dynamic relationship between media and society

Question: apply concepts of media studies in analysing the dynamic relationship between media and society and the impact of media on individuals.

Answer: Need of Media Literacy to detect Media Propaganda, Censorship and Biasness-A study on Axe Advertisement 

Abstract

Today if any medium that is spreading information and providing knowledge to the people of society than any other mode, that is Mass Media. This media is now a days becoming one of the useful tool for promotion of product and service. As the marketer understood the fact that, people get influenced more when they see, hear and experience it. In this report we are going to see the negative effect of media on people due to lack of media awareness.  The following study is on one of the popular brand known as AXE which sells deodorant and perfumes. The study will open up how AXE advertising (especially in TV and digital media) is being used as propaganda and biasness to the male in society by portraying women as the symbol of sexism to take their own advantages of selling. The study will carry us to understand how media education to people can change the attitude, behaviour and knowledge to understand the real intention behind ads. 

Introduction 

Television and Internet are the two popular and widely accepted media for billions of people across the globe. It is the reason, today marketer has found these medium as a power tool of sales promotion to get maximum footfall for the product and service they offer in market.  Around 60-70% of people are influenced with TV and Digital Media ads. These media also give space for creativity, agility, wide spectrum and coverage of multiple audience at the same time. This is the reason many marketers go for this medium for sales promotion. The medium is expensive thus they try to put everything on it so that maximum attention can be drawn towards product and service. [Zeilinger, J. (2013)]
I selected AXE deodorant and perfume advertisement in TV and Internet as the topic under study. In this report, I am going to analyse the issue which is- How AXE is portraying women as symbol of sexism who gets attracted towards men who use this brand deodorant and perfume?  I selected this issue for my study because in many countries Women equality is not there and they are still taken as just to entertain and work for their male as they want.  Apart from other factors, Portraying women in advertisement by AXE brand in such manner spreading negative message to society male who due to lack of media education commits sexual crime. It is a serious issue as it is related to women dignity and their safety. So an analysis should be conducted so that such behaviour of male towards female will be controlled and this can be possible with media education. [Deursen, A. J. (2017)]
The study will raise the following arguments- Why TV and Internet media is so influential for society people? Why Axe portray women in their ads? Is it biased media display? How this biasness affects male’s behaviour towards women? How media education will help the viewers to understand media biasness? [ Herman, Edward S et.al1988]
The study will address the questions one by one which will clear the path to understand the propaganda and biasness behind it. Then we will discuss about media education and its relevance to people to locate these window dress and take rational decisions.    

Concept Reading  

Media Influence on society- There are 3 important reasons that drive society people to consider media which are- news/information, entertainment and education. People believe what they see more than what they hear and there TV and Internet play vital role to attract people with attractive contents. They make us to buy their product. This overall puts both positive and negative impact on society people. If the product is good, then it makes a positive impact but it is harmful or the ad contents displaying negative message then it affects the behaviour, attitude and values of people in society.
Media Propaganda/Biasness-   Media propaganda is the act of spreading ideas, information, rumours that helps or injures a person or an organization. As technology changed the experience of media, the marketers are successful to use propaganda well to make people influenced. The only motive behind the technique is to change the attitude or behaviour of people towards a product or service. Why is it so successful? The answer is the persuasiveness power of propagandist. TV and Internet has given freedom to be creative and they are using this as a good platform to influence mass as they spent lot on them. In our study, the propaganda or biasness is to increase sales and revenue. [Kemp, N. (2017)]
Media education- This implies an approach of making people aware of propaganda and biasness that is happening with media so that they can take right course of action. It helps in critical thinking skill, develop right attitude and behaviour towards what they see in media. The aim is to take people on right track and keep them away from negative influence.     

Analysis  

Influence of TV and internet Ads on Society people (Negative perspective)
Due to greater flexibility, agility and creativity, TV and Internet have more impact on people than any other mode. So, these two are the best medium for the marketers to get maximum attention of people to buy the product and service they are offering. To run an advertisement in television costs around $5000 for 10 seconds on TV. Over internet, it costs around $1-2 per click. This clearly states that advertisement over these medium is a costly affair thus marketers try their level best to make the ads attractive so that more people will look for the product and service.
This pressure makes the marketer sometimes to present ads in fascinating manner without having any such attributes in the product or service. Here what happens next?-
•  It is just exaggeration that marketer uses to make people buy the product.
• TV and Internet Ads due to its creative and attractive characteristics create false image of people about themselves. 
• People make unrealistic expectation with the product and service marketer offer. 
• They become ignorant about the side effect and caution with the product and service and that lead them in trouble.
• These ads increases the impulsiveness of people that lead them to health, financial and social troubles. 
• Due to lack of media education, the attitude and behaviour is controlled by ads which lead them to stop thinking rationally, ethically and socially about what is right or wrong? [Almeda University . (2017)]
 
AXE advertisement strategy  
AXE is basically a brand that carries Male dominance brand personality. Their target market is mostly the age group 15-35 male population who cares for fashion and style. Axe uses the stereotype and monotony promotional strategy where in every ads they show how women get attracted to the male when they use AXE product. Even the taglines like FIND YOUR MAGIC, AXE EFFECT, EVEN ANGELS WILL FALL are symbolising the dominance or uniqueness that male gets after using this brand. The marketing strategy gave huge success to them and they captured almost 72% of US body spray selling shares and become a $2.5 billion brand. [ROSCORLA, T. (2010)]
 
Why women are portrayed in ads of AXE? 
From a close observation, it can be identified that AXE is trying to present male population as supreme in society who needs to look handsome, attractive, rich and successful with women but their main target is to represent product as sex weapon. [Wordpress Team . (2013)] They believe that age group of 18-30 male want to be successful with female. If they use AXE, female will fall on you. They with every advertisement features women who sways on male after he uses AXE. They believe that young generation (mostly the college going students or bachelors) are more passionate and full of emotion and sexual need is a basic need of them which they try to fulfil and Axe is the product which helps them to do it. By featuring women attractive, seductive and sexiest, they stimulates the sex desire of male with AXE product. Their main motive remains the same to sell more. [Kalkum, A.et.al2012]
 
The propaganda of AXE ads 
Over a long period AXE has been trying to put women as brainless object who are only to please male. AXE in their ads show that the male who uses Axe spreads the message that using this product makes male more attractive to women. This is also called pathos. [Rutherford, P. (2000)]
What Axe is doing is that it is placing the men in that position he is desired to have sex. The ads motivates him to use AXE to get along with the women. The ads are designed in such a manner that it lets the male to think that if they start using Axe, in reality also they are going to fulfil their sex desire. Even if one doesn’t have such desire earlier, by watching ads again and again (3 Hit Theory) it brings out the desire stronger.  When the desires get stronger it forces people to chase for it. Thus more and more male consumers are going for AXE brand. 
The Axe ad can be categorised as Emotional Propaganda as they are playing with the emotion and passion of male consumers to use the products.  [Martins, M. M. D. M. D. (2012)]
 
What is the biasness behind AXE ad campaigns?
At first, it is presenting women in a stereotype manner. To sell the product more and more, AXE marketing team is showing female as an object to please male. They don’t have brains and they get attracted when a man uses Axe product. They are making ads which spreads the message that deodorant or perfume drags the women attention towards you but according to a study 90% of female doesn’t think in that way thus it is a completely a propaganda or biasness by the company to make more revenues. [Baran, S. J. (2010).] 
Moreover it is also misrepresenting male in these ads. It is showing that it is the body spray that makes male attractive and women like to see them in that way. But in reality women doesn’t fall on such things but on other attributes like grooming, assertive behaviour, good sense of humour, respect etc. 
 
Impact of AXE ads propaganda on Male (especially towards female)
There is high correlation existence between the ads and its influence on attitude and behaviour on individual. The ads that feature female as sex object are more likely to change the attitude and behaviour of male which leads them to do interpersonal violence. Here are some of the negative impacts that Axe ads have done to society-
• It has created the image of women as “sex object” who are there to please male. Some independent studies have proved that male are buying Axe products mostly with the motive to impress female to fall on him. [Schudson, M. (2013)]
• It is increasing sexual desire among the teenager especially which they try to fulfil anyhow. This leads to sexual crimes like harassment, rape, abusing etc. They don’t understand the right or wrong due to such strong desires.
• Such ads also influence girls who have the same desire and that leads severe mistakes. 
• The ads are going against the society principle of gender equality where the male think that they dominate over female in society. Such thinking or attitude results in negative behaviour towards women. [Byerly, C. M.,et.al2008]
• Not only its female that is found to have negative impact but also it is the male who sees others inferior who don’t use AXE product like lack of attitude, style, fashionable etc. 
According to a website, it is proved that 76% of people find Axe ads are offensive to women and 84% of female respondent believe that female feel offended in such ads. [Statista Team . (2016).]
 
Media Literacy to understand Propaganda and Biasness    
The parent company Unilever knows that to remain a market leader, it is important for them to do more promotion and get more and more youth attention. This is the reason they are making it more sensitive. This is clearly a marketing strategy which Axe is using and getting success but this is affecting society people in many ways. This is the reason why there is a need of media education to the people in society.  [Grabe, S.et.al2008]
 
How do get educated?
• Identify the propaganda- The people should understand the reason behind such ad campaigns and they should study about the reason behind such ads. In case of Axe this propaganda can be understood with the research about the product.
• Gather full information about the product and compare with what they are displaying in ad to know reality. 
• Apply critical Thinking skill in order to understand the benefit of the product from own research not what they show.
• Develop ethical and social education by reading books and other materials. 
• Don’t trust always on what we see is true. [Potter, W. J. (2013)]
• If possible, take a course on Media education to improve the reasons behind ad campaigns.
Impact- It will develop knowledge about fields like sociology, ethics, psychology, anthropology, marketing, communication and many such fields. 

Conclusion  

From the study about AXE ads on digital media platforms, we came to know that such promotion is a media propaganda with a motive to earn revenues and customers so that they can hold majority of market share. We came to know that such ads is spreading objectivity of women message in society which is hindering the gender equality concept in society. The sexism in their ad is stimulating their sex desire which is provoking to dominate over women to fulfil it. This is getting a serious reason behind increase in crimes with women. The ad campaigning is not only affecting the women sentiment, dignity and their rights but also misleading the younger generation male in their attitude, behaviour and personality. It is the media literacy that can help in increasing critical and rational skill to understand such biasness behind ads so that they can take right course of actions in future. 

References

Almeda University . (2017, December 03). almedauniversity.org. Retrieved from https://almedauniversity.org/articles/axe-advertisement-analysis-282-527/
Deursen, A. J. (2017, March 08). http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/9781118783764.wbieme0044/abstract;jsessionid=024D7730AAF1B443D38768065CFA0E60.f01t03?systemMessage=Wiley+Online+Library+is+migrating+to+a+new+platform+powered+by+Atypon%2C+the+leading+provider+of+scholarly+publis
Kemp, N. (2017, April 10). www.campaignlive.co.uk. Retrieved from https://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/case-study-axe-redefined-masculinity/1430092
ROSCORLA, T. (2010, November 24). www.centerdigitaled.com. Retrieved from http://www.centerdigitaled.com/policy/10-Steps-to-Strengthen-Digital-and-Media-Literacy.html
Statista Team . (2016). www.statista.com. Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/statistics/628166/sexism-advertising-usa/
Wordpress Team . (2013, October 11). irenefgoros.wordpress.com. Retrieved from https://irenefgoros.wordpress.com/2013/10/11/the-axe-effect-women-depiction/
Zeilinger, J. (2013, August 01). http://www.huffingtonpost.in. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.in/entry/axe-commercial-suggests-that-women-ruin-everything_n_3689409
Herman, Edward S., and Noam Chomsky. 1988. Manufacturing Consent. The Political Economy
of the Mass Media. New York: Pantheon Books. Chapter 1 A Propaganda Model, pp. 1-35. (35
pages)
Rutherford, P. (2000). Endless propaganda: The advertising of public goods. University of Toronto Press.
Martins, M. M. D. M. D. (2012). Gender percepcion and attitude towards AXE fragance Anarchy (Doctoral dissertation).
Kalkum, A., & Reinhardt, I. (2012). Brand Analysis" Axe"-Consumer Behaviour Theories.
Baran, S. J. (2010). Introduction to mass communication: Media literacy and culture.
Potter, W. J. (2013). Media literacy. Sage Publications.
Schudson, M. (2013). Advertising, the uneasy persuasion (RLE Advertising): Its dubious impact on American society(Vol. 6). Routledge.
Byerly, C. M., & Ross, K. (2008). Women and media: A critical introduction. John Wiley & Sons.
Grabe, S., Ward, L. M., & Hyde, J. S. (2008). The role of the media in body image concerns among women: a meta-analysis of experimental and correlational studies. Psychological bulletin, 134(3), 460.

 

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