Literature Review

Mass media in general and advertising in particular reach millions of people. The messages they carry are therefore immensely influential (Kim & Lowry, 2007). Some of these messages may be solely constructed for entertainment or recreational purposes; nonetheless, mass media messages change people’s opinions, attitudes and beliefs (Wolska, 2011).
Gender roles in advertising are an instance of stereotypically laden messages (Beltra & Llaguno, 2012). Women have been stereotypically reduced to four roles: the femme fatale, the sexy kitten, the supermom or the nasty villainess (MediaSmarts, n.d.).
The origin of these gender stereotypes lies in society’s patriarchal values. Since the earliest days of civilizations, men have assumed the roles of head of the household and bread-earner while the roles of women has been confined to that of housewife (Wolska, 2011). Even though these differences are now smaller, advertising continues to disseminate these roles. One reason for this persistence is the universality of this message (Knoll & Eisend, 2011). Because advertising messages reach large number of people, easily retainable messages that speak to everyone are preferred. Advertising laden in gender-stereotypes is one example.
Recently, several messages have tried to break this trend. The most significant example is the Dove campaign promoting women with curves (Howard, 2005). Such attempts have been more rare in the Arab world, mostly due to the dominance of men in decision-making positions in advertising and marketing agencies (NOW., 2011).
I chose to analyze six Lebanese ads depicting women in a stereotypical fashion. These ads are all print ads, posted on billboards in the greater Beirut area and coastal area. They pertain to households products, cars, and food brands.

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