Ad Critique: Dr. Pepper’s Guide to Gender Equality

Often, we are offended by ads that objectify women. This Dr. Pepper commercial does not do so and thus probably incites less outrage than one depicting almost-naked women. This sort of commercial, however, is similarly detrimental to gender equality. Certainly, the burly man in the commercial is, as Judith Lorber refers to it, “doing gender,” as he ruggedly carries a tree, sports a manly flannel, calls to nature with a forceful posture, and travels fearlessly through the wilderness.1 By contributing to gender as the process that teaches young boys acceptable traits and how to act, the character is reinforcing “the social differences that define ‘woman’ and ‘man.’”

Perhaps more importantly, however, in promoting the idea of manliness, the commercial is helping to perpetuate the male sex’s domination. The first line of the commercial is a perfect example as it states, “There is no such thing as a no man’s land to me.”2 In essence, everywhere belongs to man. Christine Delphy illustrates the underlying issue with this commercial when she writes, “[Sex] serves to allow social recognition and identification of those who are dominants and those who are dominated.” Dr. Pepper is implicitly reminding men that its product will help to ensure their male superiority.

Low-calorie items are usually marketed towards women. While embracing man’s dominance is an excellent marketing strategy, it should be interpreted as offensively as commercials objectifying women.

1. Lorber, Judith. “The Social Construction of Gender (1990).” In Reconstructing Gender: A Multicultural Anthology, edited by Estelle Disch, 113-120. 4th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2006, 113.

2. Delphy, Christine. “Rethinking Sex and Gender.” In Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global Perspectives, by Carole R. McCann and Seung-Kyung Kim, 57-67. New York: Routledge, 2003, 62.

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