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Paper Assignment 2

Gender in Advertising


For your second paper, I would like you to do a gender reading of contemporary advertisements. Your paper can focus on a single advertisement or a comparison of advertisements. For example, your paper could be a comparison of two advertisements for the same product (e.g. car) by different manufacturers or of two advertisements for the same product made by the same manufacturer in two different periodicals. If you do a comparison of ads make sure that your paper does not end up being separate discussions of different ads. The focus should be on the similarities and differences of the ads.

Your paper should focus on how the advertiser has employed the gender codes to market the product.

In formulating your paper consider the following issues:

1. What periodicals do your advertisements appear in? What can you say about the audience these periodicals are targeted for? Define the connection between the product and the projected audience of the periodical.

2. Questions of representation: how is gender difference represented in the image; if the image includes figures, how are men and women represented? Do any aspects of these figures and the ways in which they are represented suggest specifically feminine or masculine characteristics?

3. What is the role of gender in the physical or social environment represented: are these figures depicted as inhabiting a specific social / domestic / private / public space which could be related to their gender? Are the activities included in the advertisements gender coded? Pay attention to details. Remember that every detail is controlled by the advertiser and is included to reinforce the message of the ad.


In preparing your paper, I encourage you to look at the web-site associated with the product your advertisement relates to. In many cases the URL is given directly in the advertisement, but it is easy to find a webpage in most cases. If you have problems, contact me. In many cases all you need to do is add www. in front of the product and .com after: so that the URL for Guess would be This Guess site is a good one since it documents its ad campaign. Notice how many of them are given a narrative structure so that we see the individual ad as just one moment in the larger story.

If you are interested in looking at older ads check out the following site:

There are three different stages or due dates for this assignment. For Tuesday, February 11, you are expected to bring in a selection of potential ads to be the focus of your paper. You will be asked to brainstorm your selections with a workshop group. Tuesday, February 25, you are expected to bring in a draft of your paper to workshop. The following Thursday, February 27, you will be expected to submit a final draft of your paper. The paper should be approximately 3 pages in length.

I have compiled a webpage which includes some ads that students have submitted in the past. In preparing your paper, you should review the web page entitled "A Web Essay on the Male Gaze, Fashion Advertising, and the Pose".