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Gender in Advertisements. Male/Female Perception of one Controversial Romanian Antismoking Ad
Manuela Epure, Ana-Maria Mihali, Raluca Ionela Cretoiu

Last modified: 2016-01-15


The paper's aim is to bring a new perspective on gender perception of the messages developed in the social marketing communication process and related social changes induced to male/female individuals through a specific message's content. Gender segmentation brings useful information and, no doubt, through this the message's creation becomes more oriented. An online pilot survey, of a predominately explorative nature, was conducted among students ,19-25 years old cohort, in order to reveal gender perceptions and incentives towards social behavior changes. The Protection Motivation Theory ,Rogers, 1983, was used to formulate hypotheses regarding the ad theme's impact on the gender cognitions that one intends to influence, namely, behavioral change driven by the ad's visual and textual content. A set of cognitive variables, some item measures were taken from the literature and some of them were developed specifically for this case study, was set up in order to capture the perceptions and attitudes of each gender categories exposed to one particular message used in a Romanian social marketing campaign ran recently. The purpose of this social marketing campaign was to encourage young people to quit smoking and, as consequence, to adopt a healthier lifestyle. The central character in the advertisement is a well-known and beautiful female TV star. Was she perceived as a role model? Related to gender perceptions, the survey has additional objectives such as: identifying the impact of the different components of the message on the behavioral changes, short term or long term, among female or male smokers; analyzing the dependencies between smoking and social status, self-image, desire to attract the opposite sex, positive versus negative message content and how it is affecting the male/female desire to make the behavioral change possible and long lasting. Despite the limits of the online surveys, the answers reveal the fact that a very creative message has quite a different impact on male/female respondents and the desirable social change is affected deeply by the gender profile of the message. Male and female respondents' behavior is often driven by emotions, not so easy to identify and to 'exploit' in the good sense of the word. The paper's findings support the idea of a future, large-scale, interdisciplinary research on gendered social marketing ads in order to increase the effectiveness and to promote the good practices regarding the usage of gender tailored messages in social marketing campaigns.


Gender, perception, attitude, social marketing

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