Reshaping the Man in the Mirror: The effects of challenging stereotypical male portrayals in advertising

University essay from Handelshögskolan i Stockholm/Institutionen för marknadsföring och strategi

Abstract: Norm-breaking gender portrayals in advertising is a relatively new phenomenon. So far, researchers have mainly focused on the implications of ads that challenge female gender role and body stereotypes; a concept known as femvertising, that has been shown to have positive effects on both brands and consumers. This paper aims to examine if similar effects can be achieved through the use of norm-breaking male portrayals in advertising: introducing the theoretical concept menvertising. A quantitative questionnaire-based experiment was conducted with 800 respondents across Sweden. The control group was exposed to a print advertisement featuring a traditional and stereotypical portrayal of men commonly seen in ads, whereas the experimental group was exposed to an advertisement that challenged the stereotypical portrayals of men in advertising. The measured parameters were ad attitude, brand liking, advertising reactance and third- person perception. The study's results imply that brands can benefit from using non-stereotypical portrayals of men in advertising, since menvertising ads were shown to generate positive ad attitude and brand liking. Additionally, the effect on female consumers was found to be substantially larger than for male consumers. The findings suggest that the menvertising-effects on ad attitude and brand liking could partly be explained by the Third-Person Effect and the theory of Advertising reactance.

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