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Victoria Camps: The tyranny of advertising

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May
28,
2009
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victoria-camps1Victoria Camps, the Professor of the University of Barcelona, was the first one to speak in Congènere. Victoria gave a discourse about a tyranny in advertising.

According to Victoria, the reason why the image of women in adverts is so conservative is that advertising's goal is to reach the majority. In fact, the profile of a television addicted person corresponds to a non-emancipated woman lacking a critical point of view and feeling identified with the program line offered by television. ¨You only have to stay home sick once to discover the type and quality of programs broadcasted in the morning¨-said Victoria. That's why professionals use stereotypes.

The use of classic rhetoric in advertising makes seem cutting edge the images that are in fact very conservative. Sexism in nowadays advertising is more subtle and sophisticated than 10 years ago,

when the difference between roles was clear (women selling household goods and men: cars, tobacco and alcohol). Today the inequality is transmitted through more or less exposed presence of female and male characters (in majority of cases, very young and appealing) and voices, among the others.

In fact, in 83% of adverts the man's voice is the leading one. After all, what seems a big step forward only perpetuates old stereotypes.

A quantitative equality (number of people of both sexes) is easier to keep than a qualitative equality (non-discriminatory representations). As a consequence, woman stays where she was (cleaning) but in a more subtle way (for example a female character saying: ¨As a biologist, I choose <this cleaning product>).

Although professionals are conscious that women request change of the advertising discourse, they don't do anything because they know that what feeds imagination the best are stereotypes. According to Victoria, "what they want are empty brains ready to be filled with what market wants to sell them".

The regulations tried to order the audiovisual programmes and adapt them to the profile of up to date women. However, the only effective way to do it is a change of the human mentality.

Professionals prefer an auto-regulation. But, how do you define it? Who decides about what and how should be regulated? Actually, auto-regulation works only when the advert has been denounced. And it often clashes with the freedom of speech of the publicist, who defends his position stating that the image is a fiction, whose only purpose is to sell.

Victoria's speech focused the course of the congress on the values in advertising speech and the way they can change the popular imagery.

Half of the participants were in favour of the opinion that the values transmitted through advertising do nothing more than degenerating the society (leading to consumerism and hedonism); the other half believed that new, equal values could mark a positive change.

The discussion goes on…

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