Portrayal Of Women In Advertising Media Essay

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This paper will concentrate on the portrayal of women in advertising. I will be looking more specifically at how women characters are depicted in 2M TV ads. The portrayal of women in TV ads is a worthwhile topic to investigate because it examines how real the representation of women is on television, and how this portrayal of women affects the attitudes of the viewers. Several "western "studies drawn in the same vein have shown that advertising does not mirror a realistic view of women and their roles in society. Advertising depicts the traditional version of women, which is very often related to the submissive, beautiful and the intelligent "creatures". Advertising treats women as products or commodities, for this reason we referred to women in the previous line as "creatures". She is the product herself; a product that is selling a product.

According to Diane Barthel (1988, p. 7):

"In the 1920s the gender role division between production ( male ) and consumption ( female), was used by advertisers to justify their profession and to raise it in the public eye."

Thus, the process of consumption was always regarded as women's work. They are the ones who sell , and in return; they are the ones who spend too much in selling goods . As Diane Barthel (1988 Op. Cit) states , " …. If we look at overall purchase of consumer goods we see that women still control some 80 percent of the buying power"

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In this research paper, I will merely shed lights on the negative portrayal of Moroccan women in TV ads. Increasingly, Moroccan women are taking on a broader role in society. Yet, our Moroccan TV ads still falsify the image of women through backward misrepresentation far from reality. This awkward portrayal gradually influences the people's perception towards gender roles and this is accomplished through the repetitive exposure of woman as a housewife, mother or submissive being. The process of repetition help people to easily memorize images without questioning that is why I opt for the use of Cultivation theory by Gerbner (1979), because it deals with the effect of TV on viewers in terms of their perceptions and behaviors. This theory suggests that, the effect of all this exposure to the same messages produces what has been called cultivation, or teaching of a common worldview, common roles and common values (Gerbner, Gross, Morgan and Signorieli, 1980, p.10).

Cultivation Theory holds the assumption that media, for instance TV, has got the power to influence and manipulate the people's mind through repetitive exposure. Television regarded as the major source of information today has become a part of our daily life and part of our family as well. George Gerbner likened it to a:

"key member of the family, the one who tells the most stories most of the time" (Gerbner et al 1980, p. 14)

According to (Gerbner, Gross, Morgan and Signorieli p 19 ):

"Compared to other media, television provides a relatively restricted set of choices for a virtually unrestricted variety of interests and publics. Most of its programs are by commercial necessity designed to be watched by nearly everyone in a relatively nonselective fashion. Surveys show that amount viewing follows the style of life of the viewer and is relatively insensitive to programming. The audience is always the group available at a certain time of the day, the week, and the season, regardless of the programs. Most viewers watch by the clock· and either do not know what they will watch when they turn on the set or follow established routines rather than choose each program as they would choose a book, a movie, or an article."

This statement suggests that, the magic box , TV monopolizes others forms of media and it is considered as powerful medium used by professional communicators for learning and persuasion away from deliberation and comprehension .To put it differently, people can easily be convinced and perceive the world as what is depicted through television. For that purpose, TV ads are the most influential tools used in the world of advertising. Their effect is more enduring than any other form of mass media.

0.2. The Objective of the study:

The current study will explore the various ways in which Moroccan women characters are portrayed in Moroccan TV ads. My ultimate goal is to find out whether the portrayals of women characters are fair and accurate representations, or does it represents a fake reality by portraying women in stereotypical manner so as to maintain a particular social order which favor men over women in order to preserve customs and tradition . The portrayal of women in Moroccan TV ads will elucidate on the effect of television on viewers, more specially the influence of TV ads on the people's attitudes and perception towards gender role.

My objective is to investigate the reasons why Moroccan TV ads, despite the increasing development of mass media, television, internet and digital evolution; still portray women in traditional way .

0.3. Rational of the study

The portrayal of women in TV ads is an important topic to consider because of the unequal representation that women receive from Moroccan media. Television does not portray how women are capable of reconciling different functions of their professional, private and personal lives. In other words, Television does not alter the image of men, and continues to promote male dominance. Hence forth, the image of Moroccan women is misrepresented, manipulated and it does not mirror the reality.

In the Moroccan context , during my reviewing of the literature I did not come across many scholarly articles or books that are dealing with the issue of representation of women in Moroccan TV ads, few literature which have tackled before the issue of the portrayal of women in Moroccan TV ads . Moroccan women are often unnoticed by our local media. In others words, Moroccan women are not given the appropriate attention that they deserve in reality. For this reason, it is important for us as future researchers to evaluate the state of women as depicted by and portrayed in TV ads . TV ads were singled out due to their pervasive nature. "Television advertising is basically characterized by the ability of the medium to transmit content to a mass audience simultaneously" (Wilmshurst 1985, McNair 2005, Brierley 2002 McNair 2005, Barker and Angelopulo 2006)..

Hence, the Rational of this study is to rectify the image of Moroccan women by raising awareness on the benefits of gender equality so as to mirror the real reality . We should not take things for granted. We should go beyond to what is represented to us and we cannot achieve this stage if we are only passive receivers.

0.4. Research questions

RQ 1: To what extent may the portrayal of women have negative/ Positive effect on our perceptions as society towards gender roles?

RQ 2: To what extent do ads contribute in the reproduction of a patriarchal society?

RQ 3: How does 2M portray Moroccan women in TV ads?

RQ 4: To what extent the representation of women in TV ads is real?

0.5. Research hypotheses

RH1: The misrepresentation of women has negative effect on our perception of society towards gender roles.

RH2: Moroccan TV ads contribute in the reproduction of a patriarchal society.

RH3: Moroccan women are portrayed in stereotypical manner in 2M TV ads.

RH 4: what is portrayed about Moroccan women in TV ads is farther from reality.

0.6. Methodology

This research will use a questionnaire to examine the findings. For the first part of this study, a questionnaire will be created and administered to sample of female and male Master students in addition to primary school teachers. The participants will answer basic questions. The results of the questionnaire will be tabulated and examined for trends.

. The organization of the work

The study consists of three chapters besides a general introduction and a general conclusion. The first chapter will provide a Review of literature. While the second chapter will be concerned with the methodology. That will contain the research hypotheses, the population sample, in addition to the questionnaire .The last chapter will analyze the data collected.

0.8. Conclusion

In this chapter, I introduced a general overview about my research topic that is "The portrayal of women in TV ads". I explained and illustrate my objectives. As well, I explained my motivation through the Rational of the study. In addition, I state my research questions and research hypotheses. I divided my work into three important sections: review of literature, methodology, and data analysis.

The following chapter will provide review of literature relevant to the portrayal of women in TV ads.

1. Review of Literature

1.0 Introduction:

This chapter is made up of three sections; the first section deals with the definition of the major key words in the research paper, namely; 'advertising' and 'Cultivation theory'. The second section is devoted to the major techniques of TV ads, in addition to critical overview of TV ads. While the third section, illustrates the major factors that contribute in the portrayal of women in stereotypical manner.

1.1 Brief overview of cultivation theory

Cultivation theory is an approach developed by Professor George Gerbner in 1979. The theory is basically concerned with the influence that television may create on viewers in terms of changing their ideas and perceptions towards the world. According to Gerbner, one of the most common findings from media and cultivation studies is that increased television viewing is associated with more stereotypical views, especially of gender (Allan & Scott, 1996). In others words, people tend to perceive the world in relation to what is frequently depicted through television.

This theory also suggests that repetitive exposure to television can influence people's attitudes towards social reality including people, objects as well as their environment . Influence according to Cultivation theorists "may have long term effects which are small, gradual, indirect but cumulative and significant". Daniel Chandler

I have chosen this theory due to its importance in examining the effect that advertisement can have on viewers' perception portrayal of women in Moroccan TV ads. Cultivation theory emphasizes the effect of television viewing on the attitudes of people rather than on their behaviors. Hence, the focus in the present paper is to examine how real the representation of women on TV ads are and how it can affect the attitudes and beliefs of viewers because much of what any given audience knows is based on media and more specifically on ads .

Gerbner (ibid.) states that mass media cultivates attitudes and values which are already present in a culture: media maintains and propagates these values amongst members of a culture, thus binding them together. To illustrate more, the attitudes that are presented in media, such as TV advertising, already exist in our society. The advertisers tend to reinforce these attitudes through repetitive exposure of women as housekeepers, dumb individuals, or sex objects . This image of women as second sex is already present in our society. Moroccan society strongly believes in the system of patriarchy and the segregation between men's sphere and female's sphere, and what those advertisers are actually doing is that they are trying to please their audience. This is one of the techniques that advertisers use in advertising because the prototype that men are usually looking for in Moroccan society is the 'good wife'. Culturally speaking, the characteristic of a good wife is to be a good housewife in terms of cleaning, washing, cooking, taking care of her kids, being good mother in addition to being very attractive and beautiful and that is why women are usually portrayed in cleaning ads or cosmetics.

Cultivation theory is regarded as one of the best theories to be applied in media research. It has been considered an effective tool for those looking for the necessary theoretical framework to position their studies and link media content to its effect on society. However, Cultivation theory received criticism from many scholars and theorists; one of the weaknesses of cultivation theory is that, some scholars argue that Cultivation research focuses more on the effects rather than on who or what is being influenced. "Gerbner has been criticized for over-simplification. Denis McQuail argues that 'it is almost impossible to deal convincingly with the complexity of posited relationships between symbolic structures, audience behaviour and audience views, given the many intervening and powerful social background factors' (in Boyd-Barrett & Braham 1987, pp. 99-100). Our attitudes are likely to be influenced not only by TV, but by other media, by direct experience, by other people, and so on." Daniel Chandler

Likewise, Jennings Bryant (1986 , p . 231-335) confirms that "[…] the research to date has more to do with the 'whys' and 'hows' of a theory as opposed to gathering normative data as to the 'whats', 'whos', and 'wheres'". While Chandler suggests"Cultivation theory focuses on the amount of television viewing or 'exposure' and does not allow for differences in the ways in which viewers interpret television realities. "Any theory has double sword edge, the limitation of this theory is its emphasis on the effect that television create on viewers more than the outcomes of this effect .

From these definitions it can be deduced that, advertising is not merely a simple act of informing consumers about the lasted goods, or convincing them to buy a specific product. In other words, Advertising is not limited to conveying messages to consumers, but it implicates the transition of unhidden ideologies rather than an innocent process of selling and buying .

In addition to what have been stated above, Cultivation theory has also received criticism for ignoring other issues such as the perceived realism of the televised content, which could be essential in explaining people's understanding of reality.

1.2 Defining key terms

1.1.2 Definition of advertising

According to Angela Goddard (1982, p 9) the term advertisement and advertising have, at their root, a latin word, "advertere" , meaning turn towards '. She goes on and defines the word advertising by stating that it is a discourse which contributes to the construction of our identities; it is also an act of communication.

Advertising is often an index of attitudes because, in order for an advert to work, it must tap into some thinking "out there" in the marketplace, but it would be a mistake to think that adverts are a simple reflection of who we all are , in some natural way . Advertising, as a very public form of discourse, is also part of the way we construct our ideas about he world around us: what people are like, who does what, who is important and why, what we should be worried about, and so on (Angela Goddard, 1982. p 65)

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While Diane Barthel (1988, p. 1) defines Advertising by stating that, "Advertising is about appearances ". "It is also about information, but what interests us, what excites us in and about advertising is how objects, or products, become ideas, how they become gifted with appearances. This does not happen through magic". She further notes and states that "Advertising is also about gender. Gender is part of its social structure and its

psychology. Gender conditions our responses to what we see and helps us decide what to buy". (Diane Barthel, 1988 p. 6).

Judith Williamson (1978, p. 11) defines Advertisements as one of the most important cultural factors moulding and reflecting our life today. They are ubiquitous, an investable part of everyone's lives: even if you do not read a newspaper or watch television, the images posted over our urban surroundings are inescapable".

According to Harris and Seldon (cf. 1962:40) "advertising is defined as a public notice that is designed to spread information with a view to promoting the sales of marketable goods and services". From this perspective, advertising exists "to help to sell things" (White, 2000: 5), which is limited to giving utilitarian information about the product with the objective of informing the consumer about the necessity and the importance of the commodity advertised."

Advertising reflects our perception of the world, it may change our attitudes and beliefs and this is due to its wide spread. TV ads are more reaching than any other form of mass media. When it comes to our Moroccan context, where almost less than half of the population is illiterate and where very few are addicted to reading. TV ads as an instance are considered an effective tool for non readers. TV ads make it easy for them to know about the most recent products in the market in a briskly manner.

2M Channel:

2M TV is a Moroccan television service. That belongs to the Moroccan state before it was private channel owned by ONA the largest Moroccan economic conglomerate. 2M TV is based in Casablanca the industrial capital of Moroccan kingdom. 2M was launched as the second national television channel with the objective of promoting competition and diversity in Moroccan audio-visual broadcasting.

RTM: Is the first Moroccan channel , supervisor by the Ministry of Information and Communication of Morocco and other private sectors . RTM is owned by the Moroccan state .

In our daily life and household chores, we are bombarded with silly, nonsense TV ads that are broadcast nonstop on Moroccan channels, such as the ones that are broadcasted on 2M as well as on RTM. However, 2M channel is said to have more viewers than RTM. Consequently, the impact of TV ads on viewers will be more powerful and enduring. The work of our local TV ads consists of exploiting the people's mind through the representation of silly ads in which women are negatively portrayed.

My ultimate goal here is to make people aware of the misrepresentations of women. Morocco has undergone many changes, normally these misrepresentations in media and more specifically on TV ads should be trespassed. We are living in a new era, in which women take part, side by side, with men in every domaine; they are doctors, politicians, nurses, professors, religious leaders, consolers, a chairwomen. Astonishly, women are still represented in Moroccan media, and in particular on TV ads as traditional, unintelligent beings.

As stated earlier, the discourse of advertising is not an innocent discourse which is directed to the audience for the purpose of selling a product, but it does implicates many ideologies. Very often, these ideologies are hidden, unnoticed by the audience.

1.3 Critical overview of TV ads

Nowadays media has shaped people's mind and reshaped their attitudes and beliefs as well. Thus, we become under the control of media. In this respect, it is worthwhile to mention the Gramsci's theory in media hegemony. Gramsci believed that media have a key role in teaching people what and how to do things in their everyday lives and this would backup the power structures. Those power structures are behind the scene; they are the ones who control everything and dictate what should be broadcasted on TV as an example and what should be deleted. Very often, power structures are people who have power over others in society. Such as, the high class who might be said to have hegemony over the poor since they have the ability to use their wealth to influence many aspects of society and government. This is what actually is going on in Morocco; those who own money, own the means of production. As Bignell (2002:37) explains, "what ads are really doing is serving the interests of those who own and control the industries of consumer culture".

My choice behind the use of TV ads instead of choosing TV programs is that television advertising is basically characterized by its ability to convey the content to a mass audience simultaneously. In fact, watching TV advertising has become an indispensable part of our life. TV ads are more effective in terms of their influence on the viewers. According to Michael L.Geis (1982, p. 2) "Television seems to be regarded primarily as a visual, rather than oral, communication medium. We speak of watching' television' but of listening to radio, and we speak of those watching television as "viewers "and those who listen to radio as "listeners". He further notes that:

"There can be no doubt that television advertising imposes a much greater perceptual and cognitive burden on consumers than does advertising in other media. " Television commercials occur in real time and use both visual and auditory communications channels". ( Micheal L.Geis 1982, p . 3 ) .

So, as it was stated above, the power of TV advertising stems from the fact that TV advertising combines what is visual and what is audio, that is why the effectiveness of TV advertising is more powerful than any other form of mass media. TV ads are one of the major influences in our daily lives as they take part in framing our perception of the world. TV ads are able to reach every single house and took the leadership in guiding people's lifestyle, choices and tastes. Furthermore, "Gerbner asserts that television's major cultural function is to stabilize social patterns and to cultivate resistance to change. We live in terms of the stories we tell and television tells these stories through news, drama, and advertising to almost everybody most of the time"

In our Moroccan context television remains the main means for advertisement in Morocco. According to a recent survey by the BMCE bank TV ads gulps own 50 to 55 percent of the market share, advertisers turn mostly towards television, which stands far ahead of other advertisement means. Furthermore, "Regionally, the study found that Morocco grabs 72 % of the TV advertisement market in northern Africa - generating a total of 825 million Dirhams /75 million euros-, far ahead of Algeria (16 %) and Tunisia (12% ).  "TV viewers are far more numerous than newspaper readers, experts say;

"Advertisers opt for television to touch a wider range of clients," A.R. says. However, other advertisement means are gaining ground, he oints out. Most important of which s outdoor advertisement, a fast-growing segment that has a shining future ahead. It is believed to cover 17 % of the market share, behind the written press with 25% of the market, and 8 % for radio."

1.4 Techniques of TV ads

"Advertising is the witchcraft of the twentieth century. It has its incantations, it's how to recipes, its priests and priestesses, its temple whores and secret languages". Diane Barthel (1988, p.18)

In our daily lives we are overwhelmed with TV ads; to the extent our sense of dependency upon TV ads has been developed. TV ads become one of the major sources of information concerning products. For a TV ad to be successful, and to attain or reach its targets, advertisers opt for the use of certain techniques and tactics so that they will be able to persuade their audiences in an effective manner. Generally speaking, TV ads as mentioned before combine what is audio and what is visual, which make their effect more enduring. Likewise, the use of visual in addition to audio in TV ads activates the purchasing behavior and satisfies the audience desires.

1.1.4 The use of celebrities In TV ads:

According to Diane Barthel (1988, p 49-50) "Use of celebrities is a standard advertising techniques, and one growing in popularity. The celebrities do hold the consumers attention and sell the product. In TV advertising, advertisers use celebrities as a technique in order to seduce the audience attention; they may use actors, singers, and sports people to transmit all the goods of celebrities to the products.

1.1.5 The use of humor:

In addition to the use of celebrities, advertisers use humor in order to entertain their audience. Humor is an essential component of a successful TV ad; the entertaining feature is required in today's advertising. In psychology, humor is regarded as a cure for anxiety as well as stress. So, humor is considered as cure for audience, but only for naïve audiences. Hence, the main purpose behind the use of advertising is to make people believe that what is advertised is free from bad intention (ideologies) or any interests.

1.1.6 The use of language on TV advertising:

As Micheal L.Geis ( 1982, p . 23) has stated :

"Language can and does play an important role in the process of commercial persuasion. It is the primary vehicle for the presenting messages to consumers; it is one of the tools advertisers use to get viewers attention ".

This statement suggests that, language as a technique used by the adman play a major role in the persuasion process. It is regarded as vital instrument which contribute to the éclat or fame of TV ads. When the ad man is trying to convince the viewers to buy a certain product he or she must use their local language, the language they use everyday.

1.1.7 The use of narrativity:

Besides the use of language, we have another technique which is the use of narrativity on TV ads. Too often , TV ads use short or sketchy stories or as Cook Guy states p 47) , "mini-dramas which compress a large number of narrative events into a very short space of time through the Highly stylized gestures and facial expression of extremely skilful actors". In other words, TV advertisers make use of narrative stories, for the purpose to make the ad looks real to the audience. They use superstars as mentioned before so as to give certain credibility to their products. Henceforth, those ads gain the admiration of the audience in addition to their sympathy to purchase their products.

1.1.8 The use of persuasion in TV ads:

Another common technique in TV advertising is persuasion; to inform the consumer about the product and to persuade him or her to buy their products that will be accomplished through creating a meaning of it. This meaning is created either via images, symbols or verbal language. Besides, advertising is not about information, but also 'appearances'; "advertising is not just about the objects´ appearance but about personal appearances: how we look at others, how we think of ourselves" (Barthel, 1988: 1). Within the process of information, we find persuasion as well which is considered as powerful, manipulative tool that is used by advertisers. According to Micheal L. Geis (1982,p 20)

"The information processing model of persuasion views persuasion as a process in which a source presents a message to a receiver via some communication channel in an attempt to effect either of two behavioral changes : for the receiver to believe that the message is true , or for the receiver to act upon that message" . What we can deduce from this quote by L. Geis is that the main goal of the ad man is not only to make the audience remember the name of the product, but also to act upon the message that they receive.

Additionally, advertising's central function is to create desires - to bring into being wants that previously did not exist (Galbraith, 1971: 149 / Fowles , 1996: 61)". The advertising agencies accomplish their targets through the creation of a world of desires in order to satisfy the consumers. They employ psychologists and sociologists to determine "which values and images are most likely to appeal to the audience" (Lund,1947: 73 Vestergaard ;Schroder, 1985: 49) so as to be able to understand the consumers´ state of mind. As result, they will get into people's mind and easily manipulate them.

1.5 Patriarchy and gender roles on TV advertising:

"Portrayal of 'gendered' relationships is common in advertisements. Since women's positions and roles are devalued in patriarchal cultures, advertising maintains the status quo in gender relations by reinforcing the sexual division of labour while resisting and subverting any radical change on the part of women." Meenu Anand".

In Morocco, patriarchy is deeply rooted in our culture since we belong to an Arabic Muslim culture which is conservative. Until a couple of decades ago, public space had been occupied by male, while women's presence outside the house had to be safeguard. In others words, women's sphere was totally separated from man's sphere'. The family is traditionally controlled by the father whose decisions are unquestionable and in the case of his absence, the elder son is there to take over his place. While women are dependent on men and they are not supposed to seek autonomy and claim responsibility. So, the patriarchal system becomes the main operating power in society and culture. It is a tool that places gendered expectations on both sexes. However, in today's Morocco things have changed , tough the patriarchal system is still there , Moroccan society due to many changes that has occurred recently the notion of gender role have been redefined .

Nowadays, women rub shoulders with men in many domains that have been dominated by men in the past time. Moroccan women become active members in society; they have gained ground not only in the work but also in the society. Women become financially independent, in addition to being equal in terms of many rights & duties. Now, we can find women's sitting in restaurant, while other women are smoking in the cafes wearing modern clothes either miniskirts, jeans and dressing in fashionable manner. These changes that are mentioned above are signs which indicate that women situation has changed in today's Morocco. Thus, there is a break away from male domination and social chains. Now, women are able to define their social role and dictate their rule.

Despite all these changes, yet what our Moroccan TV ads communicate to the masses messages that still represent the old version of Moroccan women, and here we refer to the traditional woman whose main job is to serve her husband and to devote all her life to her children. The prototype that is represented in our Moroccan TV ads is far from what is really going in Morocco. In a recent study by Al Magharebia newspaper, a Moroccan journalist named Siham ALI in her article titled "Moroccan media distorts women's image", study says : "

"Overall, Moroccan females believe that their image is so misrepresented and manipulated that it does not mirror the reality of Moroccan women, the survey said. Siham Ali goes on and states: "Advertising and drama are the farthest from reality in terms of perception of everyday women's lives, said women whose opinions were recorded in the final report released on June 30th." "Moroccan media distorts women's image".

"According to survey participants, advertising focused more on household chores and presented women as traditional, unskilled and submissive to men. In drama, women felt they were portrayed as more manipulative, promiscuous and dumb". By Siham Ali , El Magharebia newspaper 06/07/2010.

According to this study, media in general and advertising in specific do not mirror the reality of Moroccan women. What it portrayed to us as viewers is only a partial image of Moroccan women . Our TV ads do not show how women are able to perform various functions of their professional, personal and private lives. I personally have never seen a Moroccan TV ad in which the husband is helping his wife in the kitchen or taking care of his kids. Normally, television should rectify the women's image , reflect the social developments of women , pres


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