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Advertisers Should Sell Products, Not Push Agendas

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By this point in history, dear reader, you must surely have noticed that there’s a certain bias against the male gender in advertisements and sitcoms. I don’t worry so much about sitcoms because they’re not coercing me to consider the purchase of a product and no one watches them anyway.

But advertising is a different story. Consider the following scenario: I’m relaxing in front of the idiot box and a commercial starring a couple airs. They could be walking through the park, shopping, driving in a car, whatever. But the woman will be portrayed as all-knowing and wiser than Methuselah, even if she looks no older than 25, while the man will do or say something stupid. He will be belittled by the woman and the commercial will end. And then another will appear, with a stupid man thrown in the mix somewhere.

The ads don’t even have to contain women. Advertisements for alcoholic beverages routinely make men on their own look idiotic. OK, alcohol and idiocy often go hand in hand, but still, why do we never see just how hideous members of the “fairer sex” get when they’re loaded? Furthermore, the guys in the beer or alcopop commercials usually aren’t even drunk yet.

By the end of this barrage, after I’ve been not-so-subtlely told that I must be a hopeless dolt simply because of my gender, I’m expected to seriously consider the purchase of goods or services from companies that have just insulted not just me, but my male family members and buddies.

Remarkably, it’s not just white men who are on the receiving end of this bigotry. If a black couple is portrayed, the guy receives the same awful treatment. This is perhaps the only instance in which you can actually make a black man out to be a dumb-ass and get away with it.

It’s a shame because, in the past, commercials were quite good at taking all the bits and pieces of our daily routine and making light of them. The tricky or annoying situations we so often find ourselves in, regardless of our gender, were being made fun of. It was effective but harmless humor.

Now advertising executives have taken it too far by twisting the logic to make men the constant source of what makes those bits and pieces of daily life so irritating. It doesn’t do women much justice if advertisers think that there must be a man-bashing element to their sales strategy.

I think it’s good and healthy for our society that women are now respected in a way they certainly weren’t 50 years ago. Unfortunately, the live-and-let-die mentality is not being displayed here. Now that they’ve asserted themselves, the feminists in the news, entertainment, and advertising industries have been hell-bent for years on turning the tables and “getting some get-back” with men.

The impact this of insidious attitude on our advertising cannot be denied. Young males watch TV, get this garbage soaked into their brains that there’s something wrong with them, and then grow up to be emotionally deficient, reckless, and possibly self-loathing. Testosterone and low self-esteem do not make a good combination.

This “men as privileged” mindset is bunk. As Glenn Sacks and Richard Smaglick point out in their article “Advertisers: Men Are Not Idiots,” “Yes, men do make up the majority of CEOs, politicians, and powerbrokers. They also make up the majority of the homeless, the imprisoned, suicide victims, and those who die young.” But one can only suppose that’s not a concern to militant feminists in the ad industry and their left-wing, cojones-lacking sympathizers who are clearly given a reason to continue to make fun of men and all that’s wrong with them.

It was believed at one time that men did not care how they were portrayed. But a 2005 study conducted by advertising company Leo Burnett Worldwide found that four out of five men were concerned by the anti-male bias in commercials and found that men suffer from an identity crisis.

In an age where soundbites are crucial, and no one has the time or wherewithal to delve into the logic behind them — especially when it’s erroneous — how people are portrayed is a serious matter. It’s time advertisers put the focus on selling their products, not pursuing agendas or pushing propoganda.

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  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    “But a 2005 study conducted by advertising company Leo Burnett Worldwide found that four out of five men were concerned by the anti-male bias in commercials and found that men suffer from an identity crisis.”

    Really?? That was almost 6 years ago. Still,I’m pretty sure this only affects men who rely on the media to dictate how they live their lives. TV hardly ever educates me about anything important let alone how I feel, socially or publicly, about my character or IQ. My identity is based on my own intelligence & values!

    What we need to do is educate people on how to think for themselves and stop giving attention to these media clowns, “Reality” TV & all!!

  • Mark Edward Manning

    Brian – My identity is based on my own intelligence and values too — and it’s true that you can ignore the TV or the media clowns. It’s not often you learn anything of value from what’s on the tube. Nevertheless, it’s just wrong to have bias in advertising, no matter to whom it’s aimed at.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    “Nevertheless, it’s just wrong to have bias in advertising, no matter to whom it’s aimed at.”

    Mark, you are correct,but,the media has always had bias. Their aim has to be a certain,albeit stereotypical, demographic based on the product. If that isn’t biased then I don’t know what is. Still, unless it supports racism or hate, it falls under Freedom of Speech. They have the right to make shitty commercials, BUT, you have the right to boycott & spread the word. Or, like me, don’t waste the time & move on(thus my comment).

  • Jim

    How did this article which started out making perfect sense veer into a rant against some imaginary “left-wing” “feminist” conspiracy? Men are depicted this way because, apparently, it sells products. That’s all.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Mark, Jim is right. The bias is blatant, annoying and infantile, but advertisers do it for one simple reason: it works. They also know that most shopping is done by women.

    Since most advertising executives and copywriters are also male, it makes no sense that there is some kind of “agenda” or “propaganda” being pushed here.

  • Mark Edward Manning

    Jim and Dr. Dreadful:

    So … it sells. Doesn’t make it right. If you don’t care how you, your father, your brother(s), et al, are portrayed, that’s your business.

    I care. That’s why I “ranted.”

    I’ve got a great idea: Why do we never have another white person appear in a KFC commercial, because we all know that only black people eat fried chicken? But, oh wait, that would be prejudicial.

  • Mark Edward Manning

    Dr. D:

    I’m aware that a lot of ad execs are male, that’s why I called them “cojones-lacking.” Because they clearly are.