Television Advertising ... reinforcing gender roles in 2012

I recently started a new job working graveyard on weekends. While I'm working, I have the TV running in order to help me stay awake. I haven't sat and watched TV for ages, and so I was a bit shocked at the content of some of the advertisements that played.

Newcastle Brown Ale: "Brewer"

This ad shows someone's hands, picking out hops, making beer, etc. explicitly avoiding showing the head and face that belongs to them. Then, they end by saying: "Why do we focus so much on our brewmaster's hands? ... Because she's not an attractive woman."

I can see what they were trying to say here, but it came out very wrong. In effect, were they saying that the only reason to show a female on screen is if she is attractive? If she's just average, her face better not show? If she was a guy, they would never have finished the ad with "because he's not an attractive man," that would have been ludicrous!

A Dream Car. For Real Life (Kia)

This ad starts with a couple sleeping in bed, and "the sandman" comes to give them good dreams. The guy dreams that he is in a 2012 Kia. There is a super-hot flag girl who starts the 'race.' When he flies past, she looks after him with a look of complete adoration. He drives his car around really fast, and sleeps with a huge smile on his face.

I can't find the exact commercial that I watched, and my network is bugging out on me, making it hard to search for. The message behind this ad is that if you drive this car around, women like the one in the ad will think you're amazing. In reality, Kias are not very impressive cars, sorry guys :-)

Dr. Pepper 10, Not for Women

A man runs through the jungle with bullets flying, jumps off a cliff, yelling, "hey ladies, this movie's not for you! 23 flavors in ten MANLY calories."

This one is blatant in its message, 'this is MANLY diet soda.' No explanation is given for why it's only for men. It has ten calories instead of zero in diet Dr. Pepper. If diet soda is for women, and Dr. Pepper Ten is for MEN, then .. who in the world drinks regular Dr. Pepper (with its 100 calories)?

There were a bunch of cell phone ads that I'm not going to bother searching for, but had messages like - use this phone and you'll impress the ladies who will call you for a date. Use this phone to look up pictures of hot cheerleaders, etc.

Now, I'm not saying that using sex in advertising should be eliminated - it works, that's why it's used. But, what we watch has a huge effect on how we think, what our social norms are, and how we treat other people.