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Question 2: Mercedes Benz TV Commercial
The advertisement I have chosen to analyse is the Mercedes Benz “Beauty is nothing without Brains” television commercial. The 38-second video takes place in an American library. The clip starts with a close-up shot of a beautiful blonde woman approaching a counter and placing her McDonalds take away order. The frame changes to a short, plump brown-haired woman, in a library, looking very confused by the blonde woman giving her an order. An obviously out of place request in a library. The brown-haired woman explains that they are in a library. With the frame returning to the blonde women, who looks around her as if she is only just realizing where she is. There are a number of men in the background who look up from their books at the “silly” blonde woman. The brown-haired woman returns to her work only for the blonde to now whisper her McDonalds order. Obviously misinterpreting the brown-haired woman's statement and instead of thinking that her issue was with her vocal volume and not the fact that she isn't at fast food restaurants. The video fades out to the white screen with the simple text “beauty is nothing without brains” appearing. Classical music plays in the background as the video fades out once more to be replaced by the Mercedes Benz with logo and image of the particular model this ad is trying to promote (3dana, 2009).
The Mercedes Benz advertisements use two very clear stereotypes. The primary focus of the advertisement was in the portrayal of this woman who can only be described as the stereotypical ‘typical dumb blonde'. The creators chose a beautiful woman, dressed her in the current fashion trends, had her wearing makeup and made her appear to have very high self-esteem. Even once the brown-haired woman looked at her with utter confusion, her smile and expectant gaze never wavered. The strange situation and lack of understanding the woman experience serve to promote the idea within the audience that she is of lower intelligence.
The second stereotyped portrayed is that of the brown-haired woman. She is a contrast to the first woman as she is shorter, larger and obviously doesn't place as much emphasis on her outer public appearance. The audience is led to believe this woman is of high intelligence from her appearance, her assumed position as a librarian and by the fact that she is reading a book.
Mercedes is using a negative portrayal of both female stereotypes in this television advertisement. Although from the perspective of the intended audience the advertisement would appear to be quite humorous these portrayals are damaging to a woman on a societal level. Research into the effects of stereotyping, especially of females, indicates that advertising stereotypes directly influence inequality amongst the genders by promoting sexism, distorted body images and the portrayal of women and men in an inferior manner (Plakoyiannaki and Zotos, 2009). Furthermore, research has shown that the majority of female advertising objectifies women, preferring to feature them as a decorative piece rather than as a person worthy of value.
From the advertisement, it could be assuming that Mercedes Benz, at the time, was looking to position themselves as a car for men rather than women. Although the brand has alternative advertisement has positioned it as a luxury brand for those who consider themselves to be ‘high' class, this particular ad achieved the complete opposite. Instead of the brand creating ideas of luxury, class and sophistication, they have instead positioned themselves to appeal to the lower, less intelligent, middle-class America. The humour appeal and the exaggerated scenario the blonde woman finds herself in further support these ideas.
Plakoyiannaki, E and Zotos, Y 2009, ‘Female role stereotypes in print advertising: Identifying associations with magazine and product categories', European Journal of Marketing, vol 43, Issue 11/12.
3dana, 2009, funny commercial beauty is nothing without brains mercedes-benz class e, Nov 10, viewed 31 July 2017, < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFAeBb2QvYU>.
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