Advertisements & Women.

27 09 2009

In the 21st Century of today, whereby rapid technological advancement has increasingly provided a source of empowerment for the Mass Media, it is indeed, inevitable that our individual perception has unawaringly undergone various changes, be it positive or negative.

The main cause of this? I would attest it to be that of, mainly, the subconscious yet powerful influence of Advertisements. This influence may prove to be the strongest (and coincidentally, most criticised) in many mass media outlets both targeting the female audience, or in advertisements featuring women.

Personally, I feel that advertisements with the female audience in mind, tend to frequently utilise both pathos (the appeal to emotion) and ethos (the persuasive appeal of one’s character) to drive messages across.

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The advertisement above features Yuri Ebihara, a well-known Japanese actress and model, advertising a new “Ebi-Burger” for Japan’s Macdonalds. This shows explicitly how advertisers make use of popular figures, especially in the entertainment line, hoping to influence consumers to purchase these products. A complex similarity indicator is created by associating the consumption of these burgers with the svelte figure of Ms Ebihara, which may create the perception in consumers that this new burger may be healthier, or that it may contain lesser fat content. The certain vibrancy which has been brought out in the ad also hints at the possibility of the target audience being the younger generation, whom are active and youthful.

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As seen above, Dior has employed similar tactics in an attempt to woo the female consumer market. Monica Bellucci, a Hollywood actress famous for her sultry looks and porcelain skin, forefronts these recent ads by Dior. Surprisingly, or perhaps shockingly to some, this Italian belle turns 45 this year. Naturally, by making her the model for their campaigns, Dior would be able to attract large numbers of middle-aged ladies whom would be most willing to part with their money in exchange for that youthful glow and exuberance exuded by Monica. Thus by associating Monica’s attractiveness and youthful looks with Dior cosmetics, consumers may formulate a link between the two and be more inclined to purchase these products.

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Even as such, different cultures across the world have different perceptions on what exactly embodies the ideal feminine beauty. This is reflected heavily in advertisements as well.

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As seen in the Guess and Victoria’s Secret ads respectively, one may notice that in the Western culture, in particular the American, a female who possesses a tanned complexion and toned physique would be normally considered and intepreted to be attractive by the majority of the population.

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However, in Asian countries, women are considered ideal if they possess milky fair skin and a more demure outlook, as seen in the Korean ads above.

Thus, these prototypes we form as ideal representations tend to differ between cultures and the individuals.

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However, females portrayed in many advertisements today have been sexualised, possibly to intensify messages in order to leave a more lasting impression on consumers (in particular toward the male consumer group).

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Tom Ford Fragrance for Men

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MensWear for Tom Ford

The first ad exemplifies dismemberment of the female body; whereby only parts of the female body could be seen. In this case, I am unsure whether it was the aim and objective of the fashion house to create hype and buzz by the sexual connotations implied in the ad, but perhaps it was to create a sense of novelty. Personally, I feel it is a demeaning and objectifying portrayal of women which may perpetuate the misintepretation that “a woman’s body is not connected to her mind and emotions”.

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Romance by Ralph Lauren

In the ad above by Ralph Lauren, one may intepret via non-verbal communication techniques, of the female being portrayed as more submissive, and the male is being a dominant figure. This may be seen via kinesics, the study of body language and haptics, the study of touch in communication, which we may intepret from the above, of the male figure retaining some form of dominance over the female from the way he is holding her firmly with two hands.

The usage of body language to amplify the sexualisation of even, (*gasp*) a female cartoon character, can be observed in the commercial video below.

Yes, it’s an ad for the new Mint M&Ms premium chocolates. Surprise surprise.

This also further advocates the branding of M&Ms as being attractive, targeted solely at the female audience, many whom tend to avoid “sinful treats” like chocolates.

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In conclusion, I do personally feel that advertisements are not only able to entice us to buying into an idea or product, but they also somehow do subconsciously influence and may even change our ideals and perceptions through subtle ways. Some ways in which ads are constructed create miscommunication in society today, with the high levels of sexual connotations and portraying women are being sexual objects, causing a misrepresentation of the female population.

How about you? How powerful do you think advertisements are in conveying messages and even possessing the ability and capacity to alter society’s perception towards different gender or racial groups? Do you think that non-verbal communication may be more effective than verbal communication when attempting to illustrate a message (such as in print advertisements)?

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8 responses

27 09 2009
CK

Media is already a platform which has large potential to influence the perceptions of people. The differentiated way of portraying similar ideas influences people in different manner and the same goes for advertisements.

I think that advertisements are powerful in not just enticing people to buy products but also in possessing the capacity to influence the perception of society. An advert may seem harmless to one group of people but it may convey a certain massage that can be racist/sexist etc and can be offensive to another group of people.

Non-verbal communication can provide a deeper impression in people and may prove to be a more powerful form of influence than verbal communication. Studies have shown that people learn through many different means and a huge group of people learn through non-verbal means such as vision, kinetics. Non-verbal communication in this sense provides quite a huge potential to influence these group of people.

28 09 2009
Ho Q

It is to my conviction that advertisements do play a large role in today’s context in its role to convey messages, be it a sales advertisement or that of a propaganda. Its capacity to reach out to a large mass and its huge impact on the mindset of each individual cannot be belittled. On top of that, its ability to alter society’s perception may be prove itself to be a double-edged sword. Sales advertisements featuring a certain race, ethnic, a fashion style or other sensitive areas may be dangerous as the message being put across may influence the mindset of the society to be the ‘norm’ and the more ‘powerful’ one.

In my opinion, to say that either a non-verbal communication or verbal communication is more effective in conveying a message to the general population would be biased. Each individual is inclined towards a certain mode of communication, be it through non-verbal means such as gesture, body language, facial expression and eye contact, paralanguage (voice quality, emotion and speaking style), or through verbal means such as a conversation, writing and sign languages. However, when we speak or listen, our judgement includes both verbal and nonverbal cues. Each mode of communication complement each other, hence to isolate a certain one as a more effective mode of communication would be inappropriate.

Oh well, if i MUST choose one, personally it would be through non-verbal communication for me. This mode of communication brings forth more meaning. It is when you seek the message when there is no clear message that you find it more meaningful, significant and lasting. :)

29 09 2009
Jayho

Advertising has become a large part of our lives. I would have to agree that advertising has a profound effect on our society as a whole. It has developed into one of our cultures primary sources for information, solutions, ideas, and entertainment. With the aid of technology, advertisers reach a broad spectrum of people, by using resources such as television, magazines, newspapers, billboards, the Internet, etc. it is easy to see how they can have such huge impact on the consumers.

Advertisers play on our fears as well as our desires, and try to sell us the product to fix the problem that in reality doesn’t exist. One only has to look at the weight loss industry, which is worth billions each year, to see how they cleverly exploit the fear that we are overweight and in need of their product to help us lose weight. “Eat this and lose weight?” says the smiling attractive female. Mass media vehicles and technological advances support and facilitate the hyper-commercialization of society. Consumers are manipulated to buy the idea of the branded imagery, influenced to connect emotionally, and are ultimately entertained by the featured good or service. Television, journalism, radio, film, music, and public relations serve corporate needs and bolster hyper-commercialism best through strategies of product placement and co-production.

Media reinforcement of hyper-commercialism ultimately undermines democratic principles of public interest and generates a misinformed and manipulated people unable to oppose corporate control and without the power to freely express themselves as consumers or individual citizens.

30 09 2009
Alan Yong

Advertising is time or space bought to help sell products and services. Thus companies have to make full use of the “expensive” time and space, using well known personalites to attract our attentions and persuade potential customers to patronize the brand product or services.

Using of well known personalites make to “persuade” us to lower our unwillingness to spend, follow our urges, our wants. Have you ever wonder why despite the recent hard times, spendings never fail to fall. It’s the power of advertising.

Furthermore, nowadays, facts and advertisting are getting harder to differentiate from one another. One could not help to wonder if the credibility of the particular advertisement or health, beauty related television program.

Something that I would suggest is that it would also be nice if any person on the street can be picked to be the endorsing party as normal people like us, would feel that “hey, if this person can have this effect after this product, so can I.” thus making it more convincing.

30 09 2009
Packrat

Didn’t I cover all this in GP?

Glad you’re doing something you enjoy. :)

30 09 2009
drawurswords

I think it is a very interesting topic to do on. Simple advertisements like these could pack so much subliminal messages along with the main idea.

Advertisers are known to fully engage the audience’s minds in regards to the products they are advertising for. They know exactly what to include or exclude in their products to appeal to both the consumers and their clients. These 3 form a triangular relationship in which all 3 subjects are interdependent on one another.

Man are given the intelligence to manipulate other living things, including their own kind. Advertisers uses emotions in humans to convey messages which words are unable to. The naked human body brings out the innate primitive behaviour within our hearts to create certain emotions which is deemed beneficial to product companies. Such an idea has always been in the grey area as to whether it is ethical to use people of different races or genders in commercials, in it which biased opinions may be introduced just to bring a simple marketing idea across. True enough, non-verbal messages could send out a stronger signal to the targeted audience. However I feel that there must be a clear line drawn as to how far such communication can go so as to filter unnecessary or junk information out.

2 10 2009
ella umbrella

To answer your questions in the last paragraph, I think advertisements are so goddamn powerful we have an industry of it providing jobs and keeping the economy alive because every product sales relies heavily on advertisements.

So yes, advertisement (or media) is of such great influence that whether it’s verbal or non-verbal, each has it’s pros and cons and like pieces in a chess game it’s up to the advertiser how one should use them (individually or both as complements) the best way to appeal to the masses.

2 10 2009
ella umbrella

and why is everyone commenting in essays. damn i dont study these stuffs.

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