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Numer: 15512
Dział: Języki obce

Stereotypes of men and women presented in commercials

Joanna Jacyno-Bertman


The commercial specialists state that the easiest way of gaining the customer is referring to the stereotypes, which determine social hierarchy. These stereotypes are reflected in everyday life, for example they are visible in division of the housework and in ritualised forms of the social life. This is the reason why women are usually presented in commercials as housewives or the sexual objects. The image of the women is used in commercials three times more that the men’s one. What is more women are usually presented in very stereotypical roles. As a result, commercials strengthen old-fashioned, cultural stereotypes and contribute to the development of new ones.
Commercials can be divided into two groups:
• Classical- they are connected with the tradition and stereotypes based on it
• Modern- they use trends and symbols that are currently popular
Both types of commercials are reflected in Polish society. On the one hand there is a traditional family: the man, who is the head of the family and the wife whose primary obligation is to keep house. On the other hand, however, we can see completely different reality, in which the majority of women are focused on their professional careers. The majority of the commercials recipients are aware of this social changes and consider them as annoying or boring. The most criticised commercials were those concerning washing powders, margarines or sanitary towels- the ones that present women in very traditional roles.

Currently, we can observe a new phenomenon in commercials, which started to use the men’s image more frequently. They are usually handsome, strong and well-built, sometimes they are even bare. Men started to promote the products that are associated with women, like washing powders or dishwashing liquids. It is proved that women prefer watching commercials with men. It brings them the feeling of emancipation and strength. This trend of using men’s figures in promoting products has appeared also in Poland. Let me now present the most popular kinds of commercials that illustrate the stereotypical depiction of men:

The specialists of this area usually use the motif, which has a great power of persuasion – the picture of a beautiful woman at the side of well-built man. Usually we can observe a very happy couple that is nestling up against each other. This picture is used to convince the customer that this is the effect of using the promoted product.
Another context that appear in commercials is sexuality. The good examples of using this motif are: EXTASE Pure Passion, ALCHIMIE de Rochas, Calvin Klein.

The first picture shows the necked man holding the perfect woman in his arms. Almost everyone would like to be in his place, because this commercial evokes the most basic human need (sexual satisfaction). To achieve it the customer is prone to purchase this product. On the other hand, female customers would also like to have such an ideal man at her side. The only solution for this is to buy the product for their less perfect partner in order to improve them. The truth is that commercials promote illusion of happiness. They present perfect world with perfect people and cause that people crave for such perfection.
This type of commercials use the motif of men’s friendship and need of belonging to the group. In this case we usually can observe pictures of men sitting in a pub, drinking beer and watching a match with friends or doing some activities typical for men.
One of the best examples of cigarettes’ commercial can be the series of Marlboro advertisements.

These commercials present the cowboy living far from the people in his perfect place and surrounding. His only company are horses and the group of male friends. These series show the place in which men can be himself and can behave freely(women are absent there).
Another examples of ads that refer to the typical male activities are: SALEM and MILD SEVEN cigarettes.

Both advertisements present men doing sports like cycling, white-water canoeing. Characters of such commercials are always athletic, strong and brave.
Another stereotypical vision of the men is shown in beers’ commercials. They reveal the true male friendship that is strong that the one between women. Men always leave women at home and come to pubs surrounded by mates. Who would choose the company of grumpy women if there is a perspective of spending time with cheerful friends and drinking chilled beer?
It is possible to conclude that male commercials show the world that can be truly understand only by men. They try to persuade them that being a man means smoking cigarettes and drinking beer.


This branch of advertising in many cases create completely different picture of the men. Instead of the strong characters we can frequently observe inept men , very often dependent on women. One of the best example is Malma commercial. The spot shows seemingly strong, young man that is in the shop and tries to buy a pasta. Unfortunately his not able to do this, because there is to many kinds of this product. The man asks the strange women for help. Consequently, he gets two benefits: he makes a new acquaintance and he buys an appropriate product.
Another good instance is Snickers commercial.

It shows the young man who lose his strength during the rugby match. His palls start to make fun of him and then his girlfriend gives him snickers, which magically restores his strength.


In case of woman’s stereotypes in commercials the most difficult to overcome seem to be the stereotype of a mother and home protectress

In a role of a mother both in life and in advertisements we can observe women. In Polish advertisements especially the sentimental attitude towards motherhood can be noticed. Even in the advertisement of sweets the mother is the one who loves her children the most and that is the case why she is obliged to buy her offspring the product. The commercials starring women emphasize her duties such as feeding and looking after children. Usually she reacts for the hunger of the family or unhappiness of children.

The traditional and moreover still current division of roles in the family can be especially seen in those advertisements presenting the process of preparing and serving food. It is clearly shown that the duty of a mother is constant devotion for the family. In the Tang drink the children ask – where do you get it from?- the answer is- from the mummy. If there is the new kind of Danone product the son is curious – whether Mama knows about that?-. It is a frequent issue that a lady buying something for the husband treats him like a child saying- It is for my hubby.

The stereotype of a lady who treats her husband like a child is especially appreciated in the detergent advertisements, the example being that of a Bryza one where we can see two rascals- a father and a son in the dirty clothes. The question arise- who is going to wash them? In the ad we can hear a merry song, sung by a man , about a normal thing that children means dirty stains, but now you have got Bryza detergent. And the viewer already knows that the washing is for the mother, the woman whose duty is to wash. Bosh Company suggest that you should be the happiest bride if your kitchen is well equipped. It is an obvious case of stereotype.

The body of a man is not judged as severely as that of a woman. It is often said that there is aesthetic discrimination and feminization of women’s body. Practically never men’s appearance, wrinkles or excessive kilograms are in the centre of attention. The culturally conditioned pressure of being beautiful seem not to apply to men. The women’s body is often used in advertisements aimed for both ladies and men. The lady is treated objectively in case of those ads in which man wants to prove or confirm masculinity. The model effigy of a women are mothers, wives, objects of desire. That is why ladies are often seen in advertisements of cars.

Frequently a women appears only to disappear later because she lost rivalry with a chocolate bar, drink or beer being tasted by a man.

In the commercials aimed to men, women are often presented as the ones who are sexually unfulfilled , the slogan of Renault or soft drink – the size is important- is an obvious case of that.

Every now and again there are advertisements in which men are shown doing the housework and women presenting cars, mobile phones or financial matters. There seem to be the start for the new non-stereotype era of advertisement. There starts to be noticed the division into the housewives and modern businesswomen, even ladies as experts in certain realms.
Something that is especially concerning is the fact that image of a woman in the advertisements include contradiction. There is implied the necessity of realizing the inconsistent roles by women. It is the advertisement which convince all the ladies that each of those images are crucial and should constitute a part of women’s identity. There are certainly the dangerous consequences derived from that, leading to stress and even disorders or problems with identity .


Taking all these points into consideration we can conclude that commercials are full of stereotypes considering both men and women. Some of them seem funny whereas others may be treated even as insulting, especially those that use human sexuality. In spite of using already existing stereotypes commercial specialists very often create new ones, which are absorbed by society easily.


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1. www.aspera.com.pl
2. www.demoskop.pl
3. www.marketing-news.pl
4. www.tutej.pl

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