Portrayal of Men and Women in Indian Television Advertising

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Portrayal of Men and Women in Indian Television Advertising Abstract 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 (¡§Advertising: Back in Business¡¨ 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 ¡¥mirror¡¦ of social values (Holbrook 1987; Pollay and Gallagher 1990) or the ¡¥looking glass of masses' (Lantos 1987). Researchers who have analyzed gender portrayals in advertising have found that a society¡¦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.

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