Keywords: GENDER STEREOTYPING
1.1 Background to the Study
Advertising is a persuasive non-personal communication about products, services, or ideas usually paid for by identified sponsors through various mass media. Today, we are exposed to advertisements everywhere, whether on the bus, while walking around the street, on the highways, while traveling, in the newspapers, on the radio, while watching television, on social media, in SMS adverts, and in email advert/marketing.
Writing a persuasive, attractive, and audience-driven advertising copy requires creativity and innovation. In doing that, the copywriter employs varieties of tools and techniques that will help in achieving the desired goals through careful selection and positioning of copy elements such as pictures, colors, and fonts among other elements. However, one of the trending visual elements used in today’s advertising copy is the use of a gender approach like feminine pictures otherwise called gender appeals especially in promoting fashion and cosmetics products and services (Erin, 2019). Advertising critics have berated the excessive use of women or ladies as a persuasive tool because sometimes it amounts to deception, lies, and just mere propaganda. It is rare these days to see adverts on either print or broadcast media, even online without women, especially in the beauty manufacturing products and services, particularly in most soaps, body creams, and hair creams such as Dove brands.
Most of the advertisements that showcase women have them as the user of the product, such as in the Dove, Harpic Toilet Washer, Sunlight Detergent Soap, Always Pad, Body creams, and toilet soaps (Delta Soap, Lux Soap, Tura, Joy, e.t.c. Although, this trend is changing as more women are used in advertising luxuries such as hotels, cars, motorbikes, and so on.
In order to make some products and services more appealing to men by reinforcing sexist notions, adverts exploit sexuality. Many products are pitched with explicit sexual imagery that borders on pornography. Not only do these ubiquitous images encourage us to think of sex as a commodity, but also they often reinforce stereotypes of women as sex objects and may contribute to violence against women (Mamah, 2009).
It may be argued that there is nothing wrong with using women in advertising products. But we do worry when that advertisement involves demonstrating her sexuality and using it in such a way as to untangle men, to keep their attention (Mamah, 2009) opines that ‘people might end up buying sex, instead of the commodity being advertised’.
Nowadays, the impact of women in advertisements has generated a lot of controversy in many parts of the world. Some argue that women are used as followers in advertisements. They see women as ornaments that are used to beautify the advertisement. They further went on to say that women garnish the advertisements and make the adverts appealing to the eyes (Stephen, Adel, and Nancy, 2016). Perhaps, this accounts for why advert agencies must see or feel the impact of women in advertisements as a powerful polarized force of feminine attraction over masculine, a phenomenon well cherished for quick awareness of adverts and the sale of products (Stephen, et al., 2016). Also, product adverts like Dove Fresh Moisturizing Cream, Delta soap, Joy soap, and so on, call to mind what effects womanish roles in advertisements can play on the audience.
To Africa and Nigeria especially the northern society, women should remain in their traditional role and remain in their background, unseen and unheard. The African society perceives exposure of women as a most unwelcome thing. In certain parts of African traditional society exposing a female’s body is termed a taboo, just like the Muslim community forbids women from exposing themselves to certain practices which they term evil and ungodly.
Individuals hold numerous beliefs about what constitutes masculinity and feminity, these beliefs shape their perceptions of who is likely to perform certain behaviours and what behaviours are appropriate at work, school, and congregations. Such beliefs and perceptions constitute gender stereotypes, which are the images of males and females. Gender stereotypes, influence people’s expectations and evaluations of what is appropriate for them as well as for others. Stereotypes can limit the types of careers that people select and can facilitate or inhibit the perceptions of an individual’s effectiveness.
Finello (2014) writes that gender stereotypes can limit the development of a human personality and can lead to social inequality. Indeed, the effects of gender stereotypes and gender inequality can easily be observed in all spheres of life. For instance, studies have shown that there are gender differences in communication styles (Katz, 2013).
Unilever Nigeria Plc is the manufacturer of Dove cream and other products. Dove Go Fresh Pear & Aloe Vera Body Wash offers a refreshing scent and moisturizing formula. Some are made of aloe vera while others are made of Cucumber and so on. It also revitalizes dry skin care, nourishment, and fragrances. Dove doesn’t dry skin like soap can moisturizing cream and mild cleansers help protect skin’s moisture, it leaves skin softer, smoother, and healthier-looking (Unilever, 2019). Dove Go Fresh Moisturizing Cream advertisement is essentially designed to promote beauty and freshness among women and young girls with a bias toward men. All celebrities, models, and images are used in the media and advertisements.
1.2 Problem Statement
One of the most debated issues in this 21st century is gender equality and the advocacy of this ideology uses all media to change the status quo. Adverts and films are extensively used to promote gender equality and stereotyping because of the way the advertisers depict and portray masculinity and feminity in society.
Gender portrayals in advertising have been examined extensively in the last five decades and still remain an important topic. Changing role structures in the family and in the labour force including politics and education have brought significant variation in both male and female roles and subsequently how it is reflected in advertising (Stacy & Yorgos, 2016).
Erin (2019) find out that gender stereotypes in adverts can contribute to inequality in society, with costs to society. He adds that some portrayals in advertisements can over time play a part in limiting people’s potential. According to data from Kantar (2015) cited in Erin (2019) indicated that two-thirds of women skip ads if they feel they negatively stereotype females. The data also show men are 38% more likely to be featured prominently than women in advertising. And when both genders appear, men feature more frequently than women in a leading role (21% versus 15%).
Though lots of studies have been conducted on sex appeals in adverts, women in advertisements, body teen image in advertising, and gender stereotypes in film (Doghudje and Elegbe, 2014), Folounso (2016), Heather (2019), Adewoye, Odesanya, Abubakar and Olorode (2014) But little or no study has been specifically conducted on gender stereotyping in advertisement and even where it exists they were not conducted in Nigeria (Ibrahim, 2017) and specifically on Dove Go Fresh Moisturizing. Using women or females in public, particularly in advertisements is against some cultures and religions,s especially among Muslims and such advertisements don’t often do down well with them (Ibrahim, 2017). The study equally observed that men are stereotyped from the beauty world and considered that only women desire to appear good and this is evidenced in Dove Cream. To this end, the study examines the influence of gender stereotyping on consumers’ patronage of Dove Go Fresh Moisturizing Cream advertisement, especially among the students of the University of Nigeria, Nnsuka.
1.3 Research Objectives
The objectives of the study are:
- To examine the extent to which Dove Cream stereotypes in its advertisement and other promotional campaigns.
- To ascertain the extent to which gender stereotypes in Dove Go Fresh Moisturizing Cream advertisement influenced the gender patronage of the brand among UNN students.
1.4 Research Questions
- What is the extent which Dove Cream stereotypes in its advertisement and other promotional campaigns?
- To what extent has gender stereotypes in Dove Go Fresh Moisturizing Cream advertisement influenced the gender patronage of the brand among UNN students?
1.5 Significance of the Study
Research of this nature has micro and macro beneficiaries, especially in this era of rising gender equality. Different companies will find this research very interesting as it will keep them aware of the level of effect that their activities have on gender and consumers’ consumption, especially on the image body and general appearance of teens and women.
This study will also challenge advertisers to conduct research on the attitude of consumers to gender stereotyping in advertisements, especially in religious and cultural values communities.
The advertisers and advertising agencies will see the need to develop new strategies to convey their advert messages to the target audience without necessarily stereotyping and other forms of bias. Government through its regulating agencies such as APCON, BON, NBC, and others should common up with policies and regulations just like they are currently doing in the West and Europe to banish stereotyping adverts because of its inherent implications in society. It forms part of academic materials that students, lecturers, researchers, and the company can turn to when looking for material on gender in advertisements, gender stereotyping, and other gender-related issues.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The study which investigates the influence of gender stereotyping on consumers’ patronage of Dove Go Fresh Moisturizing Cream advertisement shall be narrowed in scope to the undergraduate students of the University of Nigeria Nnsuka due to their proximity to the researcher and because the University community has urged numbers of female students who can be the respondents for this study. Another rationale for selecting UNN undergraduate is that it will be difficult to study all consumers of Dove Cream.
1.7 Operational Definition of Terms
Influence: This refers to the impact or contributions that advertisements have on consumers’ patronage of Dove Go Fresh Cream among undergraduates of the University of Nigeria Nnsuka.
Gender Stereotyping: It is the use of a particular gender to convey an advert message in order to the point that the advert is targeting a specific social category such as using females to point to Dove Go Fresh Moisturizing Cream.
Consumers Patronage: This refers to the desire of consumers especially the University of Nigeria students to use or introduce the Dove Go Fresh Moisturizing Cream.
Dove Go Fresh Moisturizing Cream: This is one of the Dove advertisements designed to promote Dove Go Fresh Moisturizing Cream with women and young ladies as targets with the impression to go fresh and beautify using the cream.
Advertisement: This is any form of persuasive communication about Dove Go Fresh Moisturizing Cream purposely to influence and persuade consumers in order to sell or recommend it to friends and family.