1 Introduction ... 3
1.1 Stereotypes ... 3
1.2 Gender Stereotypes ... 3
1.3 Television ... 3
1.4 German television advertisement ... 3
2 Method ... 4
3 Results ... 4
3.1 Gender ... 4
3.2 Age ... 4
3.3 Appearance ... 5
3.4 Product Type ... 5
3.5 Location ... 5
3.6 Voice-Over ... 6
4 Discussion ... 6
4.1 Gender ... 6
4.2 Age ... 6
4.3 Appearance ... 6
4.4 Product Type ... 7
4.5 Location ... 7
4.6 Voice-Over ... 8
5 Conclusion ... 8
6 Limitations ... 8
7 Aim of the research ... 9
8 References ... 12
Stereotypes and prejudice are omnipresent and therefore influence every person in his or her perception. Undoubtedly, most of us are unaware of this fact. As a phrase from the “Handwörterbuch der Psychologie” states, “The prejudice of our own impartiality is the strongest prejudice of all”( Asanger, & Wenninger, p. 539).
1.2 Gender Stereotypes
Gender stereotype refers to the subjective perception of what a male or female should be or how one should behave. For example, a stereotypic Hong Kong Chinese person would perceive that females should be gentle, sympathetic and shy, whereas males should possess strong personality and leadership abilities (Fung, & Ma, 2000).
Gender roles can change in alignment with changes in society. However, the Arima (2003) study determined that television advertisements in Japan still depicted the old gender stereotype of “men at work and women at home”, even though the rate of women attending college and of women in the working population has increased. Moreover, the younger generation in Japan supports the new gender stereotype of “men at work, women at both work and home”. In the US, television advertisements reflected gender role expectations, as well. Products that are assumed to appeal to female customers are presented exclusively by a female main character. Respectively, products predominantly designed for men, are exclusively presented by male characters (Blain, & McElroy, 2002).
1.4 German television advertisement
Although gender representation has been studied extensively in the US, little is known about the portrayal of gender stereotypes in German and Asian television advertisements. This study proposes to fill this gap by analysing German television advertisements and by comparing the findings to the results of latest studies on gender stereotypes in East Asia.
To conduct this research, we noted fifteen advertisements with respect to the following criteria: Gender, Age, Appearance, Product Type, Location and Voice-Over (Table I). The advertisements were broadcasted during the intermissions of a blockbuster movie on Sunday, February 1, 2004, from 8 p.m. until 10.30 p.m. on RTL. To be consistent, we noted every second advertisement on a table and analysed it afterwards on a chart respective to our criteria (Table II). Single main characters and a couple as main character are referred to as “main characters”. More than two people as main characters are referred to as “hosts”.
The majority of advertisements had one or two characters. Six advertisements had a single main character. An additional six advertisements had either a couple or a pair of friends as main characters. Three advertisements had three or more than three people as main characters or, more precisely, as hosts.
Advertisements with single male characters (4 of 15) or a couple (4 of 15) are twice as common as advertisements with single female characters (2 of 15). Regardless of the number of people as main characters or hosts in one advertisement, male main hosts (7 of 15) are dominant over female hosts (3 of 15). Five advertisements had one male and one female character as hosts.
Generally the age of main characters and hosts was between 20 and 35 years. There were only three advertisements which differed. One advertisement portrayed a male, sixty-year-old senior partner, and another hosted a bunch of male, teenage friends who were about sixteen years old. The third one portrayed several female, sixty-year-old colleagues, working in a food production plant.
Fourteen of the fifteen advertisements showed young, attractive, slim, athletic, healthy and successful characters. A great majority of them were dressed in a fashionable and posh manner. Only the sixty-year-old, female colleagues were dressed in aprons with respect to their work at an assembly line of a food production plant.
3.4 Product Type
Nearly half of the advertisements were related to groceries (7 of 15). The other advertisements were for beer, insurance, perfume, detergent, cell phones, tissue and travels (2 of 15). Surprisingly, food advertisements were presented most frequently by a couple (3 of 7) and, in regards to gender, equally by a male (1 of 7) and female (1 of 7) character or male (1 of 7) and female (1 of 7) hosts. Beer was advertised by two male friends and one female acquaintance. The insurance advertisement was presented by the German, male celebrity Dirk Nowitzky. The perfume advertisement showed a couple. The detergent was introduced by a male character in a laundrette and the cell phones by two male partners. The tissue was advertised by the Klitschko brothers, two German, male celebrities, and the two advertisements for travel, had one single male and one single female character separately.
Unexpectedly, only 20 % of the characters were portrayed outside. Eighty percent of the characters were portrayed inside, for example, in a restaurant, bar, train or apartment. The three outside advertisements were hosted by both a single male character, a single female character, as well as a couple. The only two advertisements that were located in the living room of an apartment, were hosted by male characters both times.