The entire magazine only has only 210 pages. Approximately 6-8 min of every half hour television show is produced by ad agencies. Americans are bombarded with advertisements. We see them everyday in many different forms and through different mediums. Advertisers study Americas population through a systematic breakdown and analysis of our likes and dislikes in relation to our differences. These differences include gender, sexual orientation, economic status, location, race, ethnicity, and more.
Advertisers have substantial knowledge of what appeals to each of these demographics and how these demographics will respond to different stimuli (i. e. visual audio, ect. ) as well as where the advertising will be most effective. In other words, advertisers find it more beneficial to target specific audiences (Furnham; Mak, 1999). One of the central audiences that advertisers focus their attention on is women. Being such a large part of society, American women are targeted along with every other group. Ads placed where women are most likely to see them are custom tailored for women.
Studies give ad agencies an accurate idea of what it is that they need to show women in order to get them to buy their product and their brand. If these ads can improve a womans mood her increased euphoria will subliminally be linked with the stimulus (the ad). This will, in turn, have a positive effect on their attitudes toward the product and brand (Simpson; Horton, 1996). There are several strategies that are popular in both television and magazines, many of which involve images of men. Advertisers use images of men by themselves or in a variety of positions and settings to appeal to women.
By far, the most common image of men in advertising is of that of the young, white, able-bodied, and staunchly heterosexual man (Jackson, 1994). The vast amount companies spend to advertise is proof in itself; these ads sell products. It should be noted that all television commercials analyzed in this paper come from the Lifetime network between 1pm and 3pm. The slogan of this network is Lifetime: Television for Women. Basic Gender Differences Studies involving both normal and brain damaged individuals have shown associations between gender and neuralgic activity.
Women are left hemispheric dependant while men, conversely, are right-hemispheric dependent (Myers-Levy, 1994). Because each hemisphere has properties associated with it, this information is extremely relevant to the advertising industry. In what academia has denoted as the modern era, the reader (those to whom the advertisement is directed) was seen as a passive unbiased entity. The postmodern view, however, sees the reader as an active part of the communication triad (figure 1) (Stern; Holbrook, 1994). This means that the reader actively contributes to the exchange of information.
If different readers interpret the text (the ad) differently, the author (advertiser) needs to create a text that will be interpreted the correct way by a specific reader. Knowing how women think allows the advertisers to create ads that women will interpret in a positive way, therefore increasing their likelihood to buy the product. Women depend on the left hemisphere, which responds better to audio stimuli. Practically, this means women respond in a positive manner to sounds. Television and magazine medium reach more of the female population than radio. This means several things.
First, for women, information should be written or spoken whenever possible. Also, the ad industry has come up with many techniques to increase the effect of visual ads. The left hemisphere breaks visual images up into parts while the right sees images more holistically. This means that ads for women should be more detailed and provide more complete information (Prakash, 1992). Women (because of their left side dependence) view ads in a more discriminating fashion (Myers-Levy, 1994). Women read text with an experimental goal. They put themselves into the story and feel how they would respond.
Men read for information, taking themselves out of the plot. Men do not relate with the characters to the same extent that women do (Stern; Holbrook, 1994). Several parts of relationships are viewed differently by the sexes. Men view women as lower on the socioeconomic scale, while women see the two genders as at equal level on the socioeconomic scale (Melville; Cornish, 1993). Sexual aspiration is also different. The male fantasy involves conquest and the winning of a sexual adventure while the female fantasy involves much more emotion. The female sexual fantasy is of winning commitment (Stern; Holbrook, 1994).
The ad industry has been instrumental in providing funding for much research on these areas and with good cause. Advertisers have used this knowledge of the gendered brain and in the postmodern genre have created precise strategies to increase the effects of ads on target populations. Techniques Used in Woman Targeted Ads Show them Men Many of the things that advertisers spend money researching and use in their ads are deducible from common sense. One of these is using male models. Studies have shown that consumers respond favorably to opposite-sex models and often respond adversely to same-sex models (Furnham; Mak, 1999).
Studies of common sense issues are not always unwarranted. In women, mood is increased as models of the opposite sex are shown to them but decline with the suggestion of full nudity. This technique is not very difficult to spot. Ads often use a combination of techniques. Every ad that has an attractive male as a centerpiece or image in the ad is utilizing the fact that womens moods increase with pictures of men. It is important to note that the activities these men are involved in should not imply full nakedness in order to acquire optimal results.
On television this is quite common. Coca-Cola ran an ad in which at a certain time all of the women in an office rushed to the window to watch a construction worker take his shirt off and drink a Diet Coke. Although he is undressing, the situation allows us to assume that he will not reach full nudity. Another good example opens with two women sitting in a park eating lunch. They are guessing whether the passing men are wearing briefs or boxers. Michael Jordan walks buy in a tight fitting shirt and a nice suit and says Theyre Haines. Lets leave it at that.
This is one of the most popular marketing strategies and can be found in all visual media. In magazines male models are used all of the time for everything from coffee to clothes. Ad 1 was taken for Redbook and AD 2 was taken from Marie Claire. Both of these obviously use this strategy, as does ad 14 (printed in Seventeen). In each of the magazine ads there is no implication of full nudity rather sedentary positions showing the male body. Role-Reversal Portrayal of stereotypes is often a good technique. This is because in order for an ad to be effective, people need to be able to relate to it.
Conversely, people also react positively to situations that they would like to be in. The end purpose of advertising is to create desire and this can be done by showing situations that people would like to be in themselves (Barnard, 1995). When depicting relationships the strategy of role reversal has been proven as an effective marketing ploy. Many American women feel that the gender barrier is still present in the workplace, social scenes, and relationships. There is no argument that these feelings are unfounded. Truly, the ad industry does not care what people feel as long as they can exploit it.
Women prefer images that show relationships that depict more liberal male-female interaction (Prakash, 1992). The stereotype is of women sitting at home attending to their duties there as the man is out of the house in the business world making the money that supports the family (Furnham; Mak, 1999). In the relationship the man is dominant over the female. There are several ways that ads exploit the desire to oppose these stereotypes. The idea that men represent the outer working world can be useful to ad agencies. When a product is associated with a man in an ad it is subliminally associated with the outer working world.
Because women want to be a part of this world the ad is a good one (Furnham; Mak, 1999). A television ad for Carnation breakfast shows a man getting up in the morning looking sluggish and tired. He then drinks the product and immediately springs to life becoming much more animated and yelling to himself enthusiastically about how well he is going to tackle his job that day. Another ad shows a man lying on the floor in his pajamas beside a kitchen table. A chair is tipped over and a friend is fanning him. The friend eventually revives the man with a bucket of water.
Then the screen flashes to black and we are told that Kelloggs Raisin Bran now has 25% more raisins. Ads for medicines often use this technique. In one, a fireman advocates a medicine to reduce cholesterol while in another a taxi driver uses Detrol LA to control his overactive bladder. It is interesting that overactive bladder is a symptom most common to women who have reached menopause. Yet another ad, this one for the new Volkswagen, simply has a man in a white coat describing the car. Another way that womens feelings on stereotypes are exploited is in the image of the relationship.
During airtimes when women are more likely to be watching, women appear in more authoritative roles while men are depicted as spouses, parents, or support (Kaufman, 1999). Men are also often portrayed as incompetent or dependant on women (Kaufman, 1999). Such situations are used to market products to females by implying access to power through having control over men or independence from them (Firat, 1994). This technique is popular during daytime television because it appeals to women who do not work. One television ad showed a man standing in a clothing store holding a womans purse.
He stands there looking sad and bored for a time then the ad cuts to a pan of a mustered Ballpark hotdog. The voiceover states, at least you can eat like a man. Another ad has a woman pulling her husband away from a game on TV to help her clean. She tells him he can watch again after he uses up a single sheet of Brawny paper towel. The next cut is to him later that night still scrubbing the floor. In an example that shows the incompetent or dependant man, an older man is having trouble with memory loss. He is comforted by his wife who is asking the medical questions.
In magazines, role reversal or female dominance is shown using several methods. One is to show a picture in which the mans attention is totally focused on the female while her attention is focused elsewhere. This shows both his commitment to her and the fact that she doesnt need him. Ad 3 was taken from The Ladies Home Journal. In this ad the couple is in bed, which gives the implication of sex. He is turned toward her but her hips and gaze are away from him. This implies her power or control in the bedroom. Ad 4, which was in Elle, shows a similar situation. His attention is totally on her while she is focused on us.
It is as if she is flirting with us while he pays attention to her. Once again Ad 5, from Jane, shows a mans eyes and body turned toward the woman while she is turned toward and looking at us. Ad 12 utilizes this same pattern. Simple positioning of the bodies can also imply a womans power or authority in a magazine ad. Ad 6 (Redbook) shows a woman pulling on a man. Ad 7, from Teen People, is subtler but uses both positioning and dress to show role reversal. The woman has her arm around the man and she is wearing a mans shirt. Ad 8 (Redbook) also uses two techniques, one subtle and one blatant.
The womans legs are in focus while his are not. She is the centerpiece of the image while he plays a supporting role. The text tomboy also directly conveys the idea of role reversal. Ad 9 (on the back of ad 4, Elle) also uses positioning and text to convey its message. The out of focus man and the text fling. show the womans power pretty obviously. The use of text supported by images in these ads is due to the left-hemispheric tendency to respond better to text than images. The two together are extremely effective. Another ad that blatantly shows male submission was printed in Elle.
This ad portrays a man focused on a woman ankle. Ad 10 shows a man lying on the ground at a womans feet. The images of men in ad 11, taken form Teen People, are not significant, but this ad shows the prominence of role-reversal and its appeal better than any other ad cited. The Ideal Relationship The image of the happily involved man has become popular in advertising (Kaufman, 1999). The key to this strategy is again the fact that women have the tendency to place themselves in the context of the ad. They see these happy couples and this causes desire for that type of relationship.
This desire is then subliminally associated with the product. The thing that these ads show that women aspire to is a relationship involving monogamy and marriage. These ads prey upon a womans desire to settle with a single man and live happily ever after (Stern; Holbrook, 1994). It is important to remember that when viewing these ads women see both partners as equal (Melville; Cornish, 1993). The fact is that the image of equal monogamous relationships sells products The image of the ideal relationship is one of the more popular ones in visual advertising.
In an ad for a prescription allergy medicine a woman is shown wheezing and coughing in the middle of the night. Her husband wakes up and comforts her. The ad then shows the two of them discussing her symptoms together and talking about how well the medication worked. The entire time the two are holding or touching each other. In another ad for dermatology, a voice over describes procedures that dermatologists can perform to increase beauty. The ad keeps cutting to different images of happy people. Several of the images are of happy couples involved in a variety of activities.
It seems to the viewer of both of these ads as though the product somehow contributed to the success of the relationship. The ideal relationship image is also prominent in magazine advertising. Ad 15, taken from Teen People, involves the same two models as ad 12. This time, however, the two are looking at each other. Each looks memorized by the other. Ralph Lauren is using several strategies in this campaign. Ad 16 (from the Ladys Home Journal) shows two attractive people lying on the ground. The scene is idyllic with green grass and shining sun.
He is asleep and she is comfortable resting on him. Once again they look as though they belong together. Appealing to different demographics, ad 17 (The Ladys Home Journal) and ad 18 (Health) show a black couple and an older couple respectively. Both couples look in love and happy to be with one another. All of these ads portray the married and/or monogamous image that appeals to women. The Voice Over In appealing to womens left hemispheric tendency to respond positively to audio messages as well as messages involving men many television ads use male voice-overs (Meyers-Levy, 1994).
Throughout all advertising males are more commonly used as voice-overs while women are more often portrayed visually (Furnham; Mak, 1999). This is directly due to the male tendency to appeal to visual stimuli and the womans tendency to appeal to audio stimuli. In approximately an hour and a half of television (1pm to 2:30pm on Lifetime) of commercials using voice-overs, the ratio of male to female voice-overs was 28:14 or 2:1. Many of these commercials utilized other advertising techniques as well. In many women spoke in conversation or as a voice-over but the technical or important information was stated by a male voice.
In some, however, the male voice-over was the only technique used. In one for Arm-and-Hammer dishwashing detergent an Arm-and-Hammer cartoon jumps around the screen as a woman fills the dishwasher. All the while the cartoon is telling us all of the advantages of this particular detergent in a male voice. In an advertisement for tourism in Virginia a males voice describes all of the states assets while appealing images of Virginia flash on screen. FiberChoice brand chewable fiber tablets also runs a commercial in which a male tells the viewer about the product. Even products that are intended solely for female use are described by men.
In one commercial the vitamins and minerals found in LOreal Skincare lotion and their benefits are recounted to watching women by a man. The use of male voice-overs is such a popular one because it can be used in conjunction with a wide variety of other techniques or it can effective by itself. Ads and Influence: a Self-Propelling Cycle There is no debating the theory behind advertising strategy. Ads are custom tailored to be effective on specific audiences (Furnham; Mak, 1999). Advertisers study how the brain remembers, processes, and responds to stimuli (Meyers-Levy, 1994).
They study demographics and learn what each section of the population wants and does not want. These finding are then used to create effective advertisements. It is an uncontested fact that the views of the population directly influence what appears in the ads shown to them. These views, however, are not without influence. Products portrayed as popular become more liked. All else being equal, people will choose the most popular option (Sutherland, 1993). Ads influence public opinion by conveying a sense of popularity. Ads also help to construct the populations views on gender (Kaufman, 1999).
We believe what is shown to us through the media is the way things are. Popular culture thrives because it appeals to the population but at the same time what appeals to the population is influenced by popular culture. This makes it hard to go wrong in the advertising business so long as one stays on top of what people like. The key is to suggest within the realm of possibility. The American populous is easily influenced by subliminal suggestion. As long as the ideas are not so radical as to drastically stand out from the norm, they will be embraced. This makes selling products to America a relatively feasible task.