it.

In the case of this paper, the two main subjects are women and the blacks. Through the seemingly insensitive commercials and print ads, women and blacks are often mistreated and poorly represented. For the women, they have been treated as subordinate to men. Even though it may be admitted that this is the stereotype that has been existing even in the early days in history, it remains very offensive for the women of the present generation. They have struggled against all hardships to receive the respect that some female achievers rightfully deserve. Advertising only worsens their situation by instilling the wrong idea in people’s minds.On the other hand, the black people are also stereotyped in some commercials.

They are treated as people who are of lower status than whites. Like the stereotyping on women, the stereotype with the blacks is one that has also been in existence from the early days until now. These kinds of stereotypes are often reinforced by advertising; that instead of preventing discrimination, such commercials contribute to make the issue more controversial.

As such, it may be said that advertising campaigns that perpetuate sex role and gender stereotypes exist in the field of advertising. It can either set a new stereotype or reinforce an already existing one. It is also a factor that makes advertising influential. Thus, advertisements can also become harmful to the society in terms of its ability to connote negative information that may worsen the current status gap.

Author: Rosa Crawford


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