This advert from Gucci appeals to a male audience and relies heavily on the use of gender in an almost twisted version of reality.
The advert does not appear to be strange however looking at it further it could be viewed as quite sexist as the man as seen as the strong and dominant figure, and the woman as the submissive at his feet. Goffman (1979), describes this as commercial realism. This where an aspect of reality, often small is taken and twisted or amplified. In this case, gender differences. It is a hyper-ritualization of gender differences apparent in everyday life, which means that we do not view the advert as extreme or strange and may even cause us to relate to it.
Gender is used in adverts to portray ideal sex differences even though sex and gender are different. It implies that to be a true man or woman you must look, act and dress as they are shown in adverts. Men are seen as physically fit, having a strong stance, calm but forceful look on their face and are very alert compared to woman who are often portrayed as the submissive who is lying or sitting, seductive and vulnerable. The contrast between the two is quite extreme and a powerful way to sell clothes, as they will make you feel more like a man or woman.
It does not mirror how individuals necessarily act in the real world, but it appears to be mirroring how males may dream and think. They may want to look like the male model in the photo with the perfect body and the female at their feet. It also taps into the traditional evolutionary roles of men and women at an almost unconscious level. Encouraging them to purchase the items being advertised to increase their gender identity.
It is targeted towards more masculine men due to the male physique in the photograph, consequently, masculine men will respond most favourably to the advert as research by Martin & Gnoth (2009), has shown that masculine men respond most favourably to adverts employing a masculine male form than feminine or androgynous one.
In the experiment, forty students rated how masculine nine male models were. Following this, 208 male undergraduates had their masculinity levels assessed and were then given printed booklets with three (one masculine, one feminine and one androgynous) of the male models in. The participants were then asked to make evaluations of the advert (based on the male model) in areas of
- If the advert was positive or negative,
- whether very favourable or not at all favourable,
- How good or bad it was
- If they would definitely consider buying it or would definitely not consider buying it.
To conclude Gucci are using the ideas of gender identity and male fantasy to sell their products, the male fantasy is the extension of gender identity of males being the dominant and powerful gender compared to females.
Martin, B. A. S., & Gnoth, J. (2009). Is the Marlboro man the only alternative? The role of gender identity and self-construal salience in evaluations of male models. Marketing Letters, 20(4), 353-367.