Advertisement Stereotypes Essay

Stereotypes In Advertising Essay

After diving into result after result of internet searches for advertisements aimed at older people, I came to a stern realization; overall, there are very few. But, I found a few magazine and television advertisements that really spoke volumes about the notion of aging and older adults. Some of these advertisements viewed aging positively; showing that even at an older age people can be active and viewed quite popularly by public media. Unfortunately, other advertisements played on the negative stereotypes of aging and older adults, specifically with the notion that as you age you are unable to fully take care of yourself.
The first advertisement I found was from the AARP, showing a silver-haired woman in a red gown. The tagline on the advertisement said "To most marketers, consumers die the minute they turn 50." This statement pointed out that older people aren’t getting the advertisements they deserve. I found this interesting since it was the exact conclusion I had come to mere moments before. This advertisement could be extrapolated to show the stereotypes that older people don’t need to be advertised to because they are not a profitable population. It could be getting at a commonly held belief that as one ages, they become more and more predictable and less accepting of change. Therefore, they are less likely to buy a new or different product, and thus advertisers should not even try. Presently, the commercials and ads seem to all be pointed at 18 to 25 year olds who only care about sexy people, beer, and sports, an interesting phenomenon which was easily visible in my search.
The next advertisement I found came complements of People magazine. It showed a very fit, 48-year-old woman. The caption reads “BIKINI BODY AT 48!” Obviously, this magazine is showing the stereotype that as we age, we can only get ugly and out of shape. But, I feel like it may work against itself by trying to disprove that stereotype. This magazine puts so much emphasis on the fact that this woman is 48 and in incredibly good shape, that it is a one-in-a-million phenomenon. It looks as if the magazine, is saying ‘if you’re over 40, then you are out of shape. But, if you’re not, then you should be on the cover of a magazine!’ I don’t want to act like a person being in great shape at 48 is not a good thing, but I feel like the spectacle that People magazine makes this woman to be is having the effect that it is next to impossible for this to be the case.
The next three advertisements I found all dealt with the stereotype that as...

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Marketers are constantly seeking ways to make their products more easily identifiable to specific groups of end users. In some cases, they may intentionally or unintentionally use stereotyping to show a product as appealing to their desired target market or in an attempt to interject humor into the ad. Advertising stereotypes are often race- or gender-based in nature.

Child Gender Roles

Stereotyping can occur in advertisements geared toward and containing children. Boys are often portrayed as rough or aggressive, while girls are portrayed as more dainty or feminine. The Socjournal website points out a print advertisement where a boy is standing inside a gray pop-up castle, taking on a posture of power and dominance. A girl is shown cowering in fear outside the castle as if afraid to enter. A pink version of the castle is shown in a corner of the ad, indicating that the gray one is for boys while the pink one is for girls.

Shallow or Incompetent Male

Some advertisements play to the stereotype of young men as shallow and superficial. Beer commercials, for instance, often show males as engaging in sophomoric pranks or actions in an effort to impress women. With married couples in the process of making a household decision, the husband may be portrayed as a somewhat dim individual who means well but is essentially incompetent. The wife, on the other hand, is depicted as the one who is really in control of the situation and knows how to rectify the problem by using the advertised product.

Domesticated Female

Even in a time when many women work outside the home, they are still depicted as being in charge of all the domestic chores in the household. Ads for products like soap, laundry detergent, toilet tissue and child care items depict the women as having the ultimate responsibility for making the buying decisions for these products. Women are also shown as being in charge of food selection and meal preparation in the home.

Racial Stereotypes

Advertising can also perpetuate racial stereotypes that have lasted for generations. As an example, McDonald's came under heavy criticism for creating an advertisement depicting Chinese people who had difficulty pronouncing the letter "r." In England, the Advertising Standards Authority banned an ad showing a black man playing a ukulele and repeating every word a white man says, saying that the ad could be seen as showing blacks as subservient or inferior to whites.

About the Author

Chris Joseph writes for websites and online publications, covering business and technology. He holds a Bachelor of Science in marketing from York College of Pennsylvania.

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