Female role portrayals in Brazilian advertising: are outdated cultural stereotypes preventing change?

Karen Middleton, Sarah Turnbull, Mauro de Oliveira

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Abstract

The use of female stereotypes in advertising is damaging to women and society. In this study we examine how creative practitioners construct stereotypes within creative decision-making. In an era of brand social responsibility, it is important that advertising supports gender equality by using positive portrayals rather than harmful stereotypes. The study considers the influence of local cultural norms on stereotypes and finds that in Brazil, traditional conceptions of the role of women dominate creative decision-making. Through qualitative semi-structured interviews with advertising creative practitioners, the research reveals their mental models of female stereotypes. Six distinct stereotypes are elucidated: Housewife, Trophy, Sexual Object, Sexually Powerful, Professional and Object of Beauty. These stereotypes shape how females are depicted in Brazilian advertising. The identification of Trophy and Sexually Powerful stereotypes are novel within extant literature. We recommend Brazilian creative practitioners connect better with their female audiences in future by representing them more equitably.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)679-698
JournalInternational Journal of Advertising
Volume39
Issue number5
Early online date29 Aug 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020

Keywords

  • Brazil
  • Gender
  • Stereotyping
  • Creative strategy
  • Mental models

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