Academic journal article IUP Journal of Marketing Management

Portrayal of Women in Indian TV Advertisements: A Study of Audience Perception

Academic journal article IUP Journal of Marketing Management

Portrayal of Women in Indian TV Advertisements: A Study of Audience Perception

Article excerpt


Advertisements play a significant role in communicating messages. Bovee et al. (1995) define advertising as the "non-personal communication of information usually paid for and persuasive in nature about products, services or ideas by identified sponsors through the various media." Advertisements articulate different ideas, attitudes and values which shape our social life and consumption pattern. "It articulates meaning to the words and images, though it depends on how we interpret them" (Asemah et al., 2013), which subsequently generates the need of the product in human mind through its soft sell strategy.

Advertisers, to make their advertisements seem desirable, often tend to associate their product with an attractive image which most of the time is a woman, who provides the desirable image for the advertisement, irrespective of her relevance to the advertisement or the product. Nowadays, women have became an integral part of the advertisements, be it the advertisement of alcohol or automobiles. Advertisers feel that the advertisement endorsed by beautiful women accelerates the chance of making it imprintable on the mind of prospective buyers. Some lambast such advertisements as an answer to the prurient desire; others call it an expression of beauty. The reactions vary, but undoubtedly, the role of women is becoming indispensable in the advertisements, both as the consumer and as the influencer. Thus, it is essential to explore their portrayal in advertisements.

Most of the studies on portrayal of women in advertisements (Courteney and Lockeretz, 1971; McArthur and Resko, 1975; Goffman, 1976; Kang, 1997; Lundstrom and Sciglimpaglia, 1977; Lysonski, 1983; Furnham and Mak, 1999; Kilbourne, 1999; and Kim and Lowry, 2005) are in the western context. Ford et al. (1998) and Das (2000) have found that portrayal of women in Indian and other Asian nations' advertisements differ from those of the western advertisements because of the cultural values, beliefs, norms and religion. It will not be fair to generalize the results. In the Indian context, the number of the studies on this issue is very few and most of them target the Indian print advertisements and focus on content analysis of the advertisements. Only a few studies in the Indian context examine the response of the audience on the portrayal of women in advertisements, Dwivedy et al. (2009) try to explore the responses of the younger group on magazine advertisements and find differences on the basis of the gender. Sukumar (2014) has worked on the general perception of the audience; she does not try to explore the perception difference among the audience. As depending on the variation of age, education, occupation and gender, audience will respond differently to the same communication content in advertisements (DeFleur, 1970).

Though advertisements have many forms from billboards to television and Internet advertisements, television advertisements have a very powerful impact with wide coverage. It creates an environment that seems real through careful blend of verbal and visual components. As the advertisements are repeated throughout the day it makes a lasting impression on the viewer's mind. This paper mainly focuses on the television advertisements and tries to explore how the audience perceive the depiction of women in advertisements. The present study not only tries to explore the audience response about the portrayal of women in TV advertisements, it also tries to find the differences among the audience on the basis of their gender, age and education. It covers a wide age group ranging from 18 years to above 50 years which increases the significance of the study.

Literature Review

Portrayal of Women in Advertisements

Earlier, women were considered as the weaker sex and dominated by their male counterpart. She was hardly encouraged to cross the threshold of home and her desires were restricted within the boundaries of four walls. …

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