Discussion:
Girls and Boys in Advertising
(too old to reply)
Dale
2004-05-20 21:21:52 UTC
Permalink
Slate.com has a fun column called Ad Report Card. The column which
appears about twice a month either comments on specific ads or
advertising trends and conventions. One convention I was always
curious about was the use of girls and boys in advetisments aimed at
adults especially ones which aim to raise adult anxities about the
world or their financial situation. What is interesting about these
type of ads is that they rarely use boys as far as I can tell (I have
seen one that mentions the child is a boy.) Some examples from the
financial planning sector:

Ad 1: In a bright, suburban kitchen the viewer sees three young girls
meauring each other's heights and being very cute about it. The oldest
girl could not be older than 6 or 7. The camera zooms into the height
line and two computer generated marks appear. A narrator in a solemn
voice asks "Do you want to have college paid for here or here?
Financial Company X can help." Company logo flashes on the screen.

Ads 2-4: Come from a different financial company (sorry I can't
remember the companies names) They all feature a very proud and active
person who turns out to be the "financial planner" and not the parent.
The situations are a middle aged man giving a teary eyed speech in
honor of the bride at a wedding, a man in a hospital looking at a
newborn girl and claiming the world for her, and the rarest one
features a woman being overly involved in a little league soccer
match.

Everything in advertising is carefully scripted out and planned. The
advertisersing agencies decided to use girls in these spots because
they felt the ads would create more buisness for their clients than
using boys. Quite possibly the advetisers felt that ads would be
completely unsuccessful if they used boys! The question is why do
advertisers feel that girls are more likely to generate more buisness
than boys? My theory is that on both sides of the political spectrum
people still have a lot of traditional gender conceptions about
raising boys and girls and what they should go through growing up.
(Warning: This is a favorite hobby horse of mine and going to be
rantish)

Society says that girls need to be cuddled , nutured and protected
while growing up. However boys can face all sorts of slings and arrows
in the name of "character building."
I see this as an area where the left's ideals of feminism and gender
equality somehow joined together with the right's ideals of
traditional gender roles. It has invaded all outlets of publc life and
can be seen in pyschology and sociology as well (at least
pop-pyschology and pop-sociology.) There is a plethora of books about
girls in adolescence like "Raising Ophelia" that generate huge media
frenzies and end up on best-seller lists. AFAICT no one had written a
book about boys' problems during adolescence that has generated
similar media attention. Could you see Katie Couric interviewing a
person who wrote a book about helping your son survive high school
because he can't keep up with the cool boys?

Why does society tell boys that they need to sotically grin and bear
their problems in childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood? I can't
think of any answer except maybe: the more things change, the more
they stay the same.
A.C.
2004-05-21 15:48:55 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dale
Everything in advertising is carefully scripted out and planned. The
advertisersing agencies decided to use girls in these spots because
they felt the ads would create more buisness for their clients than
using boys. Quite possibly the advetisers felt that ads would be
completely unsuccessful if they used boys! The question is why do
advertisers feel that girls are more likely to generate more buisness
than boys?
People in advertising tend to be quite divorced from reality.
Post by Dale
Society says that girls need to be cuddled , nutured and protected
while growing up. However boys can face all sorts of slings and arrows
in the name of "character building."
I see this as an area where the left's ideals of feminism and gender
equality somehow joined together with the right's ideals of
traditional gender roles. It has invaded all outlets of publc life and
can be seen in pyschology and sociology as well (at least
pop-pyschology and pop-sociology.) There is a plethora of books about
girls in adolescence like "Raising Ophelia" that generate huge media
frenzies and end up on best-seller lists. AFAICT no one had written a
book about boys' problems during adolescence that has generated
similar media attention.
Christina Hoff Summers wrote _The War Against Boys_ in response to
_Reviving Ophelia_; the former hasn't received as much attention as
the latter, though, but it supposedly manages to debunk some of the
ranker stupidity of _Ophelia_. There's a sort of summary of it at
http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/2000/05/sommers.htm
Bernard Peek
2004-05-21 16:23:31 UTC
Permalink
Post by A.C.
Post by Dale
Everything in advertising is carefully scripted out and planned. The
advertisersing agencies decided to use girls in these spots because
they felt the ads would create more buisness for their clients than
using boys. Quite possibly the advetisers felt that ads would be
completely unsuccessful if they used boys! The question is why do
advertisers feel that girls are more likely to generate more buisness
than boys?
People in advertising tend to be quite divorced from reality.
Au contraire. There are occasions when the customer will insist on
something against the advice of the advertising professionals, but that
is increasingly rare. Agencies occasionally have to remind customers
about them.

These days almost all advertising is tested against a sample of the
target audience before being used. Then it's tested again after the
campaign to see whether it worked, and how well. Quite often advertising
will be tried out on a test market, just one town or city. If it works
it then gets used on a wider scale.

These days the mistakes most often arise when a campaign that works in a
limited area is extended without further testing. For instance campaigns
that work in the USA don't necessarily translate into other languages.
(Soft-drinks don't actually raise the dead.) Again, that's becoming
rarer.

Lots of people believe a) that advertising doesn't work on them and b)
advertising doesn't work on other people. Those beliefs are almost
always wrong.

Analysing advertising should give you an insight into the public psyche.
Any feature that you see in multiple advertisements from different
agencies is there for a reason. That is most likely to be that it
improves the effectiveness of the advertising. Occasionally there may be
an untested assumption by the advertising industry, its customers, and
the random panel of testers. In the latter case it's an untested
assumption by a statistically significant fraction of the population.
--
Bernard Peek
***@shrdlu.com

In search of cognoscenti
Dorothy J Heydt
2004-05-21 17:18:18 UTC
Permalink
Post by Bernard Peek
Post by A.C.
People in advertising tend to be quite divorced from reality.
Au contraire. There are occasions when the customer will insist on
something against the advice of the advertising professionals, but that
is increasingly rare. Agencies occasionally have to remind customers
about them.
These days almost all advertising is tested against a sample of the
target audience before being used. Then it's tested again after the
campaign to see whether it worked, and how well. Quite often advertising
will be tried out on a test market, just one town or city. If it works
it then gets used on a wider scale.
On the third hand, the professionals often show a curious
deliberate blindness to the results of their own testing. E.g.,
they'll drag in an audience to look at a commercial. They'll
give them a questionnaire that begins, "Did you like the
commercial?" and then go on with more detailed questions. Then
they'll throw out all the questionnaires that answer the first
question "no," and try to massage the data from the remaining
ones.
Post by Bernard Peek
These days the mistakes most often arise when a campaign that works in a
limited area is extended without further testing. For instance campaigns
that work in the USA don't necessarily translate into other languages.
(Soft-drinks don't actually raise the dead.) Again, that's becoming
rarer.
I can give you an example closer to home. The California phone
company, Pacific Bell, got bought out a few years ago by the
Texas phone company, SBC. Now Californians get heavy
solicitation from SBC to install Caller ID "so when the phone
rings you'll know who's calling before you pick up the phone."
They don't want to realize that in California the customers can
elect to have Caller ID Blocking; this is a state law. It isn't
in Texas. Enough Californias have Caller ID Blocking (which is
free, to be had for the asking--by law) that very few have Caller
ID--what good would it do? But SBC won't believe it, and keeps
advertising.
Post by Bernard Peek
Lots of people believe a) that advertising doesn't work on them and b)
advertising doesn't work on other people. Those beliefs are almost
always wrong.
Oh, advertising has a powerful effect on me. It makes me want
not to buy what's being advertised.

Dorothy J. Heydt
Albany, California
***@kithrup.com
Cally Soukup
2004-05-21 18:21:48 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
On the third hand, the professionals often show a curious
deliberate blindness to the results of their own testing. E.g.,
they'll drag in an audience to look at a commercial. They'll
give them a questionnaire that begins, "Did you like the
commercial?" and then go on with more detailed questions. Then
they'll throw out all the questionnaires that answer the first
question "no," and try to massage the data from the remaining
ones.
I had lunch at the local McDonalds, which is the only McDs in the
country testing new broiled deli sandwiches. I tried a few of them
and didn't care for them much, but that's because I always end up
wearing the filling in that sort of sandwich. In any case, a woman
with a clipboard offered me $75 for taking a two hour survey
(presumably about said sandwiches). Sadly, I had to decline, as I had
to get back to work.

That's a lot of money to pay to ignore answers, especially when you
factor in the clipboard lady and the data analyst's time.
--
"I may disagree with what you have to say, but I will defend
to the death your right to say it." -- Beatrice Hall

Cally Soukup ***@pobox.com
Pete McCutchen
2004-05-21 21:21:53 UTC
Permalink
On Fri, 21 May 2004 18:21:48 +0000 (UTC), Cally Soukup
Post by Cally Soukup
I had lunch at the local McDonalds, which is the only McDs in the
country testing new broiled deli sandwiches. I tried a few of them
I'd be shocked if that were really the case.
Post by Cally Soukup
and didn't care for them much, but that's because I always end up
wearing the filling in that sort of sandwich. In any case, a woman
with a clipboard offered me $75 for taking a two hour survey
(presumably about said sandwiches). Sadly, I had to decline, as I had
to get back to work.
That's a lot of money to pay to ignore answers, especially when you
factor in the clipboard lady and the data analyst's time.
But that's not about advertising; that's about a potential new product
launch. A new product costs a lot to launch, especially if it
requires new infrastructure. They're not going to ignore the results
of their surveys when that much money is at stake. Not that the
surveys can't be wrong -- New Coke actually does beat Coke Classic on
surveys, and we know how that one came out.

I'll add this about advertising. Despite Bernard's confident
pronouncements, the truth is that advertising has a very marginal
effect. Now, the folks at the ad agencies take on the mantle of
science -- they'll happily produce charts and graphs and
demonstrations which purport to prove the worth of an ad campaign.
But ultimately they're in the business of getting clients to buy ad
campaigns. _Of course_ their "research" shows that it works.

But the truth is that nobody knows whether advertising works, or, if
so, how well it works. And it's something of a truism in the ad biz
that a good ad campaign will kill a bad product quickly. Because
people will buy it, try it, find out they don't like it, and stop
buying it immediately. There are also companies which do very well
and don't advertise at all. Krispy Kreme donuts being a modern
example.
--
Pete McCutchen
Mark Atwood
2004-05-21 21:39:25 UTC
Permalink
Post by Pete McCutchen
people will buy it, try it, find out they don't like it, and stop
buying it immediately. There are also companies which do very well
and don't advertise at all. Krispy Kreme donuts being a modern
example.
Not exactly true. Krispy Kreme advertises when they open a new location.
(Mainly by issuing some press releases, some inserts into local papers,
some posters at existing KKs in the region, and a billboard campaign.)

But they stop the ad campaign after the store is open after it's
"opening sales" are over.

They don't have to advertise any more than that.
--
Mark Atwood | When you do things right, people won't be sure
***@pobox.com | you've done anything at all.
http://www.pobox.com/~mra | http://www.livejournal.com/users/fallenpegasus
Matthew B. Tepper
2004-05-22 01:47:25 UTC
Permalink
Post by Mark Atwood
people will buy it, try it, find out they don't like it, and stop buying
it immediately. There are also companies which do very well and don't
advertise at all. Krispy Kreme donuts being a modern example.
Not exactly true. Krispy Kreme advertises when they open a new location.
(Mainly by issuing some press releases, some inserts into local papers,
some posters at existing KKs in the region, and a billboard campaign.)
But they stop the ad campaign after the store is open after it's
"opening sales" are over.
They don't have to advertise any more than that.
They may have to change their tune soon, because they're reportedly doing
less well this quarter, reportedly due to public interest in low-carb or
no-carb diets. They've sunk to offering their products boxed and sealed at
Ralphs, for example. Somebody brought a couple of boxes of these to work,
and I made a point of not having any.
--
Matthew B. Tepper: WWW, science fiction, classical music, ducks!
My personal home page -- http://home.earthlink.net/~oy/index.html
My main music page --- http://home.earthlink.net/~oy/berlioz.html
To write to me, do for my address what Androcles did for the lion
Take THAT, Daniel Lin, Mark Sadek, James Lin & Christopher Chung!
Cally Soukup
2004-05-22 00:19:45 UTC
Permalink
Post by Pete McCutchen
On Fri, 21 May 2004 18:21:48 +0000 (UTC), Cally Soukup
Post by Cally Soukup
I had lunch at the local McDonalds, which is the only McDs in the
country testing new broiled deli sandwiches. I tried a few of them
I'd be shocked if that were really the case.
I wouldn't. After all, it's not that far from corporate headquarters.
And almost every day a new bunch of corporate types is lurking in the
corners, watching.

Besides, that's what the manager told me. She may be wrong, but I
don't think she was lying.
--
"I may disagree with what you have to say, but I will defend
to the death your right to say it." -- Beatrice Hall

Cally Soukup ***@pobox.com
Tim McDaniel
2004-05-21 20:00:45 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
They don't want to realize that in California the customers can
elect to have Caller ID Blocking; this is a state law. It isn't
in Texas.
I live in Austin, Texas, and I have Caller ID Blocking from SBC.
--
Tim McDaniel, ***@panix.com; ***@us.ibm.com is my work address
Mark Jones
2004-05-21 21:07:43 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tim McDaniel
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
They don't want to realize that in California the customers can
elect to have Caller ID Blocking; this is a state law. It isn't
in Texas.
I live in Austin, Texas, and I have Caller ID Blocking from SBC.
Whereas we (snippy & I) have Blocked-ID blocking. If a call comes from
a blocked number, our phone doesn't ring. We figure that if someone
doesn't want us to know who they are, we're probably not interested in
talking to them.
Tim McDaniel
2004-05-21 21:34:55 UTC
Permalink
Post by Mark Jones
Post by Tim McDaniel
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
They don't want to realize that in California the customers can
elect to have Caller ID Blocking; this is a state law. It isn't
in Texas.
I live in Austin, Texas, and I have Caller ID Blocking from SBC.
Whereas we (snippy & I) have Blocked-ID blocking. If a call comes
from a blocked number, our phone doesn't ring. We figure that if
someone doesn't want us to know who they are, we're probably not
interested in talking to them.
I get a "o/~ doo Doo DOO o/~ The number you have reached does not
accept calls from anonymous numbers" or some such. It's always been
for a person (usually an acquaintance in the SCA). I usually shrug,
hang up, dial *82 to turn off Caller ID Blocking for the next call,
then redial the number. I've not gotten that error from dialing a
business or stranger. If I did, I would think about it.
--
Tim McDaniel, ***@panix.com; ***@us.ibm.com is my work address
Matthew B. Tepper
2004-05-21 20:03:03 UTC
Permalink
I can give you an example closer to home. The California phone company,
Pacific Bell, got bought out a few years ago by the Texas phone company,
SBC. Now Californians get heavy solicitation from SBC to install Caller ID
"so when the phone rings you'll know who's calling before you pick up the
phone." They don't want to realize that in California the customers can
elect to have Caller ID Blocking; this is a state law. It isn't in Texas.
Enough Californias have Caller ID Blocking (which is free, to be had for
the asking--by law) that very few have Caller ID--what good would it do?
But SBC won't believe it, and keeps advertising.
Oh, it's good for something: the telephonic equivalent of whitelisting, for
example, so that you'll know when you're getting a phone call from somebody
you particularly *do* want to speak with.
Post by Bernard Peek
Lots of people believe a) that advertising doesn't work on them and b)
advertising doesn't work on other people. Those beliefs are almost
always wrong.
Oh, advertising has a powerful effect on me. It makes me want
not to buy what's being advertised.
Me too.
--
Matthew B. Tepper: WWW, science fiction, classical music, ducks!
My personal home page -- http://home.earthlink.net/~oy/index.html
My main music page --- http://home.earthlink.net/~oy/berlioz.html
To write to me, do for my address what Androcles did for the lion
Take THAT, Daniel Lin, Mark Sadek, James Lin & Christopher Chung!
David Dyer-Bennet
2004-05-21 19:26:21 UTC
Permalink
Post by Bernard Peek
Lots of people believe a) that advertising doesn't work on them and b)
advertising doesn't work on other people. Those beliefs are almost
always wrong.
Well, I know it doesn't work too well on me, anyway. I look at the
name-brand products I buy preferentially (I don't count any name-brand
product I buy because it was the cheapest that week), and the ones
advertised, and any changes to my buying patterns over the years, and
I see that I'm not responding to the advertising.
--
David Dyer-Bennet, <mailto:dd-***@dd-b.net>, <http://www.dd-b.net/dd-b/>
RKBA: <http://noguns-nomoney.com/> <http://www.dd-b.net/carry/>
Pics: <http://dd-b.lighthunters.net/>,<http://www.dd-b.net/dd-b/SnapshotAlbum/>
Dragaera/Steven Brust: <http://dragaera.info/>
Nels E Satterlund
2004-05-21 19:56:05 UTC
Permalink
Post by David Dyer-Bennet
Post by Bernard Peek
Lots of people believe a) that advertising doesn't work on them and b)
advertising doesn't work on other people. Those beliefs are almost
always wrong.
Well, I know it doesn't work too well on me, anyway. I look at the
name-brand products I buy preferentially (I don't count any name-brand
product I buy because it was the cheapest that week), and the ones
advertised, and any changes to my buying patterns over the years, and
I see that I'm not responding to the advertising.
and in fact I get upset when they twiddle with the products I like to
buy, trying to IMPROVE them.
Bah

Nels
have you tried buying toothpaste lately
--
Nels E Satterlund I don't speak for the company, specially here
***@Starstream.net <-- Use this address for personal Email
My Lurkers motto: I read much better and faster, than I type.
Mark Atwood
2004-05-21 21:28:15 UTC
Permalink
Post by Nels E Satterlund
and in fact I get upset when they twiddle with the products I like to
buy, trying to IMPROVE them.
have you tried buying toothpaste lately
My "toothpaste" hasn't changed in a century.

It comes in a big orange cardboard box, and says "Arm & Hammer".

Works a hell of a lot better than the sweeted soap goo (and it
*is* soap) that most everyone else has been trained to buy.
--
Mark Atwood | When you do things right, people won't be sure
***@pobox.com | you've done anything at all.
http://www.pobox.com/~mra | http://www.livejournal.com/users/fallenpegasus
Dorothy J Heydt
2004-05-21 22:03:39 UTC
Permalink
Post by Nels E Satterlund
have you tried buying toothpaste lately
No.

Some time back I realized that I would brush a lot longer if
no toothpaste were involved (I hate having the foam trickle down
my chin), so now I use no toothpaste and I brush longer and my
teeth are in much better shape.

Dorothy J. Heydt
Albany, California
***@kithrup.com
J?rg Raddatz
2004-05-21 23:29:42 UTC
Permalink
Post by Bernard Peek
Lots of people believe a) that advertising doesn't work on them and b)
advertising doesn't work on other people. Those beliefs are almost
always wrong.
Hm. Of course I cannot rate my own behaviour objectively, but I think
that the most effective ads (for me) are those who inform me if
something new appears and tell me about its properties.) So, when I am
interested and see it in a store I might pick it up and give it try.
Obviously other things like the price (when compared to older,
satisfying brands) are also important.

Ads that somehow lecture me about acting/living right almost always
backfire, at least when they try to sell stuff and maintain that I
have to buy this to be cool/popular/whatever. They annoy me.

Ads that tell a interesting or funny story are fine, but usually I
tend to forget the product they are connected to. Same goes for some
ads with catchy slogans worth remembering. I cannot say that I buy the
stuff more often than I would otherwise, even if I may be more aware
that that stuff exists at all.
OTOH, it was an ad with a bunch of RC cardinals eating pizza and
discussing if consuming so excellent food was a sin that made my
trying this brand for the first time.

Ads that have celebrities telling me how great XYZ is depend on the
way they are done. Many are very odd, especially when people are used
who have no special credibility for the kind of stuff they praise. I
mean, a TV-mystery actor trying to sell me a weatherproof fence paint?
Arnold Schwarzenegger lifting and shaking a fridge and telling me to
buy my electricity from a certain German provider? WTF?

Some ads even manage to annoy me enough that I decide never to buy the
stuff. Infamous example is an ad for a brand of hot dog sausages where
a father teaches his young son to "behave American", including calling
the housewifey mother "hey, baby" and ordering her to bring more
sausages. No, I do not think I want to give my money to a company that
finds this cute.

So, I cannot say that advertising does not affect me at all, but it is
far from "making me buy stuff".

Jörg
Mark Atwood
2004-05-22 01:21:23 UTC
Permalink
Post by J?rg Raddatz
Hm. Of course I cannot rate my own behaviour objectively, but I think
that the most effective ads (for me) are those who inform me if
something new appears and tell me about its properties.)
Thus my opinion that one of the greatest "advertising magazines"
was "CoEvolution Quarterly / Whole Earth Review / Whole Earth Catalog".
A positive mention on it's pages would cause me to actively seek
products and books out.

Unfortunatly, WER has been philosophically dying for the past few years,
and the most recent issue is stuck looking for fundage to get printed.

Fortunately, the "Cool Tools" column has cut itself free, and is
now a blog.

http://www.kk.org/cooltools
--
Mark Atwood | When you do things right, people won't be sure
***@pobox.com | you've done anything at all.
http://www.pobox.com/~mra | http://www.livejournal.com/users/fallenpegasus
Lots42 The Library Avenger
2004-05-22 04:06:03 UTC
Permalink
Post by Bernard Peek
Lots of people believe a) that advertising doesn't work on them and b)
advertising doesn't work on other people. Those beliefs are almost
always wrong.
Advertising works on me. Oreo's bizarre tone-commercial [1] has caused me to
have a low-quality opinion of them.

[1] Father teaches kid how to eat an Oreo cookie. At the end is, for some
unfathomable reason, a sharp, ringing tone. This causes literal, terrible pain
in my skull. Pain is never any fun. [2]

[2] No, not even then. 8-P

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