Visual advertisements have been known to carry messages within them that transcend beyond the products they sell. Some of the messages in a majority of visual items today relate closely to gender roles and what societies believe are male or female roles. Visual ads, knowingly or unknowingly continue to perpetuate these stereotypes using their representation of women and men. Colors, text, models and other visual effects used on products all work together towards creating a string rhetoric pertaining gender roles.
When analyzing visual items in terms of gender roles, it is important to first look at what the intended audience for the product is. It is also just as important to analyze what the publishing context for the ad was when it was published. For a long time, ads have been a reflection of societies on expectations of femininity and masculitnity as well as what roles the two genders should playing the society. While many advertisements have changed with the changing views of gender roles, it is important to notice thats some products continue to advertise their services in the same way. This is an indication of societies own continued view of gender roles.
One such ad that seems to suggest certain information regarding gender roles is that visual ad for Biz detergent. The advertisement is available on the internet and has also appeared in more than 57 million copies of newspapers as an insert coupon. Readers of American newspapers might have seen the advertisement as well as other women who may be subscribed to such sites as Girlfriendology on the Internet which promoted the advertisement as it had been part of the making. It is also quite easy to find the ad image once you try to look for a detergent online that can fit your needs. To fully analyze these ad, we must analyze not only the images on it, but the subtext as well and what message the ad is trying to sell, beyond just the product.
The intended audience for this advertisement is women. This can easily be seen from the way the advert is set up and designed. The picture used on the advertisement is that of a woman, smiling while holding the detergent. It is meant to suggest that using the detergent will provide great satisfaction, and as a result, great happiness to all women who choose to use it. The ad is trying to sell detergent which can be seen at first glance. The woman on the ad is holding a bottle of biz detergent. The product is prominently displayed on the ad, almost as prominently as the woman on the as is. The model pictured is female, and looks like a regular woman who must therefore have a home that she takes care of.
The fact that the model used for the advertisement is a clear indication that the product is meant, majorly for women. The product being advertised is a detergent, used for laundry and other household cleaning chores, this indicates that women have been assigned the role of doing laundry and other household shoes relating to cleaning. This role assigned to women by the advertisement is greatly stereotypical, indicating that women are meant to do the cleaning in households, and not men. As stated above, the woman appears to be just an average woman. She is wearing makeup but is only slightly done making her relatable to every day women. Her hair is simply styled and she has a pale blue shirt on. This is a good idea as it indicates just how effective the detergent is in terms of cleaning clothes, especially the brightly colored ones that are the toughest to clean. The ad, therefore, suggests that women who chose to buy their product will be as happy as the model and will have their clothes looking just as sparkly and clean.
The subtext of the advertisement also indicates that it is meant for women and not men. The text on the ad reads GIRLFRIEND, you have to try Biz! it then goes on to state that it is detergent that works on food stains, baby formula, lipstick, grass and blood. This are stains that are commonly problematic to women and men. Additionally, the text combined with the picture seems to suggest that it is women that are in charge of feeding the baby. All in all, the stereotype of the woman as a homemaker and not a man. There is no depiction whatsoever, that a man might even be remotely interested in purchasing a bottle of detergent for his own needs. Therefore, the woman is depicted as the domestic caretaker who feeds her baby, looks good and does the laundry. Even though this is typical for some families, it is also a clear indicator of what societal gender role expectations are in general, especially regarding women and laundry. It is also important to note that the woman on the ad does not look angry or forced.
In conclusion, visual ads sometimes work into promoting existing societal stereotypes regarding gender roles. However, their aim is to make sure that the product being sold has as many buyers as possible. Many marketers do not believe that men have very keen interests on detergents and other materials used in cleaning. As such, they focus on audiences that are more likely to be attracted to the product. Ads are only, therefore, a reflection of a general view in society.
Haupert, D. (2010). Girlfriendology in BIZ Stain Fighter Ad | Girlfriend Recommended Brands. Online resource. < http://www.girlfriendology.com/girlfriendology-in-biz-stain-fighter-ad/>
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