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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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This project seek to examine the relationship between advertising and social values, specifically gender roles in the society. Does advertising reflects consumers' values or shapes them? “Mirror” and “Mold" effects are still debatable. This topic is quite popular and there are many books and journal articles are written in relation to advertising and its influence on people. Also big number of researches done about gender stereotypes. Advertising is influential from its nature as it always has a strong message, and marketers are trying to do everything they can to reach the audience and deliver this message. Sometimes marketers does not realise what impact they have on people, because they are doing it on their own purpose. Values tend to change over time as a consequence of some internal and external factors. Gender roles in the society have also changed for various of reasons. Some time ago they had different responsibilities, the woman was like a supplement to a man, and now women are much more independent, and there is also a noticeable change in advertising. Thus, the main aim of this project is:

- To investigate the role of advertising in people's social values changes in UK, particularly from the perspective of gender stereotypes.

In order to fulfil this aim the following objectives have been set:

Identify the women's and men's roles in the society in UK these days

Evaluate the influence strength of perceived web advertising on consumers' gender stereotypes.

Assess the advantages and disadvantages of an advertising impact

Assess the difference between the current values and advertising portrayals of gender roles.

To that end, this project will consist of the review of different materials, such as books to be clear on important terms definitions and main theories; research papers to find what is already done by scholars in relation to this topic; journal articles to understand the topic more in depth, assess different points of view, critically discuss them and come to some point which will be a gap in this field and allow for the further research; online resources to support arguments. The methodology of the research is going to be provided, after which the actual research will be conducted and results will be discussed, using relevant visual materials to illustrate findings.

This research is intended to be helpful to organisations to improve their understanding of target audience, and also to examine impact on consumption and buying patterns to avoid mistakes. 2. Literature review

2.1. Definition and types of advertising

Advertising is a frequently used tool in marketing, it is still effective and good communication tool to persuade large groups of consumers into doing some actions towards the company or idea (Pelsmacker et al., 2013). There are many types of advertising distributed through different communication channels such as online and offline advertising. Offline advertising is the most traditional way to promote products or company, it includes TV ads, radio, print, newspapers, magazines, direct mail, outdoor, internet. Television targets the wide audience, and is still one the most expensive and popular media to distribute the message. Radio is a media which has no visual aspect of an ad, that is a disadvantage. Most of the newspapers and magazines are target-oriented, that makes them effective in the way to reach the particular target audience. Direct mail is good in reaching the high-risk groups and people who are difficult to reach via other channels. Outdoor advertising needs to be especially attractive to catch the consumers' attention as people outside can be easily distracted. Online advertising is the most contemporary type as it is mostly means use of internet channels, such as website and social media ads (Pelsmacker et al., 2013). Internet advertising is very focused, and helps to reach needed target group. Social media help advertisers to distribute the message only for those who are more likely to be interested in that kind of information.

2.2. Advertising expenditure

Advertising one of the most expensive way of promotion. The total UK adspend for 2015 is 20,087 millions. The following table is showing the amounts of money spent on advertising through different media. Internet adspend reached the biggest amount of 8,606 millions, which is a significant number, however it can be reasonably justified, as the most of the UK people use internet rather than other channels. There is also much spent for advertising on TV, it can be assumed that it happened because the ads on TV are much more expensive, and it allows to reach huge number of people. UK advertising expenditure increased by 7.5% to £20.1bn since 2010 , according to Warc Expenditure Report (2016). Warc is also stated that the UK will have one of the largest advertising market in 2016 in terms of spend and also the total UK adspend was expected to grow with 5.5% forecast in 2016 and 2017 (Internet Advertising Bureau UK, 2016).

Figure 1. Source:

2.3. Why online advertising?

Technology development is very fast in the 21st century, and along with these transformations advertising is also changes in terms of media uses, consumers engagement, messages sent. In this project is going to be looked at online advertising, because TV advertising does not already have that significant influence as it has 15 years ago. Television was the main source of news, entertainment, and had influence on mass consciousness, as well as TV ads. People nowadays are not that trustful, as they basically have an access to any information they need, the content is not selective as it was on TV. Bearing this in mind the message appeals used in advertising have changed as well as they need to be persuasive enough.

On the one hand advertising is trying to reflect people's values to be more understandable, more appropriate, more considerable. But on the other hand advertisers tend to make up the new issues for consumers to create an appropriate context for their products. Consumers' needs may change being under the advertising pressure. This may also lead to the values changes.

Types of web ad

2.4. Message appeals

Message appeal is very important in advertising, because if the appeal will not be appropriate and relevant the advertising is not going to be successful (Hughes et al., 2013). There are many techniques used, but the following two are the most popular: information-based appeals (rational) and feelings-based appeals (emotional). Rational appeal has an information, facts or arguments attached to it. Selecting the appropriate argument depends on the product or service itself, and on needs of target audience. A number of surveys conducted within women found out that most of the women feel that advertisers use inappropriate stereotyping to reflect gender roles in their ads, which portrays females as housewives and mother. Emotional appeal used in some ads to differentiate products' position using many techniques such as fear, humour, animation, sex, music, fantasy.

Attitudes towards the advertising

2.5. Value definitions

"A value is an enduring belief that a specific mode of conduct or end state of existence is personally or socially preferable to an opposite or converse mode of conduct or end state of existence. A value system is an enduring organisation of beliefs concerning preferable modes of conduct or end states of existence along a continuum of relative importance." (Rokeach, 1973, p.5). Values determines humans' behaviour in different life situations, their views and ideologies. Consumers' set of values plays an important role in their consumption choices because all the products offered in the market help people to reach some value-related goal (Solomon et al., 2013). This project is going to look at the people's values from the consumer behaviour perspective, as

Values may vary from culture to culture. Every culture has a set of core values, such as wisdom, cleanliness, health, despite that fact values tend to change over time, also the same value may vary in different culture in terms of its extent and level of importance, what have an impact on product value. Basically, all the consumer researches are related to values identification and measurement. (Solomon et al., 2013).

Social values mean how people perceive themselves and others in a society, what are their roles and positions in that society, the rules of behaviour, the norms that are accepted by the majority of people. This is the beliefs about the goals that need to be achieved and the ways and methods of achievement. Social values are the products of humans' culture, which tend to be changed or modified over the time or as a result of an impact of some external factors. There is a number of different value classifications. Rokeach (1973) identified 18 instrumental and 18 terminal values. White identified 50 different categories of values classified in 7 sections. However, this project is going to look atthe gender-related value, as this topic is still relevant and still has unresolved questions.

2.6. Social values in advertising

Advertising and consumer behaviour have a strong connection, as they both depend on each other to some extent. Understanding of social values development and changes will help to influence and control the way the particular brand is perceived and brand reputation and image. Sometimes to develop a positive brand reputation the company's values need to match with consumers' values. Also understanding of relationships between the advertising and social values and also impact of advertising should be studied, because advertisers takes the responsibility of what they present and what is being seen by consumers. It is difficult to track the real impact of advertising, it takes years to identify some changes in people's beliefs and behaviour, takes time to research and find out the reasons.

(Lawrence, italian dutch research) article

There was a content analysis conducted by italian and dutch researchers with the very interesting outcome. They analysed italian and dutch magazines ads trying to find out if advertising reflects or shapes the cultural values, given that fact that there are difference between Netherlands' and Italy's gender-related values. Italian men are tend to be more masculine and playing more dominant, occupational role, when women are featured in decorative role. In Netherlands it is perceived in the opposite way, where women and men have the equal rights, they both take financial responsibility and focuses on cooperation. However, the research shows that newspapers from both countries portrayed women as more physically attractive, passive, leisure related objects, whereas men shown at work, playing more functional, active and responsible role.

"Measuring the Cultural Values Manifest in Advertising" (Richard W. Pollay, University of British Columbia)

Pollay states that advertising is the only institution which plays a major role in mass media and also which is being continually developed by scientists to be more effective and influential which shows its importance in relation with social values.

Advertising has an impact on social values because it is intend to be persuasive, this is the nature of advertising, also it is professionally developed to influence customers, and based on research, testing, consumer psychology. Repeated message in the media is very influential as well, that helps to persuade people more effectively and to become more memorable (Pollay, 1990). Even if consumers think that they have self immune to advertising and it does not have any affect on them it still does, no matter whether the actual ad was successful or not. Pollay (1990) is also sharing the strong argument about what changes advertising provokes. For example, if advertising promotes goods and objects it makes people believe in consumption as the main way of satisfaction. Appealing to individuals foster to selfishness, easily understood advertising, using social stereotypes leads to racism and sexism. In addition to existing values classification Pollay (1990) created a smaller group of values which are applied on advertising. Pollay says that advertising is a mirror of human's values, however the mirror is distorted, this can lead to the assumption that a distorted reflection can make some changes in people's beliefs.

In major of his articles Pollay highlights the advertising impact on social values and present it as something obvious.

2.8. Gender role in advertising

Lots of researches are done in relation to gender roles and they have shown that the women are generally presented having a decorative role or concerned just with house-related issues, such as cleaning, cooking, child care (Grau and Zotos, 2016). However, situation is changing, and women nowadays are more independent and self-supporting, along with these new opportunities and responsibility for women, men acquired new ones as well. There are three factors that caused changes in gender roles: the rise of feminism in 1960s claiming equal rights, then changes in labor force as a consequence, and changes in family role structure (Zotos and Lysonski, 1994). Despite these changes the advertising started to portrait them quite late.

Figure 2 and 3. Source:

Nowadays the advertising portray gender roles quite similarly in different countries, and researches show that from the advertisers' opinion their goal is not to change the values, the advertising is a mirror of current social environment. However, they might not realise the actual impact of their messages, regardless of whether they do it on purpose or not. Thus there is an assumption that advertisers opinion is quite subjective. Firstly, the conclusions as well as interpretation of the current gender roles in the society might be incorrect. Secondly, advertisers might not catch the processes happening in the society. The women have more new responsibilities these days, and are capable to achieve the same heights as men can. Men are also have new responsibilities at home due to women's less availability, however it is difficult to find a visual ad which has a man on it doing some works at home. According to content analysis - until 2010 advertising did not do much to change the traditional gender roles but seemed reinforcing them (Marshall et al., 2014).

Despite that fact that rise of feminism happened more than 50 years ago, the "offensive" advertising still exist. European Advertising Standard Alliance (EASA) has updated their regulations on 2008 after receiving complaints about some ads being offensive and sexist (Grau and Zotos, 2016). Thus, these regulations basically imposes the messages that need to be represented in the ads, even if it is not true but for the purpose of tolerance.

According to the article from the Telegraph newspaper that Spanish toy shop has already started its effort to challenge gender stereotyping and created a catalog with toys where children, both boys and girls, play with kitchen equipments, beauty accessories, cleaning tools and so on (see Picture 3), trying to encourage children to take the same responsibilities in life. First of all it would be right to say that advertising is not influential in this case, as they have some impact on parents' choices, instead of making an assumption what toys their child is going to play, based on his gender. That will construct the new value system in the future society.

Fowler's and Thomas' (2015) research show there are more men in advertising portrayed as fathers, but it still not significant. Chu, Lee and Kim (2016) conducted a research about non-stereotypical gender role representation willing to find whether positive or negative effect of this type of advertising dominates. Thus, they found that consumers perceive it positively, moreover researchers stated that this advertising may lead to changes in society, that is what they have noticed and concluded from the process of the research.

2.9. Humorous appeal in stereotypical advertising

According to Eisen, Plagemann and Sollwedel (2014) research gender roles are mostly represented in humorous ads, and the way they are represented in the message depend on humour. There are two methods how stereotypes can be used as a source of humour, first - using nontraditional stereotypical representation by defying social norms, and second - using exaggeration of traditional gender roles, thereby showing that stereotypes deviates from social norms. The stereotypical message in humorous and non-humorous messages is not necessarily different and they wanted to find it out by research. Content analysis showed that men are more likely to be depicted in humorous ads. They found that traditional male stereotypes more occur in humorous ads, and traditional female stereotypes more occur in non-humorous ads. The next question they paid the attention at is if humour help to increase effectiveness of stereotypical and non-stereotypical ads. If online questionnaire results showed that humour adds a positive effect on attitudes towards the ad and brand, and credibility of the portrayed characters. However, positive effect from humour for non-traditional stereotyping was stronger that for traditional one, and in this case the effect was stronger for women than for men. These findings support the previous points of view stating that non-traditional stereotypes or non-stereotypical gender roles are perceived by consumers more effectively nowadays. However, this study was done in Germany, some findings are useful for this case, but on the other hand the findings from another culture might be different, as the main focus of this project is to look at the UK society.

Summary of literature review

Concluding literature review we can say that advertising can be influential and has an impact on the society to some extent, however researches show that it is more works as mirror of people's values. We have also found out that there are some issues in the way advertisers portray gender roles in advertising, as until 2010 it seem to reinforce traditional gender roles rather than address the changes and some consumers complain about gender stereotypes advertising being offensive. Nowadays, advertising has slightly changed and new values are represented, which were accepted by consumers. however if women are more adopted these new changes, men are not completely ready for them, as they have not requested this position as women did. also there are not much researches done in relation with men stereotyping in advertising especially in web advertising (Grau and Zotos, 2016). non-stereotypical ads were perceived well but how they are reflecting the real situation. Researches also show the special effect from the humorous ads about gender roles and their impact…..

3. Approach to the problem

3.1. Conceptual framework

The conceptual framework represents the relationship between dependent and independent variables. In this case the dependent variables will be "perceived gender roles" it is how consumers perceive stereotypes, and "desired gender role" - the position they think they want to be on, in other words, desired role they want to play, not necessarily reflecting their real values. Independent factors influencing desired gender roles will be: Stereotypical advertising, non-stereotypical advertising, humorous stereotypical advertising, humorous non-stereotypical advertising. Research will be designed to understand what impact those factors have on desired values and to identify which factors are more prevalent than others, which factors will be perceived positively, which will be perceived as being offensive. Thus, it will be possible to understand if independent factors make any change to gender role and values.  

Perceived values / gender roles

Web stereotypical advertising

Web non-stereotypical advertising

Humorous Web stereotypical advertising

Humorous Web non-stereotypical advertising

Desired values/gender roles 3.2. Hypotheses

“A hypothesis is an unproven statement or proposition about a factor or phenomenon that is of interest to the researcher”. (Malhotra, 2013).


- Traditional stereotypes in advertising perceived by consumers as being offensive

- Non-traditional stereotypes in advertising perceived by consumers as more desirable and they express positive attitudes towards it

- consumers express positive attitudes towards humorous advertising related to gender roles

Find measurements in non stereot,.

4. Methodology

4.1. Research philosophy

“The term research philosophy refers to a system of beliefs and assumptions about the development of knowledge. “

The research philosophy chosen for this project is positivism. because it “entails working with an observable social reality to produce law-like generalisations.”

4.2. Research design

The research design is a plan of how the research question will be answered.

Quantitative research is selected for this project. This is the technique used to quantify data and implies use of different measurements and statistical analysis. One of the methods to conduct a quantitative research is a survey, which includes questionnaire. The nature of this project is to understand the causal relationship between advertising and gender roles and that leads to a causal research. Casual research is a type of conclusive research where the main objective is to assess cause and effect relationships. Causal research is being used in this case as this allows to understand which variables are the cause and which variables are the effect.

“The survey strategy is usually associated with a deductive research approach. It is a popular and common strategy in business and management research and is most frequently used to answer ‘what', ‘who', ‘where', ‘how much' and ‘how many' questions. It therefore tends to be used for exploratory and descriptive research. Survey strategies using questionnaires are popular as they allow the collection of standardised data from a sizeable population in a highly economical way, allowing easy comparison. In addition, the survey strategy is perceived as authoritative by people in general and is comparatively easy both to explain and to understand. Every day a news bulletin, news website or newspaper reports the results of a new survey that is designed to find out how a population thinks or behaves in relation to a particular issue “

“The survey strategy allows you to collect quantitative data which you can analyse quantitatively using descriptive and inferential statistics (Sections 12.4 and 12.5). In addition, data collected using a survey strategy can be used to suggest possible reasons for particular relationships between variables and to produce models of these relation- ships. Using a survey strategy should give you more control over the research process and, when probability sampling is used, it is possible to generate findings that are sta- tistically representative of the whole population at a lower cost than collecting the data for the whole population

4.3. Sampling

The recent research shows that more than 90% of people within the age of 16-54 used internet recently. This is a big number, however it is not said by what purpose they were driven, and how have they used internet. They might send online messages, listen to online music, watch a video, and they might not see any ad within all this spent time using internet.


Therefore, the best option would be to find statistics about more specific use of internet which implies use of websites or social media because they contain ads. The following statistics would be more helpful and supportive in this case (see Figure). This graph present the data which shows two sources of news which are preferred by different age groups. 76% of consumers in 18-24 age range and also more than 50% of consumers within age range 25-44 said that their main source of news is online source (including social media). These are big numbers to consider consumers within age 18-44 as people who are more likely to be influenced by an ad on web.


As the size of population for this research is broad the sampling method will be applied.

Collecting data through carefully selected sample will be more effective. Sampling techniques divide into two types: probability sampling and non-probability sampling. Non-probability sampling is not used for statistical purposes, while probability sampling is, as it is mostly used in survey type researches (Saunders et al., 2015). The suitable sample needs to be identified in order to achieve the objectives. The nature of this topic implies that population for this research is quite big, thus the sample should contain a few hundreds of respondents, however учитывая difficulties in accessing all those people and the purpose of this project the sample size will be 100 respondents, most of which will be students. They are the most used sample for researches dedicated to gender roles in advertising.

4.4. Data collection

The research is going to be conducted through SurveyMonkey service, that will help to reach the appropriate sample with relevant characteristics in a short period of time. It is also going to be supported by face-to-face survey and sending emails.

As the collected data will be quantitative and it will require detailed analysis, the SPSS software will be used in this case. This program allows to analyse data through descriptive in inferential statistics.

4.5. Limitations

4.6. The questionnaire


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