As I read about content analysis in van Zoonen’s book, I was very interested in the content analysis data about advertising. A study that specifically struck me was Dominick and Raunch’s in 1972 concerning the roles women play in New York commercials. I had never realized that in commercials women are usually only represented in advertisements for cosmetic, household, and parental products, while men are usually represented as more high-end product buyers like cars and jewelry. After watching the clip in class the other day about products that are usually seen as feminine aimed towards men, like “murse” and “mewlewry,” I thought it was odd that jewelry commercials are usually aimed towards men.
Recently today the movie How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days came up in conversation and as I read tonight I was reminded of Ben Barry’s diamond advertising angle “Frost Yourself.” This advertising campaign was different than usual because it was aimed toward women and encouraging them to buy jewelry for themselves. Even the commercial Ben’s company later filmed featured a well-off woman urging other women to treat themselves to jewelry and that they did not need men to buy it for them.
This is a completely contradictory example to Dominick and Raunch’s study, but it is still relevant today in advertising. The reason Ben Barry’s campaign was so well liked, was because it was a new idea, appealing to women to buy themselves diamond jewelry instead of relying on men to buy it for them. It seems that advertising has not changed considerably in the past 40 years. While men are probably seen in more advertisements for food and drinks in today’s commercials, I bet if someone did a content analysis on gender roles in advertising today, the roles women and men play would still be similar to the data Dominick and Raunch found.