Sunday, September 15, 2013

Advertisements and gender

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In my childhood, when we would watch TV, we usually were equally interested in commercials broadcasted on Door Darshan. It was the only channel that time. Commercials were not much professionalized and were at early stage.  Today the world has been changed. Consumerism is pampered, branding is important and advertisements are required to sell your product. Life style has been changed, disposable income is at hand. There are lots of avenues available to spend the money. Most of the time, you don’t need cash in your bank account.

This all has been major impact on our life. Companies muscle consumer ego while selling their products.

Our personalities are used to sell the product. There is a struggle between our “ego” which wants “pleasure” and our “superego” which asks us the “reason”. However pleasure has been dominant on your super ego (reason). In fact, advertising and marketing strategy is to create this struggle. Products symbolically satisfy consumers pleasure needs, substitute the product for the real thing.

However the question is why pleasure is co-related to sex by these companies? Every commercial in TV, Print etc has fundamental message that “if you own the particular product, you will get the pleasure” (which is acceptable), but then they go further and propagate, “if you own the particular product, you will get your dream woman where sexuality is explicitly broadcasted.

India is more sensitive and such issues, after the Nirbhaya case and sensitization towards gender equality; it is the question why such ads are broadcasted.  

Why does advertising use sex as an appeal to the consumer? Because it works. Sex is the second strongest of the psychological appeals, right behind self-preservation. Sexual desire’s strength is biological and instinctive. For many products it is possible to find (or invent) a sexual connection. The effectiveness of sex in advertising is gender linked. Men have minimal criteria for sexual desire. Basically, they are concerned with a woman's anatomy -- as long as a woman looks young enough and healthy, she is desirable.

In advertising it is easy to get a man's attention by using women's bodies and associate getting the woman if he buys the product. In general, female models are placed in sexually exploitative and compromising positions, sexually submissive postures, and with sexually connotative facial expressions. Media definitions of sexual attractiveness promote either extreme thinness or a thin waist with large hips and breasts. The sexual connection is much easier to set up for men than for women.  

At the other side, the use of sex in advertising to women is more difficult. Although the use of healthy, fit men may attract their attention and create desire, willingness to engage in intercourse is rarely aroused strictly because of a man's body. For a woman, sexual desire is a complex mixture of such factors as money, power, prestige, etc. To sell to a woman, advertising relies on that modern idea about how men and women relate -- romance. Although an ad may use a man's body as an attention getting device, he is usually shown in a romantic rather than sexual context.  

They assume unconscious motives influence consumer behavior. So called market research tries to identify these underlying unconscious forces (e.g., cultural factors, sociological forces).
Marketers should therefore better understand the target audience and how to influence that audience by engaging other strategies. After all women should not be viewed as an object and should be equally respected.

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