Thursday, January 24, 2008

Cars and Women

In a previous post Brian and I discussed this idea of product placement and how advertisements can be somewhat invasive. With this aside we would like to discuss the images we do see and how we perceive them. As much as I would like to think that advertisements don’t have an effect on me I can’t ignore the evidence and I can see that they do. Companies know that these advertisements in one way or another affect the people who are seeing them. Are companies being careful with how they portray people who are seen in these ads? In a class that Brian and I had taken together we were asked this very question. We were shown how in most advertisements the white women were always shown as smiling and happy, not only is she smiling but she was also the center shot. I believe the ad was for the store Fifth Avenue, but that was the gist of it, white women, in the center, smiling and happy. For those of you who are reading don’t worry I’m not going to turn this into a “black versus white” topic but I do want to point out some of the claims and if I personally believe them to hold any truth.

In this class that Brian and I took one of our assignments was to look through magazine ads and see if we found any trend. Some of the trends that I did find were interesting. For example I found that a lot of ads that were geared toward men use sexy women to sell the ads. I’m sure that this comes to no surprise to most but I think this is relevant. One ad in particular that I showed was this ad to the left. As we can see the product is “The Car MD,” we can see that the main focus isn’t even the product but is the sexy women with no pants on. The Car MD is actually at the bottom of the ad, so the first thing that a person will look at is the woman and then the product. Are men so gullible? Are the ad companies trying to deceive us by taking advantage of our weakness for the opposite sex? I think that they are. Even when I was looking through magazines this ad automatically popped out to me and probably would have under normal circumstances. This is just one of the many ads that depict women as objects of desire as a means to sell another product.

People aren’t dumb either. We all know that this is what the companies are trying to do but we allow this to happen. Why do we allow this to happen? I think the reason is that we, like myself, would like to think that we make up our own minds and that ads have no bearing on us. While for the most part I think that is true I also think something else is happening. We see these images of women in ads and it does have an affect on us if we want to accept it or not. For the women who see this they might hold such images as an ideal for what constitutes what “sexy” is. After all if this woman can be in an ad then she must be beautiful right? For the men who look at this ad I think that this particular ad sends two messages to us. The first message being that like cars women are something to be “had.” It’s almost like they are trying to sell us a three step process, the first step is buy a mustang, second step is get the Car MD, and finally the women will come to you.

The other message that an ad of this nature sends to men is that it somewhat mocks women in a professional position. I wonder how many men after seeing this ad hold all female doctors to this standard. The point that I am trying to make is that whether we want it to or not these images hold some weight in the real world. The images we see we do bring them with us and use them in the real world. Whether or not the images make us buy the product is another story but we do interpret the pictures even if it is on a subconscious level. In turn it is up to the companies to be responsible for the content that they put out there.

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