Women stereotypes in advertising

“They are better educated, earning more money than ever, and make the bulk of buying decisions. Yet when it comes to wooing women, advertisers could use a lesson in the art of courtship.”
A recent study showed that ads targeted to women were mostly cliched and offensive, more at CNN.com

The Belfast Telegraph agress and lists five typical clichés of woman (as portrayed by advertisers). There's super-granny, The Beauty Bunny, Alpha females, The Fashionista and good ol' Perfect Mum - but do these women really exist in reality and do real women identify with these caricatures?

"We already understand that women are different from men. Now we need to understand that women are different from one another. They want to be catered to as individuals," said Rebekka Bay, the head of consumer trends at Enterprise IG.

Yes, we're all individuals! crowd cheers back: We're all individuals. I'm not!

Bay argues that advertisers need to change the way they research female consumers. Instead of focus groups about particular products, she believes that marketers should find out more about all aspects of women's lives.

Not a bad idea considering that women still hold most of the buying power - 88%! “53 percent of all stock purchases, 63 percent of personal computer buys, and 75 percent of all over-the-counter drug outlays.” according to the study which CNN reports on.

The Belfast article argues that this is not just a gender issue - which is true. Caricatures and stereotypes of men exist in advertising as well - we've all seen the bumbling buffoon, the beer-guzzler, the purse-holding husband et al. Many argue that when you only have thirty seconds to tell a story, you don't have much time to flesh out a character.

Perhaps if advertising spent less time telling jokes and showing 'settings' where we should identify and spent more time telling the story of the product, these things could be avoided.

Comments (6)

  • blkadr's picture

    Of course there's not enough time to flesh out a character, but showing a woman with a pot holder setting a dish onto a table where a man and children are waiting, or a woman complaining about soap scum while wearing rubber gloves and holding a spray bottle in her hand does get a certain point across, and that point is that women are supposed to tend the children, clean the house, and keep their husbands fed and happy. The husband's job is to be unable to cook or clean and be catered to. This stereotype makes me so angry that I can barely watch tv anymore.

    Mar 11, 2008
  • Dabitch's picture

    I keep coming back to this: Where did product as hero ads go? You know, the ones where the product was the character, the main star of the ad. Like Honda Cog, Bravia balls, Masterlock "repeat did not budge", and a bunch other ads I can't recall right now.

    Jun 02, 2011
  • fairuse's picture

    I know. The product as hero faded out about the same time jingles did? There is Mr Clean with that catchy jingle. No BS, just sell the product.

    And now some bad news for the stereotypes are needed crowd. Do you honestly think a "suit" such as my wife is going to buy into the line about "scrubbing bubbles" doing the work so her $$$ fingernail designs/polish won't get wet?

    The answer is yes & no. Yes if a product states that it has super duper high pressure steam scrubbing bubbles and it works, however, if the product is trash bin lame at its task then No. Lucky you, no repeat sales. Now the real bad news: I do the scrubbing and do not use any of the products pushed on TV. I buy a cleaner that works at the cheap price of $18.00 gal. ($ convert: 12.46 euro, 111.75 krona). There it is, the product explained and not simple minded stereotypes are the way to profits.

    Guess who buys cars, mobile phone, Sat Radio, grocery? Well she does, and along with my tech input items such as TV, DVR, DVD and computers. Advertisers have to throw out the 60s.

    RANT: Pepsi: Do you really think pushup boobs and a bouncy butt attached to way-long legs in a beach setting is going to sell more soft drink? .... waiting on answer ....


    Jun 02, 2011

Leave a comment

about the author

Dabitch Creative Director, CEO, hell-raising sweetheart and editor of Adland. Globetrotting Swede who has lived and worked in New York, London, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Stockholm.