Our group chose to focus on commercials from the auto industry.
Ex. 1 (Ian Macomber): cars.com
This commercial for cars.com originally aired during the Super Bowl this year. I found this commercial really interesting because the cars in it were obviously personified towards a certain gender. There were cars that were male and cars that were female. I think that there is a lot to be said about how the commercial assigns genders to these cars. There are only two female cars in this commercial: the sporty convertible and the minivan. This is indicative of the way that society sees women. Women can only be represented as objects of sex or desire, like the convertible, or as matronly mother figures, like the minivan with the "big rear end."
The other most interesting thing in this commercial is that when the male cars are talking about their reviews, they make a vaguely sexual remark about the convertible. However, when "Sheila" the car overhears them and asks what they were talking about, they are quick to hush each other and tell her that it is nothing. This is a way that this commercial gives the impression that it is acceptable to talk about a woman's body, but only if she does not hear you.
How does this commercial use personification to make a statement about the way we treat women?
What does the selection of the convertible and minivan as the "female cars" say about our culture?
Ex. 2 (Alison Reimer): Mercedes-Benz
How is sex portrayed in this car commercial? How are viewers influenced by this extremely sexualized car commerical? Why is having sex the major the focus when the advertisement is trying to sell a car? Why bring sex into the advertisement at all? Does it make the Mercedes more appealing to potential buyers?
This example teaches society that cheating on your spouse isn't all that bad. The commercial uses bad weather as an excuse for the spouse not to be expecting the person he/she married to be home. It seems to be normalizing adulterous behaviors and actions. It confirms typical societal gender roles--males being strong enough to drive in bad weather conditions, and females staying home relying on men to come to them.
The clip ends with "The E-class with 4MATIC. At least there is one thing you can rely on."
This is suggesting that you may not be able to rely on your spouse, but you can always rely on this car, it will always be there for you. It tells society that a relationship with your significant other may not be all that important, you can cheat, it's not a big deal. In fact, your spouse is probably cheating on you. But the relationship you have with your Mercedes is invaluable. It's something you can rely on. These meanings are created and reinforce in today's media advertisements, at the expense of everyday people. People view advertisements as ideal--they want to be beautiful and perfect, like the people in ads. Sex is almost always incorporated in these ads
Ex. 3 (Kathryn Maurina): Mercedes-Benz
The tagline of this commercial, "Beauty is nothing without brains," has a number of
implications in context with the images in the ad. When the attractive blonde comes in,
the library is full of males. They donʼt appear to be particularly interested in her until the
librarian bluntly states that she is in a library, at which point they all turn and look but
quickly go back to what theyʼve been doing as though she doesnʼt catch their attention.
When she simply changes her voice to a whisper it suggests that she is severely
unintelligent. For the purpose of the commercial this seems to say that a good looking
car is nothing without reﬁned engineering and a solid interior. The blonde is bright in
contrast to the fairly bland color scheme, her female counter part the librarian is
certainly sporting drab colors, thus setting her apart from the general scene. This
idolizes beauty conveying the idea that it is a beacon people will notice and only after
further exploration will the ʻintelligenceʼ come into the picture to validate. It is interesting
to me that the librarian is so matronly and desexed because it makes me think that the
woman portrayed with a higher intelligence becomes in a way less attractive, which
seems counter intuitive to the idea that brains are what make the Mercedes car better.
Why do you think this commercial was banned?
Does it seem ironic that they chose a blonde?
Ex. 4 (Sopheak Pin): Dudge Charger
When comparing these two commercials, we can analyze the different gender roles (male vs. female). They used the stereotypical gender roles to appeal in the car commercials. The use of sexed bodies, gender, and sexuality are shown here as well. The male commercial here discussed how he woke up every morning and prepared his body to share with the society (by shaving). This shows us how he wanted to be handsome and attractive to the woman. He would be working for hours and hours in the meeting; this shows his muscularity of being a man. He would obey the female because he desires to "want you," to have sex with a female.
As for the females, they talked about their duties at home in serving their husband, plus they have to work outside of homes to raise the kids as well. The inequality of job wages between male and female--male got a higher salary with the EXACT same job with the female. This shows males are giving higher value in the society (The charming circle). The female also talked about how she wanted to express or change her body to attract males, the female would let her husband cheated on her and pretends that it was nothing. This state shows how much females are trying to please their husbands.
These commercials show the different daily activities of male and female. Male tends to do things to please himself everyday while female tries to do thing that please the male. These commercials does show the norm a heterosexual relationship between a male and female and masculine and feminism, like what female and male have to do as their roles are taken placed. Both female and male's roles are fitting in the society norm as being heteronormative.
1. What's the role difference between male and female in these commercials?
2. How are males and females treated in the society?
Big Picture Analysis
After looking at all of these commercials, the thing that really stands out the most is the way that these commercials portray the differences between male and female sexuality. In these commercials, the men are always masculine and suave, while the women are almost always sexualized in an extreme way. The commercial will show the woman from the perspective of the male, often showing them in a submissive and vulnerable state. These women rely on the men to give them what they want. On the other hand, if the woman is shown to be intelligent, she is most likely going to be portrayed as a drab or unattractive mother type. This is exemplified in the cars.com commercial and the Mercedes-Benz library commercial. The opposite of the beautiful woman is shown to be the matronly woman.
There is also a lot to be said about the way that heterosexual relationships are represented in these commercials. In the Mercedes-Benz and the Dodge Charger commercials, the main characters are people in married relationships. Both of these commercials feature the men in relationships doing things their respective partners would not approve of. In the Mercedes-Benz commercial, the man (and his wife) are cheating on their respective partners. In the Dodge Charger commercial, the men are shown to be resentful of the "sacrifices" they have made to be in their relationships. These commercials both show that the cars the men drive are a means to, in a way, "take back" their masculinity. They drive these cars as a way to become more of a man than they can be with their wives.
Overall, we have found that the commercials from the car industry have a lot to say about the way that we see women, but also the way that we act in relationships. There is also something interesting in how we let our possessions determine how much of a man or woman we are.