Sex in Women's Magazine Advertising An analysis of the degree of sexuality in women's magazine advertising across age demographics and women's responses.
Thesis DisciplineMass Communication
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
On opening women's magazine the reader is bombarded with page after page of advertisements featuring highly sexualised images of women. This thesis explores the use of sexuality in contemporary women's magazine advertising and how women respond to this. A year-long analysis of twelve different monthly magazines, spanning three different age demographics was undertaken. A comprehensive coding schedule was developed, and over 5000 advertisements were analysed in a quantitative manner to determine the level of sexuality. Nearly 500 women took part in an online survey. It was designed to gauge their responses to the use of sex in advertising, as well as the influence of advertising overall. This analysis found that sex is a tool used by advertisers in almost every advertisement that appears in women's magazines, particularly those targeted at the youngest age demographics. Some products, such as fragrances, rely more heavily on the use of sex in their advertising campaigns than others. The women surveyed believed that average and older women are under-represented in advertising. Women tend to recollect advertisements that promote a 'promise' or an idealised lifestyle set in a sexual context. Recollection is, of course, the aim of advertising, so it would appear that the use of sex is here to stay.
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