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Stereotypes are beliefs shaped around how a particular people with unifying characteristics conduct themselves (MacRae, Stangor and Hewstone 1; Newman 1-12). These beliefs may or may not reflect reality, but they tend to define how people from different social and cultural groups respond to each other (Hinton 33; Schauer 320). Stereotypes have traditionally been exploited by advertisers to effectively market specific products (Tracy 134). This essay seeks to analyze an advertisement, with the focus being on the usage of stereotypes in delivering the message across to potential audiences.
Summary of advertisement
The commercial opens with the scene of a young lady in bed hoping to dream of an encounter with a strong, handsome man. A Sandman enters and sprinkles some sandman dust on her, and immediately a tall, muscular man appears, riding a horse. The lady joins her on his horse and together they ride through enchanted lands. The Sandman moves to another room where a man is sleeping. He slips on a shoe and accidentally pours all of the ‘dream-dust’ he has on the man granting him a super wish.
The man sees himself in a KIA sports car, which he immediately takes to a race track that has a beautiful, semi-naked woman flagging him off. Driving the car, the man goes through a hard-metal band concert, a bullfighting match and also gets to see the world’s largest hot-dog. At the end of the dream, the two dreams collide with the girl falling for the man with the KIA, much to the dismay of the man on the horse (The Hendy Group 1).
The advertisement is fundamentally based on two stereotypes, which set men’s and women’s desires apart. The dream by the girl shows her as being interesting in well-built men and slow romantic rides. This is generally the view that society has of girlie dreams. In contrast, the man’s dream is shaped on their stereotype that men are usually interested in high-performance cars, being adored by beautiful men and eating.
There are some women and men with interests different from the ones portrayed in the advertisement, but these are much fewer than the members of their gender who share in the desires pointed out. The pride with which the lady and the man carry themselves is indicative of the satisfaction that is stereotyped to come from the attainment of success. Lippmann (24) in his studies came to the conclusion that “stereotypes guarantee self-respect” and the makers of the advertisement capitalized on this fact in order to reel in the viewer into their trap.
At the end of the advertisement, the lady leaves her man of desire, for a man considered less attractive, just because he holds a symbol of power and financial might. Generally, most men would be attracted to a handsome and romantic man, who appears to give them all the happiness they need than an average looking wealthy man, who is self-absorbed. However, the way the commercial draws to an end supports Lippmann’s conclusion that:
“When an experience contradicts a stereotype, one of two scenarios may happen. The person either rearranges his stereotype and finds a flaw and forgets it completely, or curiosity kicks in and he becomes open-minded and allows modification of the stereotype to take place” (Lippmann 97).
This discussion has used a popular television commercial, to show how stereotypes can be used to shape the opinion of individuals. The effectiveness comes through to support the findings of Lippmann’s research on stereotypes.
Hinton, Perry. Stereotypes, Social Cognition and Culture. New York: Psychology Press, 2000. Print.
Lippmann, Walter. Public Opinion. New York: Filiquarian Publishing, LLC, 2007. Print.
MacRae, Neil, Charles Stangor and Miles Hewstone, Stereotypes and stereotyping. California: Guilford Press, 1996. Print.
Schauer, Frederick. Profiles, profitabilities and stereotypes. Harvard University Press, 2009. Web.
Newman, Leonard. “Was Walter Lippmann Interested in Stereotyping?: Public Opinion and Cognitive Social Psychology.” History of Psychology. 12.1 (2009):7–18. New York: American Psychological Association. Web.
The Hendy Group. “A Dream Car.” For Real Life Online video clip. YouTube. 2012. Web.
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Tracy, Susan. In the Master’s Eye: Representations of Women, Blacks, and Poor Whites in Antebellum Southern Literature. Massachusetts: Univ of Massachusetts Press, 2009. Print.