Advertising Campaigns That Perpetuate Sex Role

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What are some contemporary advertising campaigns that perpetuate sex role stereotypes or sexual orientation stereotypes or racial stereotypes?

What are some contemporary advertising campaigns that perpetuate sex role stereotypes or sexual orientation stereotypes or racial stereotypes?


Linking marketing communication to ontological dilemmas in visual representation enables researchers to recognize a global communication system in which images provide resources for, and, hence, shape, our understandings of the world, including the identities of its people and places. Visual images constitute much corporate communication about products and services, economic performance, and organizational identity. Moreover, pictures of people - models, celebrity endorsers, spokespersons, “average” consumers, managers and employees - make up a large part of marketing imagery. Serving as stimuli, signs, or representations that drive cognition, interpretation, and preference, images influence what we know and believe (Ang, 2000; McQuarrie and Mick, 1999; Zaltman, 2002).

A focus on image - over and above function - challenges basic notions of marketing practice, shifts appropriate topics of analysis, and reinforces the visual domain's centrality. If marketing communications depend upon images, including brand images, corporate images, product images, and images of identity, then an ethics of representation for international marketing communication must be capable of addressing the concerns that such images evoke. Nevertheless, discussions of marketing ethics rarely include visual issues, apart from largely atheoretical concerns over shock advertising, sexual appeals, or stereotyping; rather, discussions typically revolve around deception, the questionable accuracy of product claims, and the targeting of vulnerable consumers, such as children (Smith and Quelch, 1993). Furthermore, as recent research reports, advertising practitioners remain “morally myopic” - acknowledging few ethical concerns in their own work (Drumwright and Murphy, 2004). In this paper, we investigate marketing communication's role in “the taken-for-granted political and ethical practices of envisioning others” (Heywood and Sandywell, 1999, p. x). Our contribution includes an ethical analysis of concerns arising from - not necessarily intentional - representational conventions found in marketing communications. We acknowledge that marketing communication is but one component of the visual realm, however, we point to its role in supporting wider cultural forms of representation.

Approaches to marketing ethics generally adopt an information-based model of marketing communication as persuasion, emphasizing marketing's role as a strategic conduit of information for consumers, rather than fully acknowledging how marketing also acts as a representational system that produces meaning outside the realm of the promoted product or service (Scott and Batra, 2003). This troubling lacuna emerges in part because of a failure to confront the ethical concerns that arise in the wake of the prominence of the image - including advertising images, corporate images, and images of identity - within today's image economy. To highlight reflection on the role of images in marketing communications, we move away from the advertising as persuasion model (Friestad and Wright, 1994; Vakratsas and Ambler, 1999), to place advertising and other forms of marketing communication within a broader cultural context. We demonstrate mobilization of analytic frameworks for the investigation of marketing communication ethics based on conceptual ...
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