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Male Images in Media

Essay by review  •  September 19, 2010  •  Research Paper  •  3,607 Words (15 Pages)  •  1,147 Views

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82 full pages of the April 2001 Redbook magazine are devoted to selling products ranging from shoes to shampoo. 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 America's 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, etc

.) as well as where the advertising will be most effetc

ive. 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 woman's mood her increased euphoria will subliminally be linked with the stimulus (the ad). This will, in turn, have a positive effetc

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 dependent

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 diretc

ed) 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 corretc

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 effetc

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 effetc

s 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 women's 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

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