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Gender Stereotypes in Commercials

Advertising is the field of activities, which is known to be highly manipulative about human beliefs. Commercials are designed in the way to affect representatives of a certain social group, which shares common values, models of thinking and behavior. This paper considers the differences in approaches, which are used when created commercials aimed at men and women. It states that the models of stereotyped femininity and masculinity affect the perception of commercials, and hence it is used when creating them for male and female audience. The commercials Old Spice Body Wash for men and Secret Deodorant for women confirm these dissimilarities.

Overall, advertisement has a least two components: information and emotion. It is the right combination of the two, which accounts for success. They make up the message, which eventually urges a person to buy a particular good. In fact, people do not need things; what they need is positive emotions and confidence. So, commercials’ open or hidden emphasis is usually on how people’s dreams will come true or how the good is going to boost their confidence.

In terms of gender roles, confidence or non-confidence is closely related to a certain image or pattern that each person has in their mind. This model of femininity and masculinity is usually shaped by society in which a person is born. The media play prominent role in transferring this message to a human and can make a dramatic effect on people’s mind. When gender roles are reflected on screen, the key masculine and feminine features are usually exaggerated in order to make them evident.

The key point about gender is that people usually realize a gap between their self and a perfect model of femininity or masculinity, which they have on their mind. As a result, the feeling of insecurity emerges, which needs compensation and relief. People think that they lack certain qualities in order to become a perfect man or a perfect woman. So, commercials strive to link their products to these qualities, which people need to obtain and present them as part of their products. Now, a person does not want to buy a good, he or she wants to buy the lacking quality and the feeling of confidence and pleasure, which is associated with it. The point is that these qualities or gender stereotypes of success are different for men and women, so commercials exploit them differently.

In order to consider these aspects in more detail, it is worth having a closer look at Old Spice and Secret commercials. Speaking about Old Spice Wash, it has a whole series of commercials featuring Terry Crews. These commercials are an illustrative example of masculine stereotypes. First of all, there is a focus on appearance. However, while in case with women’s appearances the emphasis is more on beauty, perfect looks of a man are associated with physical strength. The exaggerated “machismo” is a classical male gender stereotype that is used by commercials. In the discussed commercial it is presented in two ways: through appearance and through behavior. In terms of appearance, the main character of the commercial is drawn as a body-builder boasting his heap of muscles, and while demonstrating them to the audience, he repeats a short message about the product several times. Speaking about masculinity revealed through behavior, it is done by means of deliberately self-confident and vulgarly male manners.

Another aspect about this commercial is the cultural reference that it contains. No doubt, previous pieces of pop culture affect understanding of masculinity in this commercial. Thus, it is impossible to trace the influence of comics on the action of the commercial. This helps creators achieve several important goals. First of all, such approach helps portraying the hero as being larger than life. He is associated with superheroes like Batman when crashing walls and destroying skyscrapers. This reveals his physical might, which is a key feature of male gender stereotype. Secondly, it is worth saying that the concept of being a winner is vital within this stereotype. So, the character is positioned in the way that the audience receives a clear message about him as a winner. Hence, a link between the product and winning is created, so the audience is triggered by this opportunity to change their self-attitude. It is remarkable that the exaggerated demonstration of masculinity looks weird and funny but humor is a typical element for male commercials, while female commercials are more serious in many cases.

Speaking about Secret Deodorant as an example of female commercials, it is easy to notice that women are more focused on relationships than men. In the commercial a woman who is a secret agent, is able to change her clothes quickly after a risky operation and is protected from odor by deodorant, so she can go for a date. Thus, ending the commercial with a date represents the main goal of a woman, which is being a successful and happy as a woman first of all. This commercial still adjusts to the trend of the time, where a woman is both strong and feminine. She is independent from a man, she can decide on her life on her own. Still, relationships are her priorities, but she stays with the man because she chooses this, not because of being dependent or helpless in other spheres.

Another commercial of the same deodorant is ended with the message: “Secret. Because you are hot”. This demonstrates another peculiarity of female gender stereotype: today it has more emphasis on sex appeal than it used before. It is important for a woman to be sexually attractive, so the commercial appeals to this desire. The commercial reveals that the heroine is an ordinary woman who is on her way to experiencing change. She becomes attractive after using the deodorant because she becomes more confident. It is remarkable that female commercials usually need to use men to emphasize the heroine’s femininity. So, she is dancing salsa with a stereotypical macho, and is watched by her female friends. Presence of female friends is another common trait that many of woman-oriented commercials have. For a woman, her friends’ approval of her actions or appearance is no less important than her success with men. Besides, presence of friends reveals the readiness of other women to follow the heroine. Generally, according to gender stereotypes, males are often depicted as more individualistic, while females are more sociable. Besides, male commercials demonstrate rivalry more often, while female commercials focus on women’s secrets and advice sharing. So, women’s commercials aim at boosting a woman’s confidence about her sexuality and being successful in relationships, both with males and with her friends.

All in all, the discussed commercials demonstrate that gender stereotypes are different for men and women. Commercials designed for men, use the models of physical power and self-confidence to attract the audience. They refer to popular culture, comics, superheroes, which ensemble them to present a man as a large-than-life winner. Female commercials focus on relationships, especially with males but also with female friends. Although a woman is presented as increasingly independent, her priorities are different. Besides, female ideal pattern is related to being perfectly beautiful and sexual, and this again is necessary to appeal to men.

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