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Advertisements in Terms of the Social Science

Article Choice

I chose four advertisements, as they appeared to be engaging in terms of the social science questions they identify and address. Each ad represents different products – toothpaste, locks, beer, and a Red Cross campaign. However, they are all united by the various social representation of individuals, their behaviors, and cultural attitudes, which are precious for social scientists’ investigations. For instance, the way male and female relationships are portrayed in some advertisements made me think and analyze how I see this interaction in real life.

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Assumptions and Observations

Audience

Each advertisement campaign targets different social groups to which it sends a particular message. It appears to be that all four ads are addressed to people from Western civilization who feel enough safe and have unlimited access to essential goods. It can be seen, for instance, from the Colgate commercial where people from developed countries are encouraged to save water by turning it off while brushing their teeth. Schlage locks commercial is also addressed to people from the western world, in particular, to make the audience. The same can be said about the Carlsberg campaign that targets males from developed countries. The Red Cross campaign addresses environmental concerns, earthquake catastrophes, and it seems that the message is also sent for people from the western world to raise the general public’s awareness of the topic.

Message

The four advertisements can be divided into two distinct groups concerning the message they send to the audience. The Colgate and Red Cross campaigns focus on extremely vital societal and environmental issues, such as wasting water at home and an earthquake catastrophe. The two ads’ primary purpose is to raise awareness about the problems and encourage people to act upon solving them. The other two campaigns – Carlsberg and Schlage locks – demonstrate interpersonal relationships between men and women. They target the male audience by advertising culturally such “male” products as beer and locks. Moreover, they show males and females as opposing groups by focusing on traditional gender roles.

Relationship between People

The Carlsberg and Schlage lock advertisement campaigns show females in the traditional secondary gender role. They are beautifully serving beers in the Carlsberg campaign and are hysterical, crazy, and uncontrolled in Schlage locks advertisement. Men also play their traditional role: the center of attention and the highest importance in women’s world. Thus, the primary point of the two campaigns for me as a social scientist is to observe the relationship between genders. In the two other campaigns (Red Cross and Colgate), people’s relationship is not the central point or even absent as in the Red Cross advertisement. In the Colgate advertisement, the focus is shifted from people’s connection to the relationship between human beings and nature.

Relationship with the Product

The Carlsberg and Schlage lock advertisements campaigns show how the products (beer and locks) complement the male character and leisure activities. Women play a secondary role in the relationship with a product where men are the key. In the case of Carlsberg, female characters support men by serving them drinks. In the Schlage locks campaign, women’s stereotypic “character” is mocked, and the product is presented as a “help” for men.

Effectiveness

In my personal view, Carlsberg and Schlage lock campaigns might be effective for the audience who share the values of traditional gender roles, where men are the central, and women play a secondary role. However, for those who support gender equality, such advertisements might cause negative reactions and provoke criticism. In this case, I pay attention to stereotypical gender roles depiction, rather than to the product advertised. I believe that the second group (Red Cross and Colgate) is more effective as they appeal to all people showing societal and environmental world issues, raising awareness, and calling to action. After watching the two advertisements, I googled the issues and learned new information on environmental problems.

Social Science Evidence

Concerning the Carlsberg and Schlage lock advertisement campaigns, it is clear that they represent gender stereotypes of women being hysteric and serving men daily. According to Smith (2016), gender is a socially constructed phenomenon found in numerous activities, including advertising. Women’s image has been created and promoted in advertisement campaigns through societal expectations (Smith, 2016). These expectations were found harmful to both women and men, and nowadays, big companies choose non-stereotyped advertising portrayals for both sexes (Akestam, 2017). Today gender-stereotypical campaigns do not find support from both western world society and companies. However, researchers are still deeply interested in studying gender stereotypes in commercials (Grau & Zotos, 2016). Speaking of Red Cross and Colgate campaigns, it is possible to note that the authors use techniques (contrasts) to demonstrate a noticeable difference in access to water (Colgate) and life comfort (earthquake in Red Cross campaign). The contrast makes people aware of the issues and, in some cases, forces action.

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Questions

As a social scientist studying advertising campaigns, I pose the following question: why are ads primarily based on showing gender biases and promoting expected female and male behaviors? Moreover, another problem that logically arises from the context is how does the human factor engage in personal and global contexts? I am interested in the answers as a social scientist, as I find them essential for further analysis and understanding of human behavior.

References

Akestam, N. (2017). Understanding advertising stereotypes: Social and brand-related effects of stereotyped versus non-stereotyped portrayals in advertising. (Publication No. 978-91-7731-071-6) [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. Stockholm School of Economics. Web.

Grau, S., L., & Zotos, Y., C. (2016). Gender stereotypes in advertising: A review of current research. International Journal of Advertising, 35(5), 761-770. Web.

Smith, J. (2016). Gender as a socially constructed phenomenon [PDF document]. Web.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "Advertisements in Terms of the Social Science." March 15, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/advertisements-in-terms-of-the-social-science/.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Advertisements in Terms of the Social Science'. 15 March.

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