It has been noted that Fast Food TV commercials have biased representation of gender; majorly favoring the males. These commercials promote heteronormative and sex-role stereotypes, which are Packwood and Merskin, argue in their article “Having it His Way: the Construction of Masculinity in Fast-Food TV Advertising” (Packwood, & Merskin, p. 456) to be as unhealthy as the fast food themselves. Most of the fast food TV commercials represent men as heterosexuals, which imply that the fast food ads aimed towards such male members of the society. On the other hand, critics argue that such ads present women as the weaker and submissive sex, who only serves as the satisfaction to men. However not related to fast food ads, some commercials such as those used in the industry have used similar themes. However, these ads have been translated to present violence against women instead of popularizing the products. In Jean Kilbourne’s article “Two Ways a Woman can get Hurt: Advertising and Violence,” she describes how advertising and violence has defined sexism. For a very long time, advertising in the United States and other nations has played a very important role in how people identify themselves in relation to their culture and the other cultures of the world. According to Kilbourne’s article, advertising has now considered bodies as objects thereby normalizing attitudes that lead to sexual aggression. In the article, she cites several examples of advertisements, which she considers to violate the rights of women. For instance, she gives an example of a Diet Pepsi commercial that featured Cindy Crawford as some two young boys ogled her, about twelve years old, as she bought a Pepsi from a machine (Kilbourne, 468).
In “Having it His Way: The Construction of Masculinity in Fast-Food TV Advertising”, an essay by Debra Merskin and Packwood Freeman, they demonstrate how Fast Food Commercials on Television portray eating meat as an important part of male bonding and masculine behavior. In their essay, they confirm this thesis by providing examples of fast commercials such as Burger King, Jack in the Box, Carl’s Jr., and Arby’s commercials, which all portray the same idea of eating meat being associated with men. For instance, in the Jack in the Box commercial, Jack, the company spokesperson, and another executive stand behind a two-way mirror. They watch a group of male test subjects prove that men prefer fast food to other variables, which are assumed to catch their attention as well such as a keg of beer, a motorcycle, two women having a pillow fight, and TV with sports (Freeman and Merskin, p. 464). In their reply to these advertisers, the authors say that “Advertising doesn’t just sell things; it articulates values and builds meaning, sometimes through constructing stereotypes that simplify a complex trait such as gender” (Freeman and Merskin, p. 464).
In this paper, while reviewing the ad on Best Beer Ad Ever: Thirsty for Beer, I will critically analyze its contents to indicate that fast food TV commercials are aimed at promoting heteronormative male gender stereotype. This ad on Best Beer Ad Ever: Thirsty for Beer completely corroborates Freeman and Merskin’s assertion that advertising today promote heteronormative gender roles as well as male gender stereotypes. Additionally, this ad confirms the claims made in “Having it His Way” in several ways: (1) It represents men to love beer and women, which indicates that heterosexual men drink beer; (2) it represents male stereotype through presenting men as mannered and women as seductive. (3) It also presents satisfaction based on gender by indicating that men are not satisfied with their beer until they see the women as represented by the man in the advert.
At the begging of this ad, a man is sitting by himself at the shores of some beach, and while he looks around form the vicinity, he cannot see anybody, or anything. The man in this ad is sitting with bottles of beer in a freezer. He drinks his beers as he gazes around, but still does not see anyone or anything approaching from either direction and from the waters. He drinks his beer one bottle after another and seem to be having fun, though not much of it. However, as he pops open the last beer and sips it once, he is perplexed to see a woman in a bikini swimming and almost reaching the shores. He stops drinking in awe, as the woman walks towards him. The woman then takes off his hat, grabs the beer from him and drinks the beer remaining in the bottle. However, form a close look, the lady is not actually drinking the beer, she is on letting it run down her chest, and then bends down to the sitting man, and lets him lick her chest where the she had earlier run the beer. The man is dressed in a vest, which covers his body so well. However, the woman in the ad does wears clothes that does not cover her body so well, thereby exposing herself to the man at the beach. They are only the two of them at the beach and all the time to themselves. The ad however ends at this point without indicating any intimacy between the man and the woman, but suggesting several feelings on the mind of the viewer. Even though such ads might be argued as lacking the credibility of viewership for young people, it is evident that the product being advertised is not meant for the young people either.
In this paper, I will use previously established literature that discuss the issue of male stereotypes, heteronormative males, as well as gender violence in advertising. Additionally I will compare this ad “Best Beer Ad Ever: Thirsty for Beer” to several other ads that have been presenting similar themes such as the Burger King, Jack in the Box, Carl’s Jr., and Arby’s commercials, which all associate eating meat to heterosexual males. Additionally, I will compare this ad to ads such as Dolce & Gabbana, Calvin Klein, and Duncan Quinn, which are all clothe lines that portray commercials as gender biased on women.
Critical Content Analysis
Just like several many adverts that Packwood and Merskin analyzed in their article including the commercials of the Burger King, Jack in the Box, Carl’s Jr., and Arby’s commercials, which all portray the same idea of eating meat being associated with men, this commercial associates drinking of beer with men. This supports Merskin and Packwood’s assertion that that “Advertising doesn’t just sell things; it articulates values and builds meaning, sometimes through constructing stereotypes that simplify a complex trait such as gender” (Freeman and Merskin, p. 464). As portrayed in this advert and several other commercials, women are mostly used as subjects of the men, and heterosexual males consume products that attach their satisfaction to women. Before the man in this advert consumed his beer, he could not see anything worth sitting on the beach, but as he is almost finishing his beer, and satisfied, a woman appears to help him make merry. This reveals that the fast food commercials favor patriarchal gender roles, which imply that the males are the major targets of these adverts.
On the other hand, some not only portray men as heterosexual and women a subject to their satisfaction, but also sexually violent to women. For instance, in Calvin Klein ad, the company released suggestive images of one woman with three men. The woman was lying half-naked under on the lap of one man, another man bending over her and the other sitting with bare chest next to her (Sanchez, p. 2). The men had their trousers loose and unzipped as the woman lay suggestively (Green, p. 3). Duncan Quinn, who is a well-known suit maker, has an ad that leaves us with question of whether the advertiser intended to show the impression of the half naked woman, or the fully dressed man standing next to her in a suit (Win, p. 3). From this ad, one could ask himself if the woman has been sexually violated or if the man has such intentions (Green, p. 7). The violation even comes out more considering that the man standing next to the woman is holding her with a necktie tied to her neck. Finally, Dolce & Gabbana also consistently markets itself as a nervous brand. It ran an advert in Esquire that it later retracted after receiving discouraging comments from the public. In this ad, the company published one woman lying under a muscular man. She is in the company of four men, with two of them having half-buttoned shirts and the other two without shirts (Wade, p. 4). These commercials also resemble the “Thirsty for Beer” ad since the latter ad also signifies violence against women in a way.
Fast food commercials have always promoted patriarchal gender stereotypes and heterosexism. In most of these ads, the target audiences of the advertisers seem to be the heterosexual males. On the other hand, these ads undermine the matriarchal gender roles and portray women as means to men’s ends. According to Packwood and Merskin, these ads are as unhealthy as the fast foods are because they are inclined towards favoring the males over the females. For instance, in their article, they indicate several commercials including the Burger King, Jack in the Box, Carl’s Jr., and Arby’s commercials, which all portray the same idea of eating meat being associated with men. Just as these ads associate eating of meat to men and plants to women, the commercial used in this paper also reveal that men drink beer, which is associated with women for their satisfaction. Generally, according to “Having it His Way” and “the Beer ad” used in this paper, fast food commercials portray heterosexual males as responsible and heterosexual females as satisfying. This depicts very distinct roles of the different sexes. On the other hand, some ads also present violence against women. Nevertheless, I believe that Best Beer Ad Ever: Thirsty for Beer signifies bother of these theses, but greatly inclines towards heterosexual normative male stereotypes.
Dominic Green. 15 Recent Ads That Glorify Sexual Violence Against women. The Business Insider. May 18, 2013, 12:22 PM
Jean Kilbourne. "Two Ways a Woman Can Get Hurt": Advertising and Violence. Berkeley, California: Free Press, 2012.
Freeman, Packwood, & Merskin, Debra. Having it His Way: The Construction of Masculinity in Fast Food TV Advertising. In L. Rubin (Ed.), Food for Thought: Essays on Eating and Culture (pp. 454-471), Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. 2008. Print
Wade, Lisa. “Rethinking the Famous Dolce and Gabbana Gang Rape Ad” The Society Pages. Web January 21, 2011
Sanchez, Karizza. “The Most Controversial Calvin Klein Ads.” Complex Style. Web September 7, 2013
Win, Sandra. “Disturbing Sexist Ads: Duncan Quinn Suit Campaign Depicts Strangled Woman.” Web December 31, 2008