Gender Stereotyping in Advertising
December 22, 2017
Gender Stereotyping Has Been Prevalent in Advertising For Far Too Long
But the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) in the UK are now changing their codes and want to see a change.
Gender Stereotyping in ads was the topic of a recent phone-in on BBC Radio Scotland that I was invited to contribute to. The story was in response to newspaper headlines in most of the dailies and, like most calls of this type, left me with limited preparation time.
Sensing I might be first up on the interview list, and that the debate would be polarised, I felt I had to be prepared for virtually any question from interviewer Louise White.
I frequently get these early morning calls so the challenge isn’t new. I know the thought of being interviewed on the radio, with limited notice can sound quite daunting, but over the years it has become a challenge I relish.
How to Prepare for Radio Interviews
Feeling confident enough to say yes when a producer or researcher rings is really down to knowing how to prepare. On rare occasions, I’ve been given a few minutes to prepare and the best example of that was in 1989 when I phoned my local BBC station back in England from a call box in Berlin. A few hours before the Berlin Wall had fallen and I was on the spot. Within minutes I was on air and the cal was easy because I just reported what had happened and what I could see from the call box. Simple.
But a call on a complex subject like Gender Stereotyping is different. You have to establish your perspective and be prepared for a myriad of questions.
This is how I prepared.
Step one was to check out the interviewer. The call was going to be on the Kaye Adams programme. I’ve been interviewed by Kaye several times, she is very professional and a delight to work with. Kaye was on holiday and this time I’d be interviewed by Lousie. But Louise is only a name to me, I’ know nothing about her so I checked her out via Google and the BBC site. An interesting thing came to light in the stereotyping context.
On Twitter, Lousie described herself as …….. Broadcaster with the BBC. In Pinn, Liathach ….. & An Teallach Conqueror. Tea Lady for http://www.beatsoncancercharity.org
So I’m being interviewed by a Tea Lady NOT a Tea Person … what form of stereotyping is this? This could be an interesting interview.
Step two .. jot down my immediate thoughts on this story. What do I already know? What examples are there? What is the background etc?
Step three is to read the coverage in the media .. what have they zoned in on that will lead the interview direction?
Step four read the ASA’s site and glean what I can about the whys, hows, etc of the story. What have the media misconstrued?
Step five is to write up some notes. They help me get my ideas in order. I may not refer to them during the call but the process of writing it down helps me focus on the facts.
Interview Preparation Lessons
My research led me to some conclusions ……
The ad that exemplifies gender stereotyping is the 2002 Yorkies – It’s Not for Girls ad. It was the one I’ve used in presentations previously and the one the papers had latched on to. This was 99% bound to be mentioned … and it was.
I was almost bound to be asked for an industry perspective and what industry was doing about it. And sure enough, my prediction was spot on her as well.
The discussion would polarise views and some people would become quite adamant. True to form this happened.
The phone in followed a predictable line. It started with a brief intro and then came to me with a series of questions. I was able to get my point of view over without emotion and had several minutes to do so. Then it went to a caller or two and then another interviewee. This lead to two opposing viewpoints from one of the callers and the other interviewee.
I was told at the outset I could interject when I wanted. But my view is that when you have two opposing arguments it is often best to not interject. To interject would most likely mean taking one side or the other and unless I have a third viewpoint I see no benefit in this. I’ve been called in as an authority and to get into an argument detracts from that authority. I quickly decided that only if the interviewer called on me would I intervene in this particular interview. She didn’t, so I kept quiet.
The outcome of the interview was interesting. A few people I knew had heard it and contacted me. On this occasion that hasn’t yet led to anything concrete .. but radio interviews often lead to contact and subsequent contracts.
The other outcome is the opportunity to write this post and use the content on social media.
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