IN TERMS OF CHANGING BEHAVIOUR WITHIN ADVERTISING WHICH BRANDS/COMPANIES ARE LEADING THE WAY? Fig 1, Eye-Makeup Application, December 2013
Sophie Gould N0421241 Fashion Communication and Promotion FASH20031 Module: Communication and Message
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Introduction Methodology History of Advertising What is the Issue? Primary Research Leading Brands How Can We Change The Way in which notions of beauty/ role models/ identity are communicated in the future? Consumer Profile How Can We Change The Future For The Next Generation? Conclusion Appendix A Appendix B Appendix C Figure References References Bibliography
Word Count : 2740 words
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On average each individual is exposed to somewhere between 250 and 3000 advertisements each day. This includes TV viewing, radio listening, newspaper and magazine reading, using the Internet and transport use. (Hady, 2013). Advertising began in the seventeenth century through word of mouth and newspapers and was on a much smaller scale than it is today. (Mediaknowall, 2012). It has dramatically increased in creation and exposure to consumers, but advertisers may be unaware of the misleading images they send out to us each and every day. The aim of the first part of this investigation is to find out who the market leaders are within advertising and to uncover the truth about a perfectionist media world dominated by weight stigma and sizeism (prejudice or discrimination on the grounds of a personâ€™s size).
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Methodology For my primary research I created a survey on surveymonkey.com on 05/01/14 and advertised it on Facebook. I received 25 responses. See Appendix A for details. I also carried out a focus group on 03/01/14 (see Appendix B and C for details) with eight female participants aged between 19-21. However, by using participants from such a small age range (I was only able to find people to take part in second or third year of university) it limited my scope of analysis.
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History of Advertising
The concept of creating a ‘perfect’ person for your advertisement to associate your brand or company with began in the 19th Century. This idea of lifestyle branding began with Thomas J. Barratt who was the chairman of the soap manufacturer A&F Pears and a pioneer of brand marketing. He has been called “the father of modern advertising”. (Coates, 1908). He created one of the first advertising campaigns. With this he wanted to associate his brand ‘Pears Soap’ with people of class and aimed to show the brand to be of high quality and culture. His first advertisements were a series of adverts of middle class, beautiful children amongst his soap, which assumed notions of high society. This can be seen in Figure 2 where the children appear well presented and clean. This advertising tactic of stressing the importance of a strong and exclusive brand image is an approach that is very successful in modern global advertising. (Coates, 1908). The ‘Pears Soap’ approach to advertising has meant that over the past two centuries many leading brands in society have followed one another in their regimented idea of advertising. This has meant that they have stuck to the ‘the Herd’ behavioural theory –research to explain the phenomena of large numbers of people acting in the same way at the same time. (Neitzsche, 1878) and bowed to pressure to only advertise the thinnest or most attractive models within their brand or company. This can be seen in advertisements for many designer brands, e.g. Dolce and Gabbana (see figure 3).
Fig 2, Pears Soap, 19th Century
Fig 3, Dolce and Gabbana, 2013
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Figure 4 backs up the Herd theory in proving that advertising has been this way for a long time. This advert for Revlon from the 1960’s shows that even fifty years ago, Revlon still advertised the thinnest or most attractive models.
“IN A 1985 STUDY BY DOWNS AND HARRISON THEY ANALYSED OVER FOUR THOUSAND TELEVISION COMMERCIALS AND FOUND OUT THAT ON AVERAGE, ONE OUT OF EVERY 3.8 ADVERTS INVOLVED THIS ATTRACTIVE STEREOTYPE IN SOME WAY
Figure 4, Revlon, 1960
They highlighted the significance of this situation when they commented, “attractiveness stereotypes have permeated virtually the entire television advertising market, making television commercials powerful sources of the attractiveness stereotypes”. (Downs and Harrison, 1985). Using the ‘Pears Soap’ approach of advertising and associating only the most beautiful types of people, advertising has shaped societies stereotypes, as we all have been led by the belief that model attractiveness “sells” and we, in our ‘herd’ mentality, buy. This can be seen by results from a (A.T.Kearney, 2012) study on global spending for goods and services who forecast a rise from $28 trillion real US dollars in 2010 to an estimated $40 trillion in 2020.
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What is the Issue? Sizeism is a cultural, social and global issue within advertising. The leading brands are often successful because they refuse to change their ideal of how we should view the brand so people become familiar and are not scared off by adjustment. If they want the consumer to see them as a brand only for the super slim they will not start producing diverse advertisements using plus size models. Size defines guidelines for the visual aesthetic zeitgeist of this modern era. In an age dominated by social media and a time in which 36% of social media users post brand-related content we are fed image after image of photo shopped, unrealistic advertisement. (See figures 10&11 on P13) (Pring, 2012). In this essay I set out to compare which brands lead the way within size diversity and which brands still refuse to change.
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Primary Research Before beginning to explore in depth who the market leaders are in terms of changing behavior I ran a survey on surveymonkey.com to find out what the public thought of current brand advertisements. (Refer to Appendix C). I asked six questions and received a response from twenty-five anonymous people. Fourteen people were between the ages of 18-20, seven between the age of 21-29, one person between the ages of 30-39, two people between the ages of 40-49 and one person between the ages of 50-59. This wide age range and using an online anonymous survey allowed me to record a plethora of results from people who were not being paid to take part and did so of their own accord. I started by asking how often they read newspapers and magazines, which provided very mixed results. When posed the question ‘Do you think there is a problem with advertising and brands only using the best looking models’ the results were closely split with thirteen saying yes and eleven saying no. Figure 5 shows these results. Do you think that there is a problem within advertising and only using the best looking models?
The next question asked if they felt pressured by adverts to look or act a certain way. Similarly the results were divided with ten people saying yes and fifteen saying no. However when posed with this open question – ‘How do you think advertisers could change they way they communicate role models in the future?’ the results were very similar, but unfortunately only sixteen of the twenty- five participants responded. Some of the answers included phrases such as “Less about looks and weight and more about talents and achievements/ Different body types/ Use models of realistic weight” etc. Finally I asked if they felt there was enough diversity within model size with advertising. Twenty- four people responded, six said yes and eighteen said no. From examining the results of the survey it is clear that the majority of participants felt that the advertising industry is extremely sizeist and that a lot more can be done in the future to change our notions of beauty/role models and identity. However, I recognise that this survey has limited scope due to the small number of respondents and the imbalance of ages.
Fig 5. Survey Monkey 2014
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Leading Brands One of the brands that lead the way within change in the industry is Dove. They are a beauty brand, which sell hair care products, soaps, deodorant and skincare products. They have a positive vision within their brand code to ‘help the next generation of women develop a positive relationship with the way they look - helping them raise their self-esteem and realise their full potential’. (Dove, 2013). In terms of changing behaviour they are almost revolutionary shunning all norms of featuring skinny, perfect models in their adverts stemming from the Thomas J Barratt theory and changing how we see advertising campaigns. Dove aims to seriously alter a shocking statistic that only 4% of women in the world consider themselves to be beautiful. They use social media and ‘projects not campaigns’ to try and change the idea of role models, beauty and identity in the world. Dove currently runs a self-esteem project which leads the way within changing behaviour in advertising, as they are not just a brand trying to sell their product, but they also want to help people. The (Dove Report, 2004) found that women around the world would like to see the media change in the way it represents beauty. Therefore, they run self-esteem building workshops which anyone can take part in, and in my opinion this is revolutionary in terms of changing behaviour, as the brand has become three dimensional in personally interacting with their consumer rather than through the radio, television or advertisement. Figure 6 shows children taking part in a self-esteem workshop.
Fig 6, Dove Self Esteem Workshop, 2013. Which brands are leading the way? 9
In 2001 a study was undertaken to see if the relationship of advertising model attractiveness and body satisfaction correlated. The results suggested that there is a strong association between the level of a subject’s body satisfaction and the use of models in advertising as a basis of comparison by the subject. (Harrison,Juric, Cornwell, 2001). Dove has understood this idea and they feature models of all skin colour, shapes and sizes to lead the way with diversity amongst advertising. Dove’s campaign for real beauty features women who some might consider flawed and others might consider beautiful. Figure 7 shows an older lady, some might consider her to be wrinkled and some may consider her to be wonderful.
Fig 7, Dove, 2012.
I showed one of the Dove adverts (fig 8) to a group of eight girls (a small focus group) with ages ranging between 19-21. They all filled in consent forms beforehand to make sure my results would be ethically sound and I wrote out all the questions before so I would not be tempted to go off topic. During Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty”, an overwhelming 81% of women strongly agreed that “the media and advertising set an unrealistic standard of beauty that most women can’t ever achieve” (Etcoff et al, 2004). I wanted to see if my focus group would produce similar results.
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Fig 8, Dove, 2012. The responses to the advert really surprised me. I wanted to produce some real insight into other womenâ€™s opinions of non-sizeist adverts. I expected them to be quite cynical but they all responded extremely positively to the Dove advertisement. Examples of comments include: â€œ Makes me want to buy the product/ appeals to a wider audience/ makes me feel more confident in my body shape/ beautiful women/ confidence shines throughâ€?. They all seemed to find the Dove advert something new and revolutionary in terms of changing behaviour within brand advertising. When I asked if they would like to see more brand or company adverts which featured women of all sizes all eight of them said yes. From the focus group session, it appears that the Dove advert has been very successful. As a student in the field of communication and promotion I believe it is extremely important in an age of body dysmorphia, eating disorders, and perfection translated onto social media to produce adverts which make us all feel comfortable from a young age, so the next generation can see a change in how we view beauty. Full details of the focus group are on the last page of this essay in Appendix B.
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Conversely, brands like Abercrombie, Lululemon and Victoria’s Secret, all American brands that sell like-minded casual or sportswear clothing rise in popularity whilst their idea of diversity diminishes. They use social media such as Instagram (Abercrombie, Lululemonamerica and Victoriassecret), Facebook, Twitter and Vine to reach a social audience of nearly 5 million people between them. They are well known for the being the most sizeist brands out there aiming to reach an audience no bigger than a UK size 12 or USA size 6. They do not stock any larger than a large so that anyone above these sizes cannot buy their products. Victoria’s Secret hold a project yearly where they advertise their swimwear line on a catwalk with only the most elite, skinniest and beautiful models in the world. In the second part of my focus group I asked the girls what they thought of these brands and the results were enlightening. Answers ranged from: “When I watched the Victoria’s Secret show I wanted to kill myself ”, “depressed, fat, ugly, never going to look as good as the models they advertise”, “demeaned and belittled”. However, they all agreed that they shopped there. When I asked why they shopped there if they felt that way, their response was similar. Answers included – “If I didn’t I worry people would judge me”, “It is cool to shop there”, “I aspire to look like the girls they feature in their adverts etc.”. These results surprised me as a communication and promotion student. Why do these girls shop at these brands if the adverts make them feel so bad about themselves? The packaging, marketing, visual merchandising and social media all have a role to play in why people purchase from these companies.
One of the leading clothing brands in the world is H&M. They have over 104,000 employees with an aim to increase the number of stores each year by 10-15%. (H&M, 2012). They have a huge social media following with thirteen million fans on Facebook and 2.5 million followers on twitter so they have a responsibility as a brand to their wider audience. They currently own an umbrella of brands which include Cos and & Other Stories. They produce a range of lines, which include a designer brand x H&M, H&M Conscious and most recently in 2012 – Beachwear+. Beachwear+ is a beachwear line for plus sized women but the company has refused to name it ‘plus sized’ to promote the use of women with healthy proportions. They have used the US model Jennie Runk, a healthy size 12 to promote their swimwear. On the H&M website, they have received huge praise by consumers with comments such as- “I love seeing a girl with my body type not only represented on your website, but represented without fanfare” and “I think it send a positive message about inclusivity and chaining standard and beauty’. (Saunders, 2013). Figure 9 shows Jennie Runk looking natural and beautiful. Which brands are leading the way? 12
Fig 9, H&M, 2013 When considering the success of this brand advertisement my opinion is somewhat divided. In some respect, yes it is amazing to use a plus size model, perhaps even revolutionary in high street terms. But, using one plus size model does not mean that H&M will stop using painfully thin models in their regular adverts. In 2011, a Swedish online retailer noticed that all the swimwear models had identical bodies in the advert. Only then did H&M admit that the images were not real and had in fact been doctored on a computer. Figure 10 and 11 clearly shows how they simply have altered the skin tone of the models to match their faces.
Fig 10&11, H&M, 2011
As a student in communication and promotion I am concerned about the future, but perhaps using Jennie Runk, two years since the previous swimwear incident means H&M are taking a step in the right direction. Which brands are leading the way? 13
How can we change the way in which notions of beauty/role models/identity are communicated in the future? Having considered how beauty, role models and identity are currently communicated through brand advertisement, it appears a lot more can be done to change the way brands and companies advertise in the future. Firstly, we must consider the consumer who would be most receptive to this change and who this would benefit the most. In my opinion, the most receptive person is a female child. This is someone just starting to become exposed to these images, aware of magazines and newspapers and social media. In a report on speech and language development it appears that children between the ages of 3-5 are most receptive to new information. (Shonkoff, 2003). When a child begins school at five they become aware of other children, their parents, teachers etc. This is where they are pre-conditioned to have an opinion of peopleâ€™s size. If one child says another child is fat or their mother is fat, that is what the other child believes. This idea stems from psychological behavioural studies such as social learning theory and behavioural analytic theory of change. (Bandura, 1963). This is when imitation and reinforcement play crucial roles in these theories and children grow an assumption of what is beautiful and what is not. Therefore I believe we should target children a few years after this when they are mature enough to understand notions of beauty, role models and identity.
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Consumer Profile I have created a consumer profile of someone who I believe will be most receptive to this behaviour change within advertisement.
Name: Emily H Gender: Female Age: 9 School: Year Four at Primary School X
Fig 12. Julie Poppen, 2012
About: Emily is in Year Four at primary school. Emily has many friends - boys and girls, attends brownies and often goes to after school classes such as ballet, piano lessons etc. Emily is extremely susceptible to the media, advertising and role models.
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How can we change the future for the NEXT generation?
I would approach brands that currently operate a sizeist advertising programme with the data from the Dove ‘projects not campaigns’. I would explain the success of their marketing strategy and create a series of test projects to see whether the brand I was talking to could benefit from a similar approach. Following on from Dove’s ‘projects not campaigns’ I hope that in the future more brands take on this strategy to change the next generations future opinions of beauty, role models and identity. WGSN (a trend forecasting agency) have produced a S/S15 consumer forecast and this season’s overriding theme is Neo Materialism. There is now a growing trend in consumers seeking a more tangible appreciation of the world around them. In other words, they are sick of being fed unrealistic; photo shopped images and they want to see something, real and tangible. (Lohan, 2013). Leading on from this, one of my ideas for making beauty and role models seem more realistic and diverse would be to sell special glasses – similar to Google Glass, which would be a step forward in future digital technology and relevant to the WGSN S/S15 trend. They would have a low price point of £19.99 to be affordable to the masses. Without the glasses the advertisements you see appear as they are. When you put the glasses on, you can see the image unedited, un-airbrushed and imperfect. By using these glasses from a young age you are able to see that not everything is, as it seems, yet it is lovely to imagine it is and you are able to if you don’t wear the glasses. This would have pros and cons. The pros of these glasses would mean that people would understand that no one is perfect, we all have bad hair days, cellulite, even the most beautiful models. This would stop our next generation in society from becoming so image obsessed. However, the cons of doing this would mean that people would become cynical. If there were a huge change between images, people would be less motivated to buy the product. E.g. a beauty product if the original image was dramatic to the altered image. However, this would require the agreement of the advertisers, which is unlikely. Therefore, I don’t think that this is likely to happen in the current environment unless it can be proven to be for the benefit of the brand.
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It would take far more than special glasses to change how current brands and companies advertise and how people feel about role models and beauty. Beauty doesn’t sit solely in uniformity, it also rests in diversity and the sooner brands realise this, the more people will become accepting of themselves and others. When this happens, perhaps more than “4% of 18- 29 year-olds would choose “beautiful” as a word to describe their looks” (Etcoff et al, 2004).
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Appendix A -Consent Forms
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Appendix B: Focus Group – Full Transcript
(03/01/14) Me: Hi, I’m Sophie, and I will be running the focus group today. As part of my programme of study I am undertaking research into your responses to different adverts. To enable me to answer my research questions I wish to talk to you about your feelings towards different adverts and brands. The focus group/interview will be a focussed discussion and will take approximately 10 minutes. We will concentrate on the following: (Gave a brief summary of the questions I will be asking) The focus group/interview will be recorded and transcribed, and should you want a copy of the transcription then please ask me and I will arrange for one to be sent to you. The information you give me will be used in support of my work and will be written up in my project/dissertation. Anything you say will be treated with the strictest confidence and your contribution to the discussion will not be attributed to you as an individual, what you said will be used for illustration only; to reinforce a point that I am making. The recordings will be kept securely and the transcripts on a password protected computer. Both will be destroyed once I have completed my degree and graduated. Begins Me: I am going to show you a recent Dove Advertisement and give me your honest thoughts and opinions of this advert. (Showed them advert) Response 1: “I feel really positive when I see this advert. It makes me want to buy the product”. 2: “I feel that this advert appeals to a much wider audience than other advertisements”. 3: “This advert makes me feel much more confident in my body shape”. 4: “The women all look completely normal, like my mum!!” 5: “Their confidence shines through, it’s inspiring and makes me want to purchase the product”. Me: Would you like to see more brand or company adverts, which featured women of all sizes? All: “YES” In the second part of my focus group I asked the girls what they thought of different brands and the results were enlightening. Me: Hi ladies, how do you feel when I mention the brands – Victorias Secret, Lululemon and Abercrombie? 1: “When I watched the Victorias Secret show I wanted to kill myself ” 2: “Depressed, fat, ugly” 3. “Never going to look as good as the models they advertise” 4: “Demeaned and belittled”. Me: Do any of you shop there? All: “Yes”
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Me: Why do you shop there if you feel that way? 1: “If I didn’t I worry people would judge me” 2: “It is cool to shop there, I aspire to look like the girls they feature in their adverts etc.”. Me: Thank you ladies. That is all.
Appendix C - Survey Monkey Results I created a survey on surveymonkey.com on 06/01/14 with 25 participants responding via Facebook. These are the questions I asked. 1) Which category below includes your age? (Answered: 25) 18-20 = 14 people 21-29 = 7 people 30-39 = 1 40-49 = 2 50-59 = 1 2) How often do you read a magazine/newspaper per month? (Answered:25) Daily = 5 people 2/3 x a week = 9 people Weekly = 5 people Fortnightly = 3 people Montly = 5 people 3) Do you think there is a problem within advertising and only using the best looking models? (Answered: 24) Yes = 13 people No = 11 people 4) Do you feel pressured by adverts to look or act a certain way? (Answered: 25) Yes = 10 people No = 15 people 5) How do you think advertisers could change the way they communicate role models in the future? (Answered: 16) Responses: “By not emphasizing how skinny person X is or how stunning person Y is” “It’s not just advertisers. I think TV and the media in general needs to look at the way they portray women”. “Using a more diverse mix of models – ranging in size, ethnicity, age etc.” “More diversity in size, shape and ethnicity would make the brand more relatable” “More diverse” Which brands are leading the way? 27
“More diversity” “Interviews and not airbrushing” “Don’t use Photoshop and edit models to look unrecognisable” “I don’t” “I think variety is key. People are all different shapes and sizes (not just fat or skinny), so I think they need to focus more on showing and maintaining variety)” “Less about looks and weight and more about talents and achievements” “Use more influential role models, based on their personality/hard work/success” “Use a more diverse array of models for young people” “Different body types/ disabled models/ disfigured people” “Use models that are a realistic weight and use people everybody can relate to” “Different models wearing different clothing from a greater variety of stores” 6) Do you think that there is enough diversity with body size within advertising? (Answered:24) Yes = 6 No = 18
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Figure 1: Eye Makeup Application (December 2013), [ONLINE]. Available at: http://brasseriealize.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/eye-makeup-application.html. [Accessed 10 January 14]. Figure 2: Pear’s Soap, (1861), Pear’s Soap [ONLINE]. Available at: http://www.vinmag.com/online/prodshow/AP2552___Pears_Soap__30x40cm_Art_ Print_/AP2552-pears-soap.html [Accessed 02 January 14]. Fig 3: Dolce & Gabbana (2013) [ONLINE]. Available at: http://www.whatevereurotrash.com/wp/2013/02/22/eurotrash-campaigns-dolce-gabbana-spring-summer-2013/. [Accessed 11 January 14]. w Fig 4: Revlon (1960) [ONLINE]. Available at: http://assets.gcstatic.com/u/apps/asset_manager/uploaded/2012/48/revlon-through-the-ages-1354029506.jpg. [Accessed 12 January 14). Fig 5: Survey Monkey (2014), [ONLINE]. Available at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/analyze/edSW0_2Fu9lpTIshxGAKWhTCP8EVqZpV2QgVxZVwu_2BB0Y_3D. [Accessed 06 January 14]. Fig 6: Dove Self – Esteem Workshop (2013). Available at: http://www.mollynap.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Ellens-Birthday-Dove-Workshop-031.jpg. [Accessed 06 January 2014). Fig 7: Dove (2012). Wrinkled or Wonderful. Available at: http://mediandidentity.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/dove-campaign-for-real-beauty-2. jpg. [Accessed 04 January 14]. Fig 8: Dove (2012). Campaign for real Beauty. Available at: http://c0248141.cdn.cloudfiles.rackspacecloud.com/OGIM_04028_0051903A.JPG. [Accessed 07 January 14]. Fig 9: H&M, (2013). Swimwear+. Available at: http://www.glamour.com/images/fashion/2013/05/h-and-m-one-piece-main.jpg. [Accessed 03 January 13]. Fig 10&11; H&M, (2011). Beachwear. Available at: http://static6.businessinsider.com/image/4f5695d5eab8ead208000093-1200/hm-dispensed-with-models-altogether.jpg. [Accessed 01 January 14]. Fig 12. Julie Poppen, (2013), Just say ‘No’ [ONLINE]. Available at: http://www.ednewsparent.org/blog/9275-editors-blog-just-say-no-to-tweenbook [Accessed 11 January 14].
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COATES, T. (1908). The father of modern advertising. Modern Business. 1 (unknown), p107-115. DOWNS & HARRISON. (1985). The Relationship of Advertising Model Attractiveness and Body Satisfaction to Intention to Purchase an Exercise Product. ADVERTISING STUDIES AND PHYSICAL ATTRACTIVENESS. 1 (8), P17. SHONKOFF, JP (2003). Language delay: Late talking to communication disorder. In CD Rudolph, AM Rudolph, eds.,Rudolph’s Pediatrics, 21st ed., pp. 441–444. New York: McGraw-Hill.
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Sophie Gould N0421241 Fashion Communication and Promotion FASH20031 Module: Communication and Message