The Influences of Women to Men in Advertising essay

The Influences of Women to Men in Advertising essay

Advertising today is one of the essential phenomena of the modern life, and on the background it often identifies the social roles to be performed by men and women. Advertising images are very simplified, but it is in this way they affect people causing them not only to buy the goods, but also to transfer the styles of gender and role behavior represented advertising in real life.

Gender symbolism of advertising today is the way the subconscious influence on people as members of society and creates modern relationships contributing to their stereotyping. While the use of female images in advertising for men is now common practice of advertisers, the advertising dictates the modern man what women should be like, as they should be treated, how to be successful with women, how the power should be distributed between the genders in society, and more. Meanwhile, the image of women in the media is distorted in order to influence the basic instincts of men.

Thus, when women appear in advertising, the authors rarely present them in the roles of powerful figures, intellectuals and adventure lovers. Instead, the female characters are usually attractive, but simple-minded girls who depend on the leading role of men all important issues. The image of women in advertising is increasingly becoming only a symbol, an expression of social status, power and personality of men.

Further in this paper, we will focus on the variety of images and techniques featuring women applied in advertising targeting male audience, discuss the specificities of their impact on male perception on advertized products or services, as well as attempt to apply these knowledge to the event industry advertising and formulate recommendations for increasing the effectiveness of advertising using female images under contemporary conditions.

Typical female images in advertising targeting male audience


According to the average parameters, women in advertising are typically aged 25-35 years, thus, being a little bit younger than men (Baker, 2005, p. 15). However, in contrast to men, who go to bars and a football matches, young girls have much less fun. Basically, a woman is taking care of her look: various cosmetics, hair care, skin care for the face and legs, and sometimes is taking care of her health because women have some strange problems which can be solved by certain medicines. Another part of a woman’s advertising life is devoted to the household: she irons clothes, cooks, does the shopping. The woman also has a job, her occupation is usually not quite clear but it is obviously some office job; however, one cannot say that she loves her job: she is either very tired, or is always late (Nigam, & Jha, 2007, p. 34-47; Jay, 2011, p. 78-84).

Conditionally all women in advertising can be divided into two groups:

  1. An ordinary woman, who both works and runs the household, if there is a husband, she surely cooks for him, and brings up children, mostly girls.
  2. A seductress woman. Most often she appears on the screen alone, engaged only in herself, her appearance, but at the same time she is trying to emphasize her appeal as much as possible, shows herself from all sides, that is, she is portrayed as a sex object.

Thus, if one believes the advertising, the woman main job is to clean, wash, cook, change diapers to babies, and of course take care of herself – get rid of wrinkles, bad odors, dandruff, and so on. In general, women should do everything to make men feel comfortable. Heroines with stuck smiles and empty stares talking about the “secrets of family happiness” are not just a stereotype, but the embodiment of patriarchal despotism (Gill, 2007; Lazar, 2006).

In general, the physical weakness of women is often emphasized in advertising. However, recently, strong and aggressive women have appeared in it. Recently, advertisement has started using the image of a “modern woman”, which is in step with the times, enjoys the achievements of progress, and thus discovered a new deep fryer, anti-aging cream, and so on, but is still doing this to please or be admired by men (Gill, 2009, p. 145-47).

The stereotype of a narrow-minded woman is used quite frequently met in advertising, but in addition to the imposition of a social role, advertising also imposes standards of woman beauty appraised by men, and men are shown a supposedly ideal woman, who they deserve (Tungate, 2008, p. 61; Mullany, 2004, p. 294). Diet, fitness, and constant hunger – these are the constant satellites of a modern woman who seeks to have an ideal shape, however, only 5% of women are genetically predisposed to this ideal shape (height, genetic leanness, broad shoulders, narrow hips, long legs and small breasts (Lavine et al., 1999, p. 1052-53). For comparison, in 1950, White Rock mineral water advertising campaign used photos of a girl who weighed 63 kg and was 165 cm tall; now the average height of a model is 175 cm, and the “normal” weight is 50 kg (Furnham & Paltzer, 2010, p. 229). Moreover, the image imposed by the media is not just a skinny woman; it is a young skinny woman. The ads very rarely use the image of women over 35 if it is not an advertisement of creams against wrinkles, or other products aimed at women in this age group (Cortese, 2007, p. 213).

Advertising aimed at a male recipient offers a variety of mental images, as well as different gender roles. These can be images of a gentle, dreamy girl or a bright, carefree, and joyful one, or strict, independent, strong and purposeful woman. This may be a young mother, caring wife, a businesswoman. But the main will still be the image of an attractive, carefree girl, concerned about their appearance and her popularity with men. However, in general, the most important and most common female image in an advertisement for men is the image of the sexual woman. The advertisement for the male half of humanity uses frank and straightforward images, and advertisers often associate woman’s sexuality with her weakness and the accessibility for men, rather than with her strength (Gill, 2009, Gentry & Harrison, 2010, p. 79-81; Morrison & Shaffer, 2003, p. 270). For example, many companies advertising their products use pictures of a veiled, and sometimes outright, rudeness towards women. The image of a man in such advertising is often associated with the roughness and brutality, and the very scene of violence and domination of a man is shown, as a rule, quite touching, sexy and attractive, and the woman is helpless and subservient (Lazar, 2006, p. 509-10).

Objectification of woman images in advertising is also carried out with the help of a strategically-designed positions a women body in erotic ads: most often lying on her back, or sitting, but lower than a man; gesture, posture, gaze, uncovered parts of the body – all this leaves no doubt about the nature of what is happening (Gill, 2003; Berger, 2001, p. 159-64; Nigam & Jha, 2007, p. 213-217). Erotic visualization is now characterized by the use of signs-indexes, not the whole body, but its fragments, some key areas – buttocks, breasts, legs, lips, etc., as well as the absence of the face. Deprived of a face, personality, a woman represents only a function of the body that is open to everyone (Greer, 1999, p. 175).

This visualization gives the consumer the freedom of imagination, finishing of the image, and is very effective in its impact (Jay, 2011, p. 201; Greer, 1999, p. 177). According to Sivulka (2008), advertised products thus perpetuate gender stereotypes: male dominance and female subordination.

For the eroticization of the product an appropriate setting is chosen as well, which causes the right associations. Therefore, the advertised objects are often presented in luxurious fabrics, exquisite interiors (electronics, home appliances), or against wild nature, which is especially characteristic of the industry of beauty products – cosmetics and perfumery. All this taken together creates around the object an erotic component of the communicative membrane of the advertised product (Conley & Ramsey, 2011, p. 471-75; Rosewarne, 2007, p. 56-59).

It is obvious that the key to the successful advertising influencing consumers is its tempting, seductive nature (Gobe, 2010). As Kilbourne (1999) marks, advertising not only promises pleasure in case of the acquisition of the product, but also creates the desire itself. And the first step in this direction is to create the desired object. In the men-oriented ads, it is a woman or a woman body that can not only encourage but also arouse the needs of the buyer, as a catalyst for sales of goods and services (Berger, 2001, p. 117-119; Nigam & Jha, 2007, p. 89-95).

The image of a woman used as a logo increasingly rarely has direct motivation and gradually starts to metaphorically express the idea of the proposed product as an aesthetic object (cigarettes, kitchenware, writing instruments are advertised with women images not like ordinary household objects, but as something that has relation to beauty, and thus to pleasure and enjoyment). Often, a woman in the advertisement is not a user of the advertised product, but an object circulating with it on a symbolic market of goods. In other words, she gets the features of a symbolic commodity; a woman image is stylized and gradually acquires the meaning “a woman is a commodity” (Conley & Ramsey, 2011; Furnham & Paltzer, 2010; Lazar, 2006). Despite the fact that the woman in advertisement is no longer fragile and delicate, and turns into a daring, emancipated conqueror, she is still secondary to the man and exists only as an indicator of his phallic power.

Specificities of men’s perception of advertisement containing woman images


In general, advertising theory runs that men tend to see big things, and do not notice the details (here and further basing on Berger, 2001; Tungate, 2008; Jay, 2011). Men prefer labels and everything that can make their lives easier. Men like objects related to leisure and everything that shows financial viability. Men do not care about their appearance, or just try not to show it. They have confidence in themselves and their image. Men do not want to appear weak or stuck on themselves. Therefore, they prefer simple things and small number of options (Berger, 2001; Tungate, 2008; Jay, 2011). At the same time, studies show that men are more resistant to advertising, and consider it stupid and boring (Tungate, 2008, p. 143), but, according to Wilson & Daly (2004), it is often so only until they see an attractive image. It is assumed that the use of sexual images causes vivid emotional reaction in men, as if they are dealing with real people who flirt with them. In addition, the encrypted message is conveyed to the subconsciousness: “Buy this product, and the same woman will be next to you” (Mullany, 2004; Gobe, 2010).

The strategy of desire in advertisement for men involves the use of sexual attraction in the interests of producers of goods. Erotic images resolve several problems: attract the attention of consumers, reduce critical perception, and create the appropriate emotional background around the product causing the desire (Panda, 2005; Gill, 2003). In this perspective, a woman body is a strong, powerful sign and this sign is used in an advertising context through the lens of men’s vision. Men’s resolute view projects their fantasy on the woman image, while the woman appearance is coded for strong visual and erotic impression, to be the object of scrutiny. A woman exposed a sexual object is a keynote of the erotic show. The whole context of the advertising message is eroticized, and the coding system initially assumes multiplicity of meanings, hints, innuendo, and intertextuality (Gill, 2003; Gill, 2009; Rosewarne, 2007).

It is believed that a man is biologically characterized by polygamy, which allows him to fertilize the maximum number of women with his genes. Thus, for any man a young and beautiful woman is an object of sexual desire. This means that advertising must: 1) attract the attention of a man by a sexy woman body, and 2) establish a clear association for the consumer: buy the advertised product, and you will conquer a gorgeous woman, and perhaps even several ones. The logic of advertising messages is as follows: a woman always wants a man that has this product (Mullany, 2004; Morrison & Shaffer, 2003).

Generated in the unconscious, the products of the desire are constantly coded and recoded, and advertising plays one of the main roles in this process, acting as a regulator of desire pulse flows, offering a system of values and orientations. Thus, today men are having the deformation of the image of the ideal woman, the image of a relationship one can build with a woman, distortion of the perception of family values and views on the mutual position of genders.

According to the psychologists Beetles & Harris (2005), in the last 40 years there has been an explosion of “sexualization of the visual images”, which led to a distortion of the perception of normal female sexuality. As a proof, Baker (2005) reviewed the popular magazine Rolling Stone: while in the 1960’s about 11% of the images of men and 44% of the images of women on the covers had erotic subtext, in the 2000’s 17% of men and 83% of women on the covers were presented in sexually aggressive context, and the latter issues of magazines sold out faster.

At the same time, an excessive number of images of young and sexually attractive girls have led to the fact that men are unable to perceive half-naked women on the screen or picture as a human being. The results of brain scans and psychological studies show that men’s reaction to these photographs is similar to the reaction to inanimate objects (Aharon et al., 2001, p. 545-46). So the conclusion made by researchers is obvious: men perceive provocatively sexy women either as an object of desire, or as an attribute of success (Aharon et al., 2001; Cortese, 2007; Gill, 2003; Gill, 2009; Wilson, & Daly, 2004; Dianoux & Linhart, 2010).

Moreover, after viewing explicit pictures, men look different at ordinary women as well. For example, Dianoux & Linhart (2010) have found the effect of depreciation of natural beauty compared to the magazine images. Men watching magazine beauties considered ordinary women, even their own wives, less attractive. Magazine lovers gave their wives 6 out of 10 points on a scale of attractiveness, whereas men in the control group rated their wives’ outlook by at least 8.

Psychologists attribute this to the fact that the female image for a man is strange and incomprehensible; and a man, even realizing the possibilities of Photoshop still at a subconscious level perceives the proposed glossy image without critical reflection (Sivulka, 2008, p. 132). In addition, if previously there were a few publicized images of beautiful women, now an abundance of beautiful woman faces and shapes on the Internet and in magazines is growing exponentially (comparing Plous, & Neptune, 1997 and Furnham & Paltzer, 2010). This creates a completely false impression that the world is populated by entirely perfect girls with full lips and long legs.

Along with the standards of appearance, advertising images impose rather primitive models of human behavior and interpersonal communication (Gentry & Harrison, 2010). In particular, men get the impression that superficial relationships are quite normal (Weeks, 2007; Kilbourne, 1999). But at the same time, bright sex appeal and the accompanying material values are a must. Without it a man is a loser and has no right to happiness. Such models may generate or reinforce already existing inferiority complexes (Morrison & Shaffer, 2003, p. 273). Men are set to failures in the sexual life, comparing themselves to the young and the rich good-lookers, observing the corresponding images in advertising, where next to a man there is a woman with an active lifestyle. Psychologists worry that satiety with seductive, unrealistically beautiful images has negative effect on men’s libido (Weeks, 2007). In this case a reversed effect of the forbidden fruit takes place: desire is always fueled by the lack of desired. In contrast, when everything is allowed, available and exposed on every corner, a woman body stops being cherished and desired.

Thus, the most important issue for the seller is how effectively the advertising campaign will affect the increase in sales of its goods or services. Advertisers so often resort to sexual motives, that it seems that the effectiveness of such ads is not doubted. However, the large value of sexual images for advertisement is no more than a common stereotype. Today there is no sufficient experimental base which would confirm it, and advertisers often make a big mistake by putting a sign of equality between the memorability of the advertising and memorability of the advertised goods, not to mention an increase in sales.

Indeed, psychological researches (Dianoux & Linhart, 2010; Beetles & Harris, 2005; Hogg & Garrow, 2003) confirm that the majority of consumers seeing several ads at once first draw attention to those that contain a “sexual element.” However, as a rule, women read the information in advertisements containing pictures of tempting ladies more often than men, at whom these ads are, in fact, targeted. Men usually enjoy browsing the image, but do not delve into the meaning of the advertising message. This means that in most cases such advertising misses the target, it attracts the wrong target audience. In general, experts have found that viewers of commercials with the explicit sex scenes hardly remember what kind of product was advertised in this way, and in most cases, consumers remember the ad, not the product it is designed to sell (Hogg & Garrow, 2003; Panda, 2005). In other words, the use of sexual motivation is not a positive factor to enhance the effectiveness of advertising.

Female images in event industry advertising

The image of a beautiful, glamorous woman always attracts attention and enchants men. However, studies show that women in advertisements must have a story, a meaning. Wanton exploitation of the female body is less attractive to men in advertising.

Thus, the image must first communicate the essence of advertising, which is especially important in the event industry where so often the text is important, to provide the customers with the information about the event, the exact time and date, promotion period, etc., and make them remember it. A beautiful but inappropriate picture can easily destroy the main message sent to the target audience. Creation of advertising in the event the industry requires finding a balance: men need to see in promotional materials the images of many beautiful women, but these women should help to promote the advertising instead of leading to communicative failures with the audience.

In general, creative event advertising has a rather creative target audience, which, respectively, can appreciate sexual imagery in advertising, provided that it is uttering the necessary subtlety and delicate humor of a sexual nature. And since not using sex in advertising means cutting off one of the most effective and efficient human motives, the sex theme requires great art, and it is not as easy to make it beautiful as, for example, to show a happy couple of beautiful people. In addition, studies show that men are often attracted by advertising aimed at women (Amy-Chinn, 2006, p. 160-162), so perhaps it is necessary to expand the approach to event advertising, portraying women as other women see them.


Use of sexual female images in advertising is considered an effective and a win-win way to attract attention of the male audience. In general we can say that the advertised subject is eroticized, exploiting the woman images in favor of men. Different techniques are used for this purpose: a woman in advertising is often represented as a passive object of manipulation and scrutiny. Objectification in advertising that uses erotic imagery is also manifested in the fact that advertising female characters, even dressed, look like half-naked. Speaking of women in advertising, today one can see such trends as the metamorphosis of the female body into the commodity, reducing women to the parts of their body (reductionism), image of subservient women, their weakness and helplessness against the background of undeniable attractiveness and sexuality. Using erotic imagery in advertising allows building persistent associations between the desire and the advertised subject, ultimately increasing the efficiency of the impact of advertising communication, and thereby distorting the representation of men about women, their position in society, and gender relations.

In addition, recent data indicate market satiation with images of attractive women to such an extent that men not only often do not remember the promoted product but only the video or image, but also begin to perceive women as inanimate objects. Permanent belief that the half-naked women can sell everything from toothpaste to computer parts also greatly hurts the consumers who begin to wonder about the creative value of advertising agencies that continue to rely on an outdated formula of gender stereotypes.

In general, the efficiency of use of female images in advertising has been the subject of heated debate, but recent studies suggest that now is the time for advertisers to revise their advertising in the light of the changing status of women in contemporary society. Meanwhile, not using sex in advertising at all means cutting off one of the most effective and efficient human motives. Of course, a sense of proportion and good taste is essential. Based on the foregoing, it is possible to formulate criteria for the use of sexual images of women in advertising:

– The use of sexual images of women should be appropriate;

– It is necessary to avoid vulgarity;

– The advertising image of a woman must correspond to the consumer;

– The advertising image of a woman must correspond to the subject of advertising;

– The advertising image of a woman should be visually attractive, but should not distract the viewer from remembering the product.

– The advertised product should have apparent dissonance between emotional and rational components.

– Advertising must not repeat old time boring solutions;

– Advertising must have accurate targeting and be placed in the appropriate media.