Communications Essays - Gender and Media Advertising

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Gender and Media Advertising.

Introduction:

The final dissertation will research, analyze and summarize the findings pertaining to the use of gender in advertising and the possible effects on the target market and society.

The media advertising covered to include both print and electronic media and will, at minimum, encompass examples from magazines, television and Internet advertising, as they are the most pervasive within western society.

A brief history of advertising and common techniques used in advertising, such as branding, to be included as background information.

Methodology. 

Content analysis to be done on selected major advertising campaigns in the three specified media of magazines, television and Internet. Additional quantitative analysis tools will be used, where required.

Body 

The research question to be addressed is:
Identify and analyze the use of gender in media advertising, and its probable effects on society and summarize the findings. Provide background information on the historical and ethical use of advertising, including marketing techniques and refer to key proponents of the subject.

For the purpose of the dissertation the following definitions will be applied throughout Gender (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender): “the characteristics, whether biological or socially influenced, by which people define male and female.” (Myers, 2002)Advertising (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advertising) Generally speaking, advertising is the promotion of goods, services, companies and ideas, usually by an identified sponsor.

To achieve the required results, information and advertisements will be gathered from multiple sources; including magazines with different target audiences, television advertising and related articles, as well as Internet sites that promote specific products. Internet sites to include both product sites which are selected by the consumer and pop up advertising which is unsolicited.
The content analysis of the data will take into consideration the techniques used, how appropriate the gender usage is related to the nature of the product being marketed and the target audience.

The results to be summarized, categorized and reported based on the different media being evaluated as they use differing marketing techniques. This could result in gender content in advertising being less appropriate in certain mediums, based on the target audience and whether the target had the choice to select the specific advertisement.

  • Printed media provides standard content for all consumers who view or purchase the magazine
  • Television advertising is timed, niche type marketing to gain the attention of the most likely target market e.g. car related products advertised during NASCAR racing 
  • Internet advertising is often one-on-one marketing based on the specific consumers past usage of Internet sites and information gathered by marketers on consumers from their web sites. e.g. Amazon analyze purchases made and then advertise selected products based on this history data to that individual consumer

Certain products advertise using all of the above channels and are likely to prove to be good examples for inclusion in the dissertation. They will provide a total view of a product’s advertising strategy, as well as have a broad effect on society. Such products advertising could include additional channels, such as billboards and cinema advertising and this should be noted and included, where applicable. Where possible, marketing research carried out by the products marketing company will be included to validate the target markets and identify their marketing strategies.  

The analysis must include the use of both men and women in advertising and the results need to identify and specify the differences and similarities in the use of both in the specific advertisements.  For this to provide a balanced comparison, the products for both sexes should be comparable, e.g. apparel.

In addition to specifically looking at the effects of gender in advertising, any product that displays misleading facts, either by inclusion or omission of relevant facts, in any aspect, is to be investigated and included in the results.

I believe that the dissertation will show that there are many examples of gender being included inappropriately by the media. If the introduction of a specific gender in an advertisement has no bearing on the product or the usage thereof, and is included only to engage the interest of the potential consumer, the inclusion is likely to be unnecessary and probably inappropriate.
Such misuse could result in a number of negative effects on the consumer, for example

  • Raises false expectations of the effect of the product being marketed
  • Creates stereotypes in the minds of the general public which are erroneous

Literature review

As part of the analysis, identify and read up articles from key authors on the subject matter and include their findings relating to gender issues in advertising and any other appropriate sources outputs in the dissertation.

Assumptions

  • The dissertation is limited to advertising for an adult market and will not include marketing specifically aimed at children or teens.
  • The study will only include media in English that is primarily used in the western world
  • If specific print magazines, periodicals, companies or advertising campaigns are to be included in the study, this will be stated by the client
  • The dissertation relates to advertising directed at the general public and therefore excludes business-to-business marketing and advertising strategies.

Possible Limitations

  • The topic will be limited to media advertising in English speaking, western society only, although I believe the use of gender in advertising could have a far greater negative impact in the Middle and Far East.
  • The culture of consumers differs across Europe and the Americas and certain cultural groups will view advertisements differently. If the advertising has been customized by country or region to accommodate differing cultures, this could fragment some of the results.

Conclusion:

The choice of suitable products and the media advertising utilized is vital to the quality of the final dissertation. Tables and graphs to be included to illustrate the findings, where applicable.
The dissertation will summarize the findings of the analysis carried out and document both the negative and positive aspects of gender usage as studied in media advertising. Any unethical practices identified which result in misleading the target market to be included, regardless of whether they specifically relate to the inclusion of gender bias.

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