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Change in Ad Representations Essay

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Updated: Feb 11th, 2022


Advertising is an integral part of contemporary society. It is now of the main forces stimulating the development of business and other spheres of human activity. Regardless of multiple innovations, changes in strategies, and methods of management, the primary goal of the given tool remains the same is it is designed to attract people and spark interest in a particular product by emphasizing its qualities and benefits that might be generated after its purchase. The effectiveness of advertising depends on the correct understanding of the needs of the target audience, its interests, and buying behaviors. For this reason, in the course of society’s evolution, ad representations have been changing to be able to consider new visions and remain sufficient.

The given shifts in advertising have a certain research interest as they demonstrate the alteration in people’s mentalities, attitudes, and inclusion of specific social groups in the discourse. In this regard, the given paper is devoted to the investigation of particular ads with reference to gender and ethnicity and how they changed with the reconsideration of the role of various groups. The given analysis will help to acquire an improved understanding of factors affecting the sphere of advertising and the contribution of the cultural context to designing and launching campaigns that might be interesting for customers.

The paper includes the elements of a case study as it rests on certain examples that help to show the alterations and discuss them. In such a way, the work promotes the idea that the changes in advertising and their representations are preconditioned by the significant social shifts that impact people’s mentalities.

Theoretical Framework

Promotional culture is a critically important component of the contemporary world. The dominance of the consumer society introduces the need for effective popularisation tools that will make people interested in offered goods and buy them to create the basis for further production (Dyer, 1982). Under these conditions, the significance of advertising and its role in the creation of a beneficial environment becomes extremely high. It severs as the leading differentiation and popularisation tool that guarantees attention to brands and their ability to evolve by selling products to clients attracted by unusual campaigns. At the same time, the strength of advertising to attract consumers is a complex issue that consists of multiple components and factors.

First of all, it should be targeted and created with increased attention to the existing trends and peculiarities of the audience. Investigators agree in the opinion, that customers’ attitude to specific products changes every year, which introduces the idea of the constant reconsideration of advertising to preserve its usefulness. The traditional desire to acquire a high-quality product at a reasonable price might be followed by the requirements to design, fashion, appearance, and other traits (Danesi, 2006). These aspects of buyer behavior arise from the current features of society and cultural peculiarities.

For instance, the prevalence of environmentally friendly concerns today is reflected in numerous ads that emphasize the green character of the company and its products (Arvidsson, 2006). In such a way, all issues relevant to society at a particular period are reflected in advertising campaigns that can be considered the mirror of communities and their interests.

The given peculiarities of advertising introduce specific strategies that are employed by managers to guarantee that it will work and ensure the increase in the number of interested clients. There is a critical need for the consideration of the current stage of the business development and population groups that are included in the distribution process to create images and concepts that will be attractive for individuals and motivate them to buy particular things. From this perspective, the evolution of advertising and approaches employed by specialists demonstrate how society alters its attitudes to various cohorts of customers and try to affect them.

In such a way, the appearance and evolution of specific ads focused on gender issues, and differences can be explained by a set of factors. Multiple successes of the feminist movement along with the appeals to create a tolerant society and the radical shifts in people’s mentalities after WWII establish the basis for the reconsideration of the role of a woman (Keshari and Jain, 2016). In the second half of the 20th century, females acquired resources and opportunities to take part in all significant social processes and impact decision-making and policy-making processes (Berger, 2000). Their buying capacity and behaviors also altered.

The appearance of a new and giant group of clients could not be disregarded by the business world as it provided multiple opportunities for the generation of additional revenues and growth (Cortese, 1999). For this reason, this period is also characterized by the change in ad representations as it started to depict elements attractive for women with the primary goal to popularise products that might be interesting to them.

Similar processes can be observed regarding ethnicity and culture. The shift towards the promotion of diversity and elimination of all discriminative racial patterns preconditioned the rise of the idea of multiculturalism and tolerance. For the business world, it also meant the change in the vector of evolution and inclusion of various ethnic groups in various promotional campaigns. A significant number of advertisements acquired such features as the appeals to cultural and ethnic motifs, promotion of goods regarding race, and demonstration of respect for multiple minorities (Banet-Weiser, 2012). It preconditioned the appearance of new strategies to impact specific population groups and remain in touch with them to monitor the change in demand and introduce appropriate changes.

In such a way, ad representations are characterized by a high level of flexibility and variability. Researchers agree in the opinion, that the current approach to promoting goods critically depends on the existing demand and population groups that have a buying capacity sufficient for making deals or purchases (Fowles, 1996). To preserve a stable income and be ready to act in a constantly changing business environment, firms should be prepared to alter their strategies and use the most effective tools to affect the target audience.

Altogether, the current theoretical framework explains the constantly changing character of advertising and its flexibility. Campaigns launched by brands reflect significant processes in society and shifts in people’s mentalities. For this reason, they can be used to understand the peculiarities of a particular period and context that preconditioned the creation of a specific ad representation. The given paradigm will be applied to the analysis of the impact of gender and ethnicity on the approach to promoting goods and ad representations utilized by companies to create a stable clients base.


The investigation of the selected topic will be accomplished by researching special material related to advertisement and including elements of the case study. The strategies employed by firms to create promotional campaigns, approaches, and concepts will serve as the basis for the research. To demonstrate how ad representations altered in the second half of the 20th century under the impact of ethnic and gender issues and trace them up to the modern context, the most frequently used methods and concepts are studied and discussed.

It contributes to the improved understanding of the business environment of that period and its effect on the appearance of multiple campaigns and also of the unique characteristics of society and its preferences. The acquired knowledge will help to make the conclusion about the role of advertising in representing communities.

As for the element of the case study, specific ads containing gender and ethnic elements will be analyzed to demonstrate the importance of these elements for the business world and their impact on the evolution of representations and ideas used by specialists working in the sphere. In such a way, the selected approach is justified by the fact that it will contribute to the collection of information about strategies employed by companies to promote their products after the reconsideration of the role of women in society and inclusion of representatives of various ethnicities in the global discourse in the second half of the 20th century and the modern context.


In general, gender advertisement can be determined as the sort of promotional activities that are designed to attract representatives of certain sex by referring to images that are considered traditionally attractive from them. In some cases, it might also presuppose stereotypical gender roles and misconceptions. However, regarding the paradigm of the current research, the reconsideration of the approach to advertising because of the growing role of women and shifts towards equality acquires the top priority. At the same time, the second half of the 20th century is also characterized by the significant changes in the structure of the society and the inclusion of previously disregarded ethnic groups in the business paradigm (Davidson, 1992).

In such a way, this change in the composition of the target audience triggered a significant reconsideration of the approaches to the creation of advertisement and elements it should contain. This statement is proven by the fact that since the 1970s, the number of promotional materials, including these elements, increased significantly and continued to grow (Cramer, 2020). In such a way, the business world responded to the change in society and people’s mentalities.

Women-based advertisement is one of the integral features of the modern world. In the contemporary context, it is considered an accepted and universal aspect of various promotional activities. Moreover, today it does not employ gender roles that are considered biased or even discriminative regarding the current paradigm and the tendency towards the creation of an equal society (Sandhu, 2018). However, the given progress is achieved due to the appearance of multiple ads depicting women and the continuous change in representations. For instance, one of the typical images of the 1970s (see Figure 1) represented a woman as a weak individual who meets the traditional ideas of their roles and qualities.

Gender-based ad.
Figure 1. Gender-based ad (Cramer, 2020).

The primary goal of this ad was to popularise a product with a convenient bottle that can be useful in households and appreciated by housewives. From the modern perspective, it remains discriminative and sexist as it adheres to the idea of a weak gender; however, it also shows that companies started to create content that is interesting or females as they could take an active part in decision making or made a purchase by themselves. The promotional materials also rested on stereotypical concepts of beauty and success associated with women and their main elements (Tartaglia and Rollero, 2015). However, with the further empowerment of females and acquisition of opportunities equal to males’ ones, the images altered and the neutral or tolerant ad representations acquired the top priority.

Similar processes can be observed regarding the increasing role of ethnicity in the business world. The change in the attitude to black people and their becoming respected members of society created the basis for their transformation into desired clients who can contribute to the generation of additional revenue and additional growth (Cruz, 2015). Moreover, a large and uncovered population group provided multiple opportunities to companies that started to cooperate with this cohort. As a result, ads representations also altered and started to include elements attractive to different ethnic groups. For instance, the image from the 1970s (see Figure 2) depicts a happy black family enjoying fast food.

Ethnicity-based ad.
Figure 2. Ethnicity-based ad (Cruz, 2015).

The given advertisement demonstrates significant shifts in people’s mentalities and their acceptance of the fact that racial issues lose their relevance and cannot drive the business world. For this reason, race-based advertising continued to evolve and also included images of representatives of multiple ethnic groups sitting together and enjoying a particular good. Today, the given approach also remains outdated because of the peculiarities of the context and the ideas of equality. There are no goods that are designed especially for black people as it can be considered a form of racism; however, it became possible because of the radical change in the second half of the 20th century.

The primary reasons for the appearance of these changes can be explained regarding the theoretical framework mentioned above. The shifts in people’s mentalities and the radical changes in the structure of society impacted the business world. The appearance of numerous potential clients previously not affected by brands introduced the need for useful tools to affect them and guarantee their devotion. For this reason, ad representations altered radically and started to include gender and ethnic elements that might serve as triggers of interest and attain the broadening of the target audience for companies.

The given process became a significant step towards the development of advertisement and the business world. The results of the reconsideration of the strategies employed by specialists working in the sphere of advertising preconditioned the appearance of new targeted campaigns and facilitated the evolution of tolerant and neutral approaches to promoting particular goods. At the same time, it resulted in the further development of the field and the growing role of advertising as a tool to influence all population groups (Tiffany, 2019). The given change in representations also indicated the new era of promotion that accepted the ideas of diversity, equality, and inclusion.

The modern context can also be considered a result of the processes outlined in the paper. As stated previously, a significant part of gender or ethnicity-based ads was created regarding the biased or stereotypical ideas related to this cohort (Einstein, 2017). However, due to the further evolution of society, and because of the change in ad representations, the business world shifted towards the tolerant patterns that avoid labeling or using traditional roles in popularising a particular good. It can be considered a significant achievement of a given process and a step towards future successes.

It can also be forecasted that the importance of advertising that affects specific ethnicities and genders will remain high because of the different buying behaviors and the tendency towards the growth in the buying capacity of both women and men. Additionally, the flexibility and diversification peculiar to the modern world will also affect ad representations and create the basis for the emergence of new forms and methods to influence the desired audience and guarantee its interest and devotion to selected products.


Altogether, the given paper demonstrates the existence of a direct correlation between ad representations and the current state of society. Dominant ideas, values, and processes that affect the world at a certain era are reflected in strategies, and approaches specialists employ to create sufficient promotional materials and attain the devotion of a particular population group. It remains a critically important part of the company’s functioning as sufficient methods guarantee the broadening of the target audience and the appearance of new clients. Under the impact of civil movements, the reconsideration of women’s role and inclusion of ethnic groups in the global discourse preconditioned the rise of ads that reflected these issues and features of that period of time.

Reference List

Arvidsson, A. (2006) Brands: meaning and value in media culture. London: Routledge.

Banet-Weiser, S. (2012) Authentic: the politics of ambivalence in a brand culture. New York, NY: New York University Press.

Berger, A. (2000) Ads, fads, and consumer culture. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.

Cortese, A. (1999) Provocateur: images of women and minorities in advertising. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.

Cramer, M. (2020) ‘. The New York Times. Web.

Cruz, L. (2015) ‘’, The Atlantic. Web.

Danesi, M. (2006) Brands. London: Routledge.

Davidson, M. (1992) The consumerist manifesto. London: Routledge.

Dyer, G. (1982) Advertising as communication. London: Routledge.

Einstein, M. (2017) Advertising: what everyone needs to know. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Fowles, J. (1996) Advertising and popular culture. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Keshari, P. and Jain, S. (2016) ‘Effect of age and gender on consumer response to advertising appeals’, Paradigm, 20(1), pp. 69–82. Web.

Sandhu, N. (2018) ‘Impact of gender cues in advertisements on perceived gender identity meanings of the advertised product’, FIIB Business Review, 7(4), pp. 293–303. Web.

Tartaglia, S. and Rollero, C. (2015) ‘Gender stereotyping in newspaper advertisements: a cross-cultural study’, Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 46(8), pp. 1103–1109. Web.

Tiffany, K. (2019) ‘Gender stereotypes have been banned from British ads. What does that mean?’, Vox. Web.

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