How Has the Portrayal of Men and Women in the Media Changed Over the Past 30 Years

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Because advertisers are trying to gain the attention of their target consumer group, they work hard to depict the ideals of society. If young and slim is attractive, they will work that into their presentation in as many ways as they can. If macho and hard is the current fashion, this, too, will be reflected in the way a product is marketed. At the same time, by changing the way they combine different types of visual clues, these same media outlets can help to redefine a culture, to make it more tolerant of ecological issues, for example, or to change the way society views gender roles. A look back into the print advertisements of a long-successful, large company such as Coca-Cola reveals how advertising has both reflected and influenced the changing ideals concerning the definition of male and female during the past 30 years.The Coca-Cola ads of the 1970s reflected the country’s political instability with an almost overwhelming emphasis on reasserting the American ideals of the typical white middle-class suburban lifestyle. In its Look Up America campaign, the company portrayed these solid ideals in the choice of artistic styles as well as their choices in images displayed. A calendar widely distributed during this campaign utilized an artistic style that simplified the images to a basic color scheme with very little in the way of extraneous detail. The design features a realistic-seeming large bottle of Coca Cola centered on the page with the rest of the images remaining stylized. The calendar itself is tucked neatly down in the very lower-left corner while an inspiring poem balances it out on the right corner. The bottle seems to rest on this solid text area while it is surrounded by a variety of images that serve to celebrate the ideal American lifestyle. We see a man and a woman out with their bikes, the Golden Gate Bridge, the rolling hills, the snow-covered peaks, the mighty river, the soaring eagle, a pair of hikers enjoying the splendor and a group of people at a community picnic.