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Affect of Women in Advertisement Essay


Due to advertisement clutter in the 21st century customers are exposed to a variety of advertising appeals that aims to influence their attitudes towards a wide range of products and services. Many companies worldwide are using women as an object to attract and influence consumers’ attitudes towa rds the products they sell. Women appear in huge number of advertisement as a sexual object or as attractive decorative model standing nearby a product, even when the sexual image has little relevance to the advertised product.

This article looks at Jordan ian male consumers’ attitude towards using women in advertisement. Results reveals four factors tend to influence consumer attitude towards using women in advertisement. Culture, control, and emotion were found to have a significant influence on consumer attitude towards using women in advertisement, while there was no significant influence for women appearance on consumer attitude towards using women in advertisement. In general Jordanian male consumers’ were opposed to exposing, exploiting and objectifying the woman and her body in advertisement.


Research on advertisement featuring sex role focused on how content and imagery affect cognitive responses and attitude toward the advertisement, which in turn affect attitude toward the brand and purchase intention (Jaffe, 1994; Leigh and Whitney, 1987). Attitude toward advertising can be defined in general as learned tendencies to respond in a consistently favorable or unfavorable manner to advertising in general (Lutz, 1985; Mackenzie and Lutz, 1989). The link between attitudes, intentions and behavior has been explained primarily by Ajzen (1985, 1988), Ajzen and Fishbein (1980). This theory is based on the assumption that human beings usually behave in a sensible manners where they will take into account information available to them and consider the consequences of their actions.

Thus people are expected to act in accordance with their intentions. The personal factor is the attitude toward the behavior, which is the individual‟s positive or negat ive evaluation of performing the behavior of interest. Whereas the social determinant of intention is the person‟s perception of social pressure to perform the behavior under consideration. People generally intend to perform a behavior when they evaluate it positively and belief that important others think they should perform it.

Advertisements perceived as contentious will not be effective in capturing the attention of people or changing their attitudes towards the advertised products (Michell and Al-Mossawi, 1995). Based on that, it‟s very essential to choose the appropriate advertisement strategies employed in advertising which range from informational to emotional. Among those designed to stir emotions or rouse particular feelings, we can find fear, humor, warmth, novelty, contrast, animation, music, and sexual arousal.

According to Reichert et. al. (2001) sex appeal advertising invokes any message, which, whether as brand information in advertising contexts or as persuasive appeals in marketing contexts, is associated with sexual information. It has long been an accepted belief that this form of advertising is very effective at attention-grabbing, considered by some commentators as a powerful step in reaching one‟s target market, especially in the current clutter of 21st century marketing and communications (Reichert & Lambiase, 2003).

Sexual economics theory (SET) is a stimulating theory about sexuality that combines the idea of gender differences in sexual attitudes with social exchange theory, which S precher, (1989) conceptualize as two or more parties that each give up something with the aim of getting back something of greater value. Much research suggests that sex as an end in itself is less valued by women than men (Baummeister et al., 2001). Ther efore, sexual economics theory posits that women possess substantially greater negotiating power than do men in the context of a sexual exchange. Based on this theory, the current study will focus on men and the way women are used to persuade them in adver tisement to influence their attitudes. Using women in advertisement as a sexual appeal has transferred women to a marketing instrument by many firms. Women are used as a material mostly in advertisements (Bayraktar, 2011).

In many advertisements, the ideal woman is an object that exists to satisfy men‟s sexual desires. Many researchers have shown that women in advertisements are portrayed as sex objects (Baker, 2005). Advertisers feature provocative images of sexually attractive women in ads (Reichert, 2 002). Sexual appeals in advertisements consist of a variety of elements models. Courtney and Whipple (1983) describes sexuality in advertisements as sexuality in the form of nudity, sexual imagery, innuendo, and double entendre used as an ad object for dif ferent kinds of products.

Reichert (2002) reveals that common forms of sexuality in ads includes nudity (dress), physical attractiveness, seductive behavior and interaction, innuendo, and other factors such as setting, context and camera effects. While Lambiase and Reichert (2003) propose that there are five types of sexual content in ads: Nudity, sexual behavior, physical attractiveness, sexual referents, and sexual embeds. Ramirez and Reichert (2000) propose that viewers consider physical characteristics the most sexual in ads and the sub-categories of these characteristics are clothing, attractiveness and body. Table 1 shows the categories of women appearance in advertisements and their meanings in USA.

It‟s noteworthy to say that women misrepresentation in advertisement is a world wide phenomenon. In India, for example, Bag and Roy (2010) bring up various reasons behind unaccept ed representation of women in advertisement, such as poverty where still a number of women, particularly young girls with intolerable economic misery compelled to represent themselves in different forms of uncultured version for survival. To the contrary some rich women’s do it as a hobby, just to get mental or psychological satisfaction through modeling, front page sensational attraction in different popular magazines. Globalization is another factor responsible for misrepresentation of women in advertisement.

Being attracted to western culture, teenager girls have been adopting western style in their garments and manners and hence, they have been losing their own culture and tradition, social values and moral character. Consumerism, which tries hard to inc rease the consumption of people, is another cause of such unaccepted representation. Much consumption means much economic profit which a group of people highly want. Profit maximization has escalated the introduction of women in a number of advertisements of different companies in television, magazine, T.V., Cinema, Newspaper, Cartoons, painting and even in the Internet to attract customers from different age groups. The different types of women representation in advertisement are presented below.

Representation through Television- There is a lot of representation of women in advertisement through T.V. which affect common people and children adversely. It is obvious that visual indecent representation of them has been perverting psychologically all youth.

Representation through Newspaper- Newspaper is another source of representation in indecent manner. Readers from almost all age group are intensely influenced while observing and reading those undesirable advertisements. Representation through Magazine- Similar examples will be cited in several advertisements in several reputed magazines where the honor of women have not only been despoiled simultaneously people are being psychologically endangered. But interestingly, by virtue of human instinct, neither presenter nor consumer is realizing its adverse impact.

Other forms of Representation- There are other forms of uncultured representation which we can find rarely but have both internal and external effects on common people. Despite fewer in number, such representations are noticed in different sorts of paintings, hoarding hanging or fixed in cities and towns, and even displayed in Internet. Painting of undesirable quality is often displayed in cinema hall for greater publicity. Similarly, a lot of painters draw naked or half naked figures, which may have inner good meaning, but it is a matter of question how many people are finding that inner good meaning and how many are taking those adversely.

Research Problem and Significance

Very few studies tries to explain the influence of using women in advertisement based on cultural factors. Researchers have either concentrated on or compared dissimilar cultures, such as the U.S and Japan or they have focused on similarities or differences on similar cultur es, such as Great Britain and Australia (Al-Olayan and Karande, 2000). Many researches explain ads by using Hofstede‟s cultural dimensions or Hall‟s high and low typology and other country specific variables.

Culture dominates communications, such as langu age, traditions, beliefs and music (Al-Olayan, & Karande, 2000). Therefore, the main motivation behind this article is to identify the influence of using women in advertisement on male consumers‟ attitude in Jordan. This study is conducted in a Muslim country where Shariah (Islamic Law) prohibit the use of sexual appearance or body in a way to attract or convince consumers with company products, brands or services. This study is significant for the reason that there is no any study has been done in this field regarding this issue. Another reason for doing this study is to increase our understanding of the Arab societies, and in this case Jordan.

Research Objectives

The objectives of this research are:
1) To identify the factors that may affect male Jordanian consumers‟ attitude towards using women in advertisement
2) To examine consumers overall attitude towards using sexy women in advertisement Theoretical Background

Culture and Advertisement

Marketers need to observe the cultural traits, environments, norms, beliefs, and values of a particular country or region to obtain an understanding of whether their future behaviors will be perceived as ethical (Haque et al., 2010). For example, companies advertising their products or services in different countries should be aware of a country‟s existing norms concerning role portrayals and the way these organizations affect these norms (Gilly, 1988). Clow and Baack (2009) maintained that culture, religion and value system determine the levels of nudity, sexual references, and gender specific issues that are permitted in a country. Several differences have also been recognized across countries for men and women appear in different settings and for different products. Women are more likely to be portrayed in domestic environment as sex objects, while men are more likely to be portrayed being occupied. In Sweden, for example advertisers show men and women in greater variety of nonworking roles than in the U.S.A and Germany and women in Asian countries are less likely to be shown as sex objects (Das, 2000).

Since in many Middle Eastern countries, sex and gender issues are taboo subjects, sexual appeals are not used in advertising and even sexually related products are difficult to advertise (Bryant, 1998). Muslim nations tend to reject any kind of nudity and any reference to sexuality and other gender -related issues. Any hint of sexuality or display of the female body is strictly forbidden. In Saudi Arabia and Malaysia, women must be shown in family settings. They cannot be depicted as being carefree or desirable to the opposite sex.

Marlin (2008) conduct a study on how culture affects advertisement, he used an advertisement showing a sexy picture for Paris Hilton, the famous model wearing a bikini and asked respondents to writ e their reactions. About 27% had positive reactions, 45% had negative reactions and 28% were indifferent. For this advertisement some respondents were confused whether it is an advertisement for a burger or for a car. The results show that different cultures imply different reactions, some of the comments the respondents wrote were: • Unrealistic, bizarre (German respondent)

• It is not about the product, they are selling a lifestyle (Iranian respondent)
• Nice, interesting (French respondent)
• Too much naked skin (1 Ethiopian and 1 Swedish respondent)
• I am discussed, angry and feel fat (Swedish respondent)
• Too naked, too unrealistic (Moroccan respondent)
• Sexistic (Swedish respondent)
• Inappropriate, bad taste (French respondent)
• It is totally unnecessary for the object of advertising (Swedish respondent) Muslim countries are not the only ones with restrictive advertising for sex appeals. Many Christian countries such as Ireland, Spain, South Africa, Mexico and the Philippines have similar standards. 184

While in Canada, France, and Sweden, sexism should be avoided in any advertising directed toward children (Boddewyn, 1991). Based on that, understanding how religious beliefs influence the attitude towards the advertising is of great importance to international advertisers and advertising agency managers in their efforts to improve advertising effectiveness without offending or alienating their target audience. It‟s important to comprehend that Islamic social philosophy is based on the belief that all spheres of life: spiritual, social, political, and economic form an indivisible unity that must be thoroughly imbued with Islamic values.

Advertisement and Women in the Muslim world

The aim of this section is to give an in-depth understanding on the nature and position of women and advertisement in the Muslim world to help and benefit marketers and the advertising producers in the Muslim world to gain a profound understanding of Muslim values.

As a starting point, it‟s important to note that the Holy Quran does not prohibit advertising (Al-Makaty et al., 1996). Some advertisements use religious terminology to reassure consumers of the Islamic integrity of products and services. For example, in a television advertisement, a Saudi Investment ba nk in Egypt had used religious terms to show that it had no unlawful transactions and that all of its financial products Shariah compliant. The use of selected Quranic injunctions and words can enhance the mood of the advertising communication to make it more appealing to Muslim consumers. Luqmani et al. (1989) provide an example of a manufactured water pump that uses a verse from the Quran in advertising. Although it is obviously welcome to keep in mind that the Islamic regulations related to business and marketing, appropriate implementation of precise Islamic terms is crucial.

Contrary to this, a business may face unexpected troubles in gaining markets in Muslim populous areas if some how its advertisements create feelings that are inconsistent with religious sensitivities. In such a context, the most potential and contemporary issues in Islamic markets should be carefully introduced, developed, and offered through appropriate advertising and communication messages which meet the commitment of ethics as gu ided in the Islamic Shariah. For example, the Islamic system encourages moderation in living, while prodigality and waste are denounced. Costly promotional efforts and massive commercial advertisements by businesses are considered unnecessary. Producers of advertisements must make sure that their advertising campaign does not overstep any social or legal norms.

Little attention has been paid on the exposure of advertisement in the Arab societies. Except from investigations in Saudi Arabian ads, there is only one study that has examined the cross-cultural differences in advertising content in other countries in the Middle East and only one study of the portrayal of Egyptian women in television commercials. Luqmani et al., (1987) study focused only on the influence of Islam on advertising content and regulation in Saudi Arabia while Michell and Al-Mossawi, (1999) study focused on message contentiousness among Gulf Co-operative Council countries, and showed that religious Muslims scored lower in terms of recall and were unfavorable towards contentious advertisements relative to lenient Muslims.

The findings suggest that there is a difference in perceived controversial elements in advertisements between a devout and a lenient Muslim. These findings also highlight the importance of matching creative execution and message content to a society‟s socio-cultural environment. Michell and Al-Mossawi claim an offensive advertisement will not be effective in capturing an audience‟s attention or changing his/her attitudes. Both of these studies revealed the importance of understanding the Islamic religion in relation to effective advertising. In particular, Luqmani et al., assert that unconventional advertisements must obtain prior approval from religious authorities. While in Malaysia, Unilever‟s used an ad for Pond‟s skin lightening moisturizer showing a Malay college student using the product for a fairer complexion to attract a boy‟s attention. The ad is deemed offensive to the Muslim ethnic culture (Haque et al., 2010).

In addition to the above mentioned facts, the women‟s status is debated among traditional Islamists, reformist Islamists and feminists, secular or Islamic. The traditional Islamists are clear about the male-female differences and insist on the distinct sex roles. They view women as emotional, sentimental and weak humans whose duty is in the household. The traditional Islamists take every verse in the Qur‟an as a source of protection of women and see women as minors that need to be protected by superior men. In return the woman will nurture the family and try to please her father, brother or son, or whoever may be the head of the household. The woman has a responsibility to maintain the honor, reputation and status of the family. Traditionally, a man‟s hon or depends on the extent on the virginity of his sisters, wife and daughters, and widows divorcees‟ sexual continent. 185

The Islamic reformists believe that the inferiority is only in relation to the woman‟s physical strength and weaker autonomy, thus she is capable of participating in all spheres or public and social life. Modern and liberal reformists are trying to accommodate the Islamic rules with the realities of modern times. The feminist view is a secular movement whose aim is to achieve equality for women. The roots of this movement consider the woman as totally subordinated to the man and that the veil is a symbol of this.

Advertising in Jordan

Jordan‟s media sector has seen significant privatization and liberalization efforts in recent years. Based on official rack rates, research firm Ipsos estimated that the advertisement sector spent some $303m towards publicity in Jordan‟s media, 80% of which was spent on newspapers, followed by TV, radio and magazines. In recent years, Jordan has also seen a spectacular rise in the number of blogs, websites and news portals as sources of news information. The increasing diversification of Jordan‟s media boosted advertising revenues and private initiatives. Recording growth of 30%, 2007 turned out to be yet another outstanding year for Jordan‟s advertising industry.

Following nearly a decade of double-digit growth, the Jordanian advertising had some catching up to do with the rest of the region in terms of average expenditure per capita. Since 2000 total ad spend increased from $77m to $303m in 2008, an increase of 260%. The Jordanian telecoms sector was the biggest ad spender in 2008, accounting for around 20% of the market, followed by banking and finance sector (12%), services industry (11%), real estate (8%) and the automotive sector (5%).

Research Design

In order to measure Jordanian male consumers‟ attitude towards using women in advertisement , male respondents between 18-55 years were selected. The survey instrument included a list of 22 statements from which respondents were asked to indicate their level of personal acceptance on a five-point scale, where 1 means “Strongly Disagree” and 5 means “Strongly Agree”. Statements from 1 -17 was designed to measure factors affecting consumers attitude towards using women in advertisement. Most of the statements were adapted from earlier studies, for example (Al Makaty et al. 1996; Nordén 2006; and Baker, C.N. 2005). While statement 18-22 were designed to measure consumers overall attitude towards advertisements. The statements were adapted from earlier studies as well such as (Usman, 2010; and Ashill, 2005).

Respondents belonging to different demographic groups in terms of education level, marital status and profession were considered in the study. The sampling frame for the study was male consumers living in west of Amman. For respondents‟ selection, simple random sampling procedure was adopted. Questionnaires were filled by the respondents. The total number of respondents was 450. The responses received were 353 (80.5 per cent). Cronbach alpha reliability analysis was conducted for the items included in the study. The internal consistency – Cronbach alpha value for reliability of the questionnaire was found to be 0.74. All items were well above the 0.70, which was the commonly accepted threshold (Nunnally 1978).

Respondent Profile

Respondents from different parts of west Amman were asked to fill in the questionnaire. Table 2 depicts a summation of the study‟s respondents‟ demographic information. As per research objectives all the respondents are male consumers. Of the 353 respondents, 79.0 per cent were less than 25 years of age. A larger number of respondents were unmarried (74.4 per cent) the maximum respondents fell into this age group, since youth is the target market and they are the ones who pay maximum attention to the advertisements. Out of the remaining sample, only 2.3 per cent were above 55 years of age. The remaining 29.5 per cent belonged to the age group of 26–55 years of age. The larger number of r espondents was unmarried (74.4 per cent), and this could be attributed to the young age of the respondent. In addition most of them 78.5 percent were with undergraduate education. The
maximum respondents in the category „profession‟ belonged to the student group with a major share of 68.2 per cent and the remaining 31.8 per cent included businessmen, executives and others. The overall composition of respondents included in the study was young, unmarried and students.

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