Monday, August 12, 2019

A man’s territory?─Analysing Automobile Advertisements



Gender in advertising has received extensive scholarly attention. It is among the most researched topics in advertising ethics. Past researchers have investigated various concerns related to gender roles in advertisements. Of particular concern to the present study is the existence of gender stereotype indicating a traditional male dominance in advertisements. 

The general case of generic representation: breeding ground for biases─

Women are generally depicted as homemakers, caretakers of the family and children, cleaner of the house, endorser of beauty products or sex objects. 

Women’s roles are often decorative, recreational, emotional, inconsequential, subservient to men and defined by men. Women are also frequently portrayed as less knowledgeable than men. 

On the other hand, men are mostly depicted as dominant, authoritarian, professional, decision makers and independent. Gender asymmetry is further apparent in the higher frequency of appearance of men and predominant male ad orientation. More often than not, the voice-overs, primary product users, and main characters are also male. 

Automobile advertising and men─

Overrepresentation of men in advertisements is a universal phenomenon. Automobile advertisements have always been oriented toward men. From being extremely informative in the 1950s and 1960s, automobile advertisements took the shape of entertaining short movies in the 1980s. The advertisements of the 1990s promoted technology and contemporary advertisements focus on style. But in spite of these changes, an underlying commonality has been the extreme focus on men. Automobiles have always been a man’s territory. 

Recent years have seen a reduction in restrictions based on traditional gender roles. More and more women are demonstrating behaviors and foraying into professions that are traditionally considered masculine. However, still, a disproportionally small number of women drive an automobile in India. This observation lends relevance to the examination of gender roles in contemporary automobile advertising.

What did a recent research on automobile advertising show?

  • All the four measures used to examine stereotypic expectancies in automobile advertisements (i.e., ad orientation, gender of voice-over, gender of dominant product user, and gender of main character) exhibit preference for the male gender.
  • The incidence of male ad orientation, male voice-overs, dominant male users and male main characters was higher in the sample of automobile advertisements than the sample of non-automobile advertisements.


─Taken from Fueling Gender Stereotypes: A Content Analysis of Automobile Advertisements in Business Perspectives and Research 

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