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Portayal of Men and Women N Tlevision Advertising

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Essay title: Portayal of Men and Women N Tlevision Advertising

Title: Role Portrayals of Men and Women in Indian

Television Advertising


Priya Jha Dang, Associate Professor, Management Development Institute, Mehrauli Road, Sukhrali, Gurgaon - 122 001, India. email:

Neharika Vohra, Associate Professor, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, Vastrapur, Ahmedabad ЎV 380 015, India. email:

Correspondence regarding this article may be addressed to Priya Jha Dang; email:


Although gender role portrayals in advertising have been extensively studied in Western and other Asian countries, very few such analyses have been done in India. The study does a systematic analysis of the role portrayal of men and women in Indian television advertising. 128 male role portrayals and 196 female role portrayals are content analyzed for the years 1996, 1999 and 2002. Results show that Indian advertising depicts men and women in traditionally assigned roles of the culture. In several respects, role portrayals in Indian advertising are different from the West but similar to other Asian countries.

Role Portrayals of Men and Women in Indian

Television Advertising

The advertising industry in India is estimated to be Rs 11,000 crore (Ў§Advertising: Back in BusinessЎЁ Businessworld, August 23, 2004) and growing at a robust pace every year. The expenditure in advertising is used to promote a wide range of products ranging from automobiles to washing machines to personal care products. Although the primary function of advertising is to inform consumers about product attributes and benefits, advertising also functions as a vehicle of socio-cultural communication (Courtney and Whipple 1983). Advertisements link the functional benefits of a product to emotional and social benefits thus creating cultural meaning in the course of communication (Aaker, Batra and Myers 1992). The potential of advertising to reflect cultural roles and norms has been recognized by marketing professionals, who have described advertising metaphorically as a ЎҐmirrorЎ¦ of social values (Holbrook 1987; Pollay and Gallagher 1990) or the ЎҐlooking glass of masses' (Lantos 1987). Researchers who have analyzed gender portrayals in advertising have found that a societyЎ¦s gender roles and cultural norms are manifested in its advertisements (e.g. Wolin 2003).

Gender Role Portrayals in Western advertising

Early studies on gender role portrayals in US print advertising documented the presence of a number of stereotypes in the way women and men were depicted in advertising (e.g. Belkaoui and Belkaoui 1976; Courtney and Lockeretz 1971; Sexton and Haberman 1974; Venkatesan and Losco 1975). Studies found that women were found primarily at home or in domestic settings. Women were under represented in working situations and were shown in a narrow range of occupations typically in secretarial, clerical, or blue-collar positions. A large majority of advertisements showed women as preoccupied with physical attractiveness and as sex objects. Men, on the other hand, were shown in a range of occupational roles in settings away from home such as work or outdoors. Women were seen associated with purchase of low priced products such as food products and cosmetics while men were associated with purchase of high value durable products and automobiles. Studies analyzing portrayals of genders in television commercials found similar results (Dominick and Rauch 1979; McArthur and Resko 1975; OЎ¦Donnell and OЎ¦Donnell 1978). Compared to men, women were portrayed as significantly younger, employed less frequently, and at home more often.

Content analyses during the 1980s reported some improvements in portrayals of women in US advertising (Brentl and Cantor 1988; Soley and Kurzbard 1986; Sullivan and OЎ¦Connor 1988). There was an increase in career-oriented roles for women, and working women were shown in a wider range of professional occupations. However, some stereotypical depictions of women continued e.g. women as sex objects, women as preoccupied with physical attractiveness, and women in domestic settings. (Bretl and Cantor 1988; Lovdal 1989).

In the 1980s and 1990s, analyses of advertising role portrayals extended from the US to other countries such as United Kingdom (e.g. Furnham and Bitar 1993; Lysonski 1985; Michell and Taylor 1990), Italy (Furnham and Voli 1989) Denmark

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