4. Danish advertising – cultural value analysis
4.6. Comments on gender roles and humour
In order to account for the first parameter of description, the coders have been asked to specify whether the commercial shows traditional roles for women and men or if contrary, to explain what is against "tradition". It is well known that the perception of gender role vary from culture to culture, and as such indirectly, from the specification "traditional", some more details could have been inferred. Among women roles identified as traditional are:
women shopping, cleaning, carrying of baby;
independent women, sometimes stronger or more authoritative than men;
women using beauty product and the obsession of aging;
As a non-traditional role has been mentioned women acting as Don Juan in a commercial for cosmetics, but in general the hypothesis of equal distribution of gender roles is confirmed.
Two less traditional roles for men have been identified:
men obsessed about beauty, looking good;
too emotional man.
No specific comments have been made on age roles: children are shown playing (according to the recommendation of the Consumer Ombudsman who set up a guide for advertising directed to children, a commercial will present children only if this is necessary to show the functioning of the product); teenagers are rebel, untamed, some of family pictures considered as stereotypes.
In order to account for the second parameter, the presence of humour, coders have been asked to identify a situation that could have humours effect and eventually to explain it. For some authors the use of humour, jokes etc. is considered a simple stylistic method or even an executional strategies. A series of cross-cultural studies that compared American and British commercials proved a very high and various range of humoristic effect in British advertising while American commercial where rather stereotypical; it proved that humour is rather a cognitive category and a cultural dimension.
The presence of humour is not an executional style, but a component which may or may not be present in a commercial, regardless the executional strategy. It often reveals a general attitude towards the various elements involved in the creation of a commercial: content, message, product, appeals, characters etc. or may be indirectly and symbolically linked to cultural and national issues.
In the present corpus, the presence of humoristic effects has been accounted for 40,17% of the commercials, and again it may be inferred that the high number of commercials related to entertainment audio CD may have influenced the results. Only two cases of the latter commercials have been associated with a humoristic effect, such the reduplication of the main character or the presence of irony.
The sources and forms of the humour are various. Sometimes the product is "the humour" in the subcategory entertainment video. More often is an ironic attitude toward social stereotypes, such lovers, sport fans, professions. A frequent source is the exaggeration of quantity (objects / products overwhelming a personage) or of reactions (extreme emotions, extreme naivety etc.), misunderstandings and the contradiction of expectations. The music also could play a role in de-constructing the meaning of the message: for food products blended with well known lyrics the resultant is an erotic relation to the product. Almost sarcastic irony is connected with attitudes such as conservatism, gang behaviour, and incorrect professional behaviour.
The mention of "irony" and sense of humour as a "national feature" in a previous section is confirmed by the high presence of humour in Danish advertising. An important conclusion regards the correlation of product category and the possibility of humoristic effects. Again it is hard to associated it with an artefact such as music albums, movies etc. without to jeopardize the intended message or expected effect of the product itself. Of course the results would become more relevant if compared cross-culturally. The conclusions reached by different authors who have investigated the issue in other countries would allow to infer that Danish advertising show a very high presence of humour and irony.
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