The last few days there is a lot in the media about using stereotypes as
marketing communication instruments. The now infamous Dolce&Gabanna ad
supposedly about rape or gang-bangs (I don't see anybody being raped or
gangbanged in the ad, do you?) is really just about presenting women as
objects of lust (a stereotype) like so many other ads do. Only here,
the voyeurs are IN the ad. The guys standing around the scene are you and me. But they look better in cut-off jeans ...
Stereotypes are just simple ways to say something that everybody
understands. Advertising needs to communicate fast: you only have a
few seconds of a consumer's attention. Stereotypes, as extreme
simplifications, are never 'the truth' (the truth is complex,
multidimensional, etc..). They are part of the mental toolbox we use to
understand and communicate reality. We can use stereotypes as 'the sender' of information, and interpret these messages as 'the receiver'. It can facilitate communication (shared understanding of the meaning of the communication), while neither of us has to BELIEVE that the stereotype is true. I also don't think many people actually believe that. But we DO share the illusion that the stereotypes in such ads might affect other peoples
perception of reality.
As an illustration, here are two other examples of extreme stereotyping in ads. The women
protesting the D&G ad probably think that THIS clip
is very funny. And
the older people might like this -spoof on a- LADA ad
. I got both ads from the BizMediaScience
blog. The characters are presented as least as caricature-like as in the D&G ad. The format is humor, instead of Penthouse-style glamour photography. It is easier to swallow, but no less stereotypical.