Iconographywhich is a form of advertising where there is overt depiction ofsexuality in the promotion campaign. A succinct example is the ad forthe Haagen-Dazs Ice in the United Kingdom, which was been adaptedinto a social practice by a group of women, where it was implied thatthe portrayal of sexuality in the promotion would allow women in thecountry to talk about their desires with more ease through theconsumption of advertising meaning and it relevance as a culturalcommodity (Elliott 122).
Avital contemplation of the nature of consumption and adaptation ofproduct promotion (advertising) as a cultural commodity is thecapacity of the recipient group to coin and twist the connotation inthe advertising message in order to attain correspondence withself-image. Hodgson and Elliot (1993) illustrates how consumerssubvert the intended connotations subjectively based on their ownself –assemblance, indicating the capacity and ability of theconsumers to denote commodity symbols in modified, inadvertentdirections (Elliott 122). While examining it at the community level,Maffesoli (1996) illustrated there was creation of post-moderntribes based on a collectivity of aesthetics, where the socialcharacter of emotional experience constitutes the tribe (Elliott122). In this light, the principal element in the socializationprocess is the shared experience of the consumption observable fact-in this case, the advertising.
Nonetheless,the command of advertising to persuade consumers through restraineddogmatic manoeuvres cannot be understated. Even though the power andinfluence of promotion through advertising is often acknowledged andopposed by the consumers, it ideology prompts ‘enlightened’ falseconsciousness in the minds of the consumer as a way of recognizingthis consciousness while at the same time maintaining itsphilosophical command (Elliott 122). As a consequence, such forms ofadvertisement pull off a semantic ‘double bluff’ by slipping incriticism. By being ‘reflective,’ a given advertisement canseparate itself from the highlighted influence of promotion and indoing so augment its philosophical clout to its own influence(Elliott 122).
Portrayof Women in Ads
Invarious strategic places all around our cities there are variousphotos on Billboard advertisement of artists and celebrities. One ofthe salient features of most of this form of advertisement is the useof female bodies in the advertisement. In all places, the billboardsshow the same visual code irrespective of the brand, company orproduct being promoted or sold (Shields &Dawn 170).One of the most conspicuous features that is visible to any person isthat the number of billboards featuring female artists or celebritiesfar outnumber those that feature men (Shields &Dawn 172).The way that women are portrayed in these billboards is the mainingredient that creates a platform from where women can be in aposition to express their desires with more ease. The women in thesebillboards are depicted as flawless, possess delicate young bodieswith lithe and posing in a seductive way (Shields& Dawn 176).Exhaustively polished and airbrushed, their faces and bodies portrayplastic-like quality. The facial expressions consistently depictsensual ennui or extreme affability. In short, in these advertisementwomen are simply reduced to passive objects of lust.
Incontrast, the advertisements that feature men portray a differentfeature. Many of men in the ads are average looking, their ages varybetween 20-50 years, some have visible wrinkles, and some haveblemishes, stubble and are consistently depicted in active roles(Shields & Dawn 173).In this light, their bodies are under no examination, although suchimages exude virility, strength and a career free attitude.
Cosmeticsurgery, skin lightening among (black community) among otherpractices are specifically designed to assist women attain hegemonicstandards of the feminine splendor. It is all too evident that thechoices (diet, fashion eating, exercise and makeup) that women aremaking are substantially informed by hegemonic cultural norms(McGaughey 815). It also clear that women are not being coerced bythe society to attain cultural standards of splendor, but it is amanifestation that most women are not only active consumers of theprevailing texts in ads but are also active interpreters. There is adirect link in the way that women are depicted in the advertisementsand the way that they view themselves and expect to be treated(McGaughey 815). The main factor that has made men appear moredominating than women in most of the advertisement in our mediatoday, can be linked to the fact that we live in a hegemonic society(McGaughey 816). Our society has accepted the commoditization ofwomen as sex objects as a normal phenomenon. Since women are oftenobjectified by men in print and electronic media on a regular basis,it has become a common phenomenon (normal) in our society for men tohave power over women.
Itis evident that women can attain freedom of action and maintain anintegrated self. Specifically, it is apparent that advertising is apopular form of art which mirrors a ‘way of experiencing’ thatcan allow individuals to derive the cultural meaning for experiencesthat are already in existence in the society. This relates to theaesthetic theory put forward by Adorno (1984) that give art afetishistic standing that accords it independence against the threatof commodification and may empower the individuals in the society torefute the dominant meaning. It also concurs with De Certeauproposition that audiences are not passive consumers but activeinterpreters. Iconography advertising and is an example of hegemonicpower in relation to gender. It is clear that even tough cosmeticsurgery may be empowering women it is also reinforcing the hegemonicideals that subjugate women as a group.
McGaughey,D. Patricia. University of Louisville Designing Women: CulturalHegemony and the Exercise of Power among Women who have UndergoneElective Mammoplasty. Genderand Society, 2002.Vol.16 No. 6: 814-838.Available at:http://people.stfx.ca/accamero/gender%20and%20health/other%20readings%20avaliable/other%20readings/designing%20women%20cosmetic%20surgery.pdf
Richard,Elliott. "SpecialSession Summary Advertising and Popular Culture: Textual Poaching OrHegemonic Gamekeeping?",in E – European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 3, eds. Basil G.Englis and Anna Olofsson, Provo, UT : Association for ConsumerResearch. 1998.
Shields,Vickie R, and Dawn Heinecken. MeasuringUp: How Advertising Affects Self-Image.Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001. Internetresource.