Gender Roles in Advertisements

Updated on: March 1, 2023

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Gender roles were a vital tenet, more so in the conformity era of the 1950s. For men, their roles as the breadwinners dictated their responsibility as the sole providers and heads of the household. Meanwhile, women were supposed to be stay-at-home mothers busy tending to the family’s needs and shopping, among other house chores. The ad I selected is from the same era, with its originality relying heavily on the typical American housewife mythology (Hoover Co.). Despite women comprising a significant number of the country’s workforce, advertisers perceived that the ladies’ top priority was being a homemaker.

In this advertisement, the illustration is that of a woman using a Hoover Convertible meant to efficiently ease the cleaning of floor surfaces and furniture. The image and the product’s description were in line with this era of conformity when gender roles were strictly adhered to by both sexes. The image involves a lady tidying the floor and the couch dressed in heels and a neat dress. Society expected women to stay home and keep everything tidy until the husband, the sole provider, returned from work. The female gender, once entrenched in a family system, had to live up to the standard of the society of a constant well-groomed appearance even when performing chores, as the ad illustrates (Bonger). The description emphasizes the need for a household to possess the said product as captured in the wording: “gets the deep-down dirt other cleaners to miss” (Hoover Co.). From the ad, it is clear that the messaging targets the woman in the household, further alluding to their role as a housekeeper and the husband’s trophy.

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Over time, gender roles have gotten eroded from the spectrum of advertising, with more consumers leaning towards ads that focus on ethics, the environment, health, and fitness. The advertisement I chose features Jimmy Fallon embarking on a fitness journey and keeping up with various professional athletes in different sports (VCU Brandcenter). It is a promotion video for Michelob Ultra, a light beer with fewer calories than the average alcoholic brew. It was among the commercials that aired in the Super Bowl event of 2020. Its general message adheres to today’s trend of people seeking healthier options, especially what they consume.

Some features I identified as a result of the various lectures and class readings throughout the course include the use of celebrity figures, expressing the impact on performance on the individual, and the health impact. The commercial aims to prove that consuming the product is suitable for the average person (Bates). Featuring celebrities at every turn, the product can win the hearts of many beer consumers, especially with light beers being recommended as fitness drinks (Schachter). The other two factors relate to the tangible benefits that the ad aims to present to its audience.

One of these two aspects of the positive impact of the product is the ability of Jimmy Fallon to progress at the same rate as a very fit professional athlete in extreme sporting activities. With John Cena at his side, they go through the paces in various sports, beating pro athletes and having fun during the process. This positive effect is similar to the second aspect focusing on the health impact. Alcoholic beer consumption for people hoping to remain fit is highly discouraged (Wilby and Kader). The ad provides details of how many calories consumers should expect as transparency and an informative measure. It aligns with the nuance that consumer culture today continues to seek ethical and healthier options.

Works Cited

Bonger, Kristian. “7 Things Women Were Expected to Do in the 1950’s.” Playbuzz, 2018, Web.

Hoover Co. “Ad, Appliance – Hoover Vacuum Cleaner, Hoover Co., 1959-03.” Google, Flickr, 1959, Web.

Bates, Christopher. “What is A Consumer Culture.” Consumer Culture, pp. 1-12. Lecture.

Schachter, Aaron. “Going For A Beer Run? Here’s How A Brew Fares As A Post-Exercise Recovery Drink.” NPR, 2019, Web.

VCU Brandcenter. “Michelob ULTRA: Jimmy Works It Out – 2020 Super Bowl Commercial.” YouTube, 2020, Web.

Wilby, Neola, and Lamia A. Kader. “Does Alcohol Kill Your Gains?” Intelligent Labs UK, 2020, Web.

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