Abhorred by many, stereotypes continue to persist in our modern age. This is especially true for advertisements and the like, and during our short group discussion, I came to realize that stereotypes are imminently necessary for marketers to be able to target certain products for a specific group of people/gender. For example, the commercials that I came across were generally aimed at either a male or female audience, with subgroups expanding on in both genders to target boys/girls, mothers/fathers, etc.; a car advertisement from the 1970s, featuring an image of a brand-new Volkswagen beetle with a broken, dented left headlight. Below the image is a statement in bold: “Sooner or later, your wife will drive home one of the best reasons for owning a Volkswagen.” – This portrays women in a very stereotypical way - women cannot drive - highlighted by the painful to look at dents and fractures on the car. This also serves as a joke for the male audience, as we frequently like to make fun of the weaker sex on this topic, and rightfully so. The advertisement further goes on to elaborate in a fine print below the bold sentence, stating that “Women are soft and gentle, but they hit things.”, from which one can infer that women are not to be trusted, as the word choice of “soft” and “gentle” has somewhat a negative list of connotations when it comes to the topic of cars, as they are usually portrayed to be a “manly” and utterly serious field of issue for the male audience, where “gentle” deems inappropriate. Additionally, the phrase “but they hit things” (which may also be interpreted as a sexual innuendo: aimed at men) implies that women are bad at driving. However, the next sentence makes one believe that not all is lost, because “if your wife hits something in a Volkswagen, it doesn’t hurt you very much”, as “VW parts are easy to replace”.
Similarly, a Burger King ad plays on the imagination of men by featuring a great, big “BK Super Seven Incher” beef burger next to a half-opened, in surprise and indignation, orifice, with the woman staring in dumbfounded confusion. And to make it complete, a banner that states “It’ll blow your mind away” runs below this quirky composition, with the first two words taking up the most space and all in uppercase – ahem, another innuendo that’s appealing to men. Very sexist, I admit.
On the other end of the spectrum lies the feministic bedlam of insinuating ads that too, just like the adverts targeted at men, are driven by a wave of sexism and hatred towards the stronger sex, inspiring and motivating all their feministic compatriots alike... Sorry, I just had to put this here, sounds very high and complex =)
Conversely, the advertisements aimed at women are not as insinuating and derogatory and sexist as the ones from the opposite sex. For example, a LEGO ad featuring a happy young, ginger, smiling girl is very sensual and quite tranquil, limiting its warm palette of colours to a dark-ochre brown background, leading the eye to the centre of attention – the chaotic and colourful building blocks of the LEGO construction that the young girl is cheerfully holding. This, in turn, leads the eye to focus on the most important part of the composition – the bold text, placed right in the middle of the whole composition, reading: “What it is - is beautiful.” which greatly resonates with women of the girl’s age, inspiring and persuading them to ignore the defined stereotypes and build, make, be creative, and be a tomboy! Furthermore, the use of the word “beautiful” links with girls of her age, as girls have the connotations of things beautiful, sensual and charming. It’s as if it answers its own rhetorical question – “What it is” – on a separate line – “is beautiful”, implying that it can never be otherwise.
$root - whoami marketer
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