Advertising has always targeted specific audiences depending on the product, with the common goal of creating and/or “targeting” in on an audience that would bring in the most profit for a client or brand. Targeting audiences can unfortunately, sometimes lead to stereotyping and profiling. Such marketing tools can be effective when it comes to selling a product, but it does not help our society’s shift to find equality between race, gender, sexual orientation, social status, etc. the list goes on. Because of this, one can naturally conclude that a lot of advertising relies on silver linings due to the chance of bad publicity of crossing the metaphorical invisible line of political correctness. Companies will push and “toe” this line as much as they can, because it is still very effective when selling products.
Recently I came across an advertisement that I was disappointed in due to its obvious gender stereotyping and implied gender roles. I was listening to Spotify and the periodic sponsored advertisement popped up, normally I do not pay much attention to the advertisement; however, this Macy’s commercial advertising their “Super Weekend Sale” did catch my attention, especially since it played off and on throughout this past week while I drove to and from campus. The advertisement starts similar to any Macy’s commercial, having voice actors chat about when the sale is and shamelessly plug some of their featured products and deals. In this particular advertisement, the two female voice actors continued to talk to an unnamed audience about leaving the boys/husbands at home to sleep in, “Let the boys sleep in,” as one of the females put it.
It went downhill from there. As the script went on to detail what the main sale items were, jeans, kids’ clothes, etc. per usual, the idea of getting more ‘winks’ than hours of sleep was thrown in the mix. More specifically, as the advertisement put it, “More winks, or more hours of sleep. It’s a no brainer!” Literally, a no brainer. To me, as a young adult, female, this statement alone implies that we rather get more comments about our physical appearance than more sleep to help recover from working a long week, develop our brain more, since our brains do not fully develop upwards of age 22-26, or just to maintain a good bill of health - essentially anything that would be of our own personal benefit.
Lastly, the script ended with what was meant to be a comedic support, but could be interpreted in multiple other ways. The women in the ad announced that the men in their lives would be forced to take them out to dinner after they got back from shopping as an exchange for extra hours of slumber. “Make them take you out to dinner, they will be fine with their extra hours of sleep” to quote it verbatim. As said before, there closing statement could be interpreted in many way, specifically with respect to the extra hours of sleep comment. One could interpret it in saying that males are lazy, females have less need for sleep, or a variety of other things depending on how deep you want to dive into implications and such. Even if they were trying to give a jab at males being stereotyped as lazy, it does not make this advertisement any more equal. What it does effectively do is put a negative stereotype on males in addition to females. This does not achieve equality, it just puts people in boxes defined as their physical characteristics and reinforces traditional gender roles.
How do I know I will want to buy something from Macy’s as a 23-year-old, nerdy, female? The only thing I do know is that they were probably targeting mothers that needed new Spring clothing for children, a population that I do not fit into. What did I take from the advertisement? While I might not fit into this population, I can deduce that mothers are stereotyped as people longing for more compliments about their physical appearance and are married to lazy men, which they need to baby and must guilt their husbands into taking them out to dinner by telling them the men got to sleep in and the women did not. While some of it might be overreaching to some respect, there is some truth in that common stereotype and it is unfortunate regardless of gender.
Overall, this advertisement could generate both positive and negative responses, but it is probably effective in targeting their intended audience nevertheless as it is entertaining in the most general sense. I will not deny that it did keep me listening and engage me with the light-hearted, conversational nature of the commercial. While this might only be my perspective, I challenge Missouri S&T students to really listen to advertisements and make a point to notice and process what hear and/or see and take note of any overlapping or repetitive themes.