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Advertising: Tide (Print) GapFill

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C
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The Tide print advertisement is an interesting set product to analyse because of the representation it constructs of women. Back in the 1950s, domestic products such as washing powders and kitchen utensils were heavily targeted towards women while cars, alcohol, tobacco, etc. were targeted towards men. This was a period of economic recovery after , during which women had undertaken roles in industries typically occupied by the men who were called away to fight. In the following years, women were heavily encouraged to return to domestic positions in society and be the housewives of the traditional family unit while men were, once again, treated as the . The representation of women in the Tide advert enforces the stereotypical notion of the time that the most valuable women in society were domestic goddesses who were completely to their husbands.

The principal character’s hairstyle is curled, incorporating rolls and waves in a way that was popularised at the time by Hollywood actresses such as Betty Grable and Rita Hayworth. The character possesses conventionally attractive features and is pouting in a way that emphasises her heavy make-up and bright red lipstick. Furthermore, the model’s slim figure and small waist are accentuated by the selection of clothing. Her short- sleeved blouse is somewhat revealing and yet it also contributes to the stereotype of the suburban domestic housewife. This representation is designed to, and arguably constructed to, appeal to male audience. On the contrary, the character’s short hair tied up in a headscarf represents a dress code that became popular during the war as it wasn’t safe for women to have long hair while operating machinery on farms or in factories. The connotation here is that the character is preparing to knuckle down for some hard work, yet this acts as to the other visual codes, which help construct a more stereotypically submissive representation of femininity.

The ‘Tide’s got what women want!’ incorporates in a way that results in a highly generalised statement. The assumption that all women would be so enamoured by a washing powder contributes to the stereotypical representation of women as ‘domestic goddesses’ that would be heavily criticised if it were to be released in 2020. This is on account of various movements and positive shifts in media representation since the 1950s. However, advertisements like this would be consistently released as part of a repeated pattern of representation that contributed to society’s attitudes towards women. George Gerbner explored this pattern in his theory.

Various other theories of representation can be applied to the Tide print advertisement. theory of representation can be used to understand the ways in which advertisements like this formed a roadmap in which women were generally understood to be wives, mothers and homemakers in Western society. This is enforced by images of women embracing the Tide product and the small comic strip in which two women are shown to be enthusiastically hanging out their washing. theory of identity can also be used to explore the power media such as this has to construct role models for audiences to aspire to. In this case, women of the 1950s were being subtly encouraged to construct their own identities around this image of the perfect domestic housewife. It is also possible that this visually attractive advert encouraged female consumers to its ideology and outwardly perform in a similar manner to the main character. This observation can be made using the theories of gender by Judith Butler.

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