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Gender and Advertisements

In the world of advertising, gender is seemingly the main theme that is frequently used in introducing certain products to the public. This theme may raise particular issues such as discrimination and exploitation. Perfectly sculpted pictures of men and women grace the pages of these magazines as endorsers. Editors and owners of these products use these types of advertising strategies to sell more copies of their magazines and also help the cause of the products that they promote.

The masculinity or femininity of a certain advertisement found inside the pages of a magazine systematically targets certain social, age, and obviously gender groups to entice the public into buying the products that it promotes. It also induces obscene connotations with regard to image shown by the advertisement. While the roles of these advertisements may vary in our society, the messages that they send out the consumers tend to change their image and values which in turn can be costly in the part of the people.

Gender and Advertisements People read magazines all the time. They yearn for information and other means of entertainment within the pages of our favorite magazine. News magazines provide them with insights regarding current events within the local and international scene. Fashion and showbiz magazines are famous among the adolescents and middle aged women because these magazines update them with the newest trends in fashion and hottest gossips which they use for everyday conversations.

Sports and men’s magazines interest their readers with profiles of their favorite athletes, statistics from previous games, latest gadgets and gizmos, plus photos of famous female celebrities or models. While magazines provide the public with information and entertainment on a periodic basis, advertisement pages are sometimes left disregarded but somehow tend to catch the attention of the readers once in a while. The Definition and Function of Advertisements An advertisement in definition is anything intended to promote sale (http://www. yourdictionary. com/advertisement).

It is one of the most famous means of communication between producer and consumer. In order to promote sale, companies employ different strategies to attract consumers to purchase a certain good. A tactic being used by producers involves hiring models, celebrities, and athletes to be endorsers. Being an endorser is big money for those who agree to promote these certain items. Companies hire the services of these endorsers not just to enhance the image of the product but also to catch the attention of those consumers who idolize the endorsers of their products.

People tend to imitate the people they see on television, movies, and magazines. The reason behind this notion is that ordinary people want to live a similar lifestyle by identifying themselves with celebrity figures. Advertisements give the ordinary people a chance to put themselves in a position where they can eat, smell, and wear the things that their idols are using. In return, the companies generate huge profits and make a lot of money off the fame of their endorsers and the products that they sell to the consumers.

The Image of Men and Women in Advertisements While advertisements tend to be harmless to readers, it is worthy to note other people’s views regarding issues that go beyond the advertisements. Issues such as exploitation and discrimination among both sexes can be raised due to the fact that the images portrayed by some advertisements tend to contain obscenity and convey negative messages. Jackson Katz, one of the prominent male anti-sexists in the United States (“Biography– full,” n. d.

), observed that “historically, use of gender in advertisings has stressed difference, implicitly and even explicitly reaffirming the “natural” dissimilarity of males and females” (Katz, 1998, p. 135). Hence, the psychological effects of advertisement on consumers are very evident especially in a world culture that somehow has accepted diversity within its society. In the advertising industry, masculinity depicts the violent nature of becoming or being a “man. ” According to Harry Brod (1987), the system has allowed non working class men to validate themselves as “masculine” by exploiting the physical body to assert their “manhood.

” With the creation of the “Marlboro Man” as a stereotypical symbol of a real man, the image depicted by this character has unconsciously stuck with the ideology of consumers, especially men. This image of men as strong and somewhat violent individuals was strengthened by the rise of action movies in the 1980’s. With actors like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Bruce Willis, the white working class individual became the norm for being the real man’s man. Thus, Caucasian men looked up to Rocky Balboa and John McLain as action heroes whom they can identify with.

The only problem is that the images portrayed by these action heroes were violent for some people, making violence a social issue among white working class men. Many men were caught up with this ideology that some started to imitate their heroes, turning them into somewhat aggressive individuals. Advertisers also incorporated sports as well as the military to enhance the images of their products. The target markets for these types of ads were basically teenagers and young adults who crave for adventure and an outlet for their raging hormones.

These young adults and teenagers at this crucial period in their lives are looking for their own identities. With high-profile athletes as endorsers and the inspirational persuasion of military-based ads, advertisements give these adolescents the choices which they can identify with. The only downside of this advertising approach is that it most certainly will lead into gender discrimination towards the opposite sex (Katz, 1998, p. 135-136). The female gender is more prone to exploitation and discrimination in advertisements.

Females have always been subjected to discrimination throughout history. However, in the world of advertisement, females take on the role of the passive and submissive individuals who stand weak against the violent nature of men. Females are also perceived mainly as a sex symbol. The theme which producers use to sell their products is suggestive of sex or the depiction of sex. According to Jean Kilbourne, a renowned speaker about women’s image in advertisement (“Jean Kilbourne,” n. d.

), “sex in advertising is pornographic because it dehumanizes and objectifies people, especially, women, and because it fetishes products, imbues them with erotic charge—which dooms us to disappointment since products never can fulfill our sexual desires or our emotional needs” (Kilbourne, 1998, p. 271). Advertisers use pretty and sexy women to flaunt their good looks in their ads to make their products sell. With their good looks and provocative poses, women models incorporate their sexuality in the products that they promote which attract both male and female consumers.

Analysis of Advertisements in Slam and Cosmo Girl There are literally so many ads inside of a magazine that they take up one-eight of the magazine itself. The two magazines I choose to compare was a basketball magazine called Slam that targets a male audience, and the other one is Cosmo Girl which targets adolescent girls. The advertisements in Slam magazine were typical for any sports magazine. One advertisement showed high-profile athletes like Ray Allen and Derek Jeter sporting the Jordan Brand. Jordan Brand is a clothing line produced by Michael Jordan, also an icon in the sport of basketball.

In the article written by Jackson Katz (1998), he pointed out a specific characteristic of masculinity in advertising. The advertisement uses the military and sports symbolism. The use of military and sports as reference to masculinity is in line with the fact that soldiers and athletes are the epitome of being a man. The advertisement was just simple, with nothing offensive going on in the background, but the mere fact that Ray Allen and Derek Jeter wear Jordan Brand tells something about their achievements in their respective sports.

Their achievements as athletes are reflections of their manliness and effort to sustain an image of confidence and excellence. Young athletes look up to these two sports figures, positively contributing to the marketability of the Jordan Brand and its appeal to sports fans. Another advertisement I found in the Slam magazine that is related to the symbolism of military and sports was about the U. S. Air force. The advertisement uses Kevin Collins, an aspiring pilot for the Air force, as the endorser. On the background of the advertisement is a list of things that he can do when he basically joins the U.

S. Air force. The advertisement shows that anyone can be a Kevin Collins and could fulfill his own goals and dreams once he signs up for the Air force. This kind of persuasiveness from these articles entices those who stumble upon this advertisement to inquire more about the subject. The advertisements I found in the magazine of Cosmo Girl were a bit too feminine in the sense that they focus more on how the products that the models endorse can improve the physical appearance of girls. Advertisements for perfumes make-ups, beauty ointments, and such were the dominant elements in the magazine.

While browsing away through the magazine, there were two specific advertisements that caught my attention not because of the beautiful girls that grazed the pages but the slogans that the advertisers use to promote the products. The first advertisement was for Tommy Girl perfume. The advertisement contains a pretty girl, and within the background is the flag of the United States. At first glance, the connection between the girl, the flag, and the perfume was not evident, but at the bottom part of the ad, the product’s slogan “a declaration of independence” was displayed, catching my attention.

With this slogan and the overall image that the ad presents, the advertisement stresses the freedom or independence of a strong female individual to choose whatever she pleases. This advertisement also incorporates the flag as a symbol of patriotism that should be instilled in each individual regardless of gender and race. The second advertisement is for a make-up line. There are two girls side by side, and they look like having a good time. By the way that they are dressed, you can see that they are portrayed as popular girls in school.

There is nothing really worth noticing about the ad except for the slogan that reads “some girls have all the fun. ” The slogan struck me the most because it would seem that the only girls who have fun are the pretty or popular ones. Though this situation does not connote any exploitation, the advertisement shows a reality regarding discrimination among the same gender. It is a wide notion among pop culture that there are certain girls that society depicts as “beautiful. ” This raises issues of insecurity especially among adolescent girls.

Adolescent girls nowadays are prone to insecurities because they put too much pressure upon themselves to fit in with what society deems to be “beautiful”. Once they do not fulfill these expectations, these young women turn to alternatives such as drugs and alcohol in a last stand to make themselves fit in with the “it” crowd. Conclusion Advertisements are a popular means of getting through a generation full of diversity and imagination. Ads are an important part in the relationship between the producer and the buyer. They introduce certain goods that the public can avail just by browsing through newspapers and magazines.

Even though advertisements can induce negative implication towards society, they are still a form of communication. These ads convey messages to the public and leave an impact on the people who see them. Advertisements are also a good way of being socially aware of issues that surrounds our everyday lives. Without advertisements we would not know what to buy or what is good or not good for us. Moreover, advertisements have become an integral part of the media in promoting products that would benefit an individual’s physical appearance and boost his or her confidence to better interact with society.


Biography – full (n. d. ). Jackson Katz. Retrieved September 30, 2008 from http://www. jacksonkatz. com/bio2. html Jean Kilbourne. (n. d. ). Jean Kilbourne. Retrieved September 30, 2008 from http://www. jeankilbourne. com/bio. pdf Definition of advertisement. Retrieved October 3, 2008 from http://www. yourdictionary. com/advertisement Katz, J. Advertising and the Construction of Violent White Masculinity. Kilbourne. J. “Can’t Buy My Love”. “Two Ways a Woman Can Get Hurt” Advertising and Violence

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