The societal role of women reflected in advertisements : An analysis of advertisements in the German market

Detta är en Magister-uppsats från Högskolan i Jönköping/IHH, Marketing and Logistics; Högskolan i Jönköping/IHH, Marketing and Logistics


This thesis examines the role of women depicted in advertisements and aims at evaluating to what degree the advertising industry adapts to the changes of women’s roles in society. The focus of the research lies on Germany. Advertisements of four German brands are analyzed and compared with the role of women in the German society in order to answer the question to what degree the German advertising industry does take into consideration the role of women in the German society.

Nivea, Persil, Fa and Triumph are leading German brands, which target women and thus depict them in their ads or refer to them in the ads’ texts. Advertisements for the time period 1950s till 2000s are analyzed on the basis of content analysis. The long timeline permits to evidence the changes of the depiction of women over time.


The results of the content analysis which is quantitative in nature is undertaken to analyse the advertisements show that the depiction of the women in the ads depends on the decade and also differs from brand to brand, meaning that there is no linear development in the roles depiction of women in advertisements. This is especially visible when compared to previous researches presented in the theoretical chapter. Furthermore, previous researches show a linear development, women have typical roles in each decade and these roles change over the decades in a certain way: Women are mainly shown in “classical” roles in the decades ‘50s till ‘70s and in more varied roles since the ‘80s.

The research at hand, however, shows that the ads from the 1950s to the 1970s show more diverse roles of women than the last three decades. Furthermore, only two of the four brands’ ads during the ‘50s to ‘70s depict women in classical roles and that not for all these three decades. Therefore, the results of this study are not in line with the ones found by past researches.


The results of the content analysis are qualitatively compared with the role played by women in the German society. From the comparison it becomes visible that the German advertising industry adapts to the role of women in the society but only to a certain extent. The analysis shows that the adaption of the brands’ advertisements differs from brand to brand and from decade to decade. In some decades the ads depict women as they are in society, others show a more “modern” image of the women and other decades’ ads show an antiquated image of women. In whole, no linear development of the adaption of the advertising industry to the role changes of women in society is visible.

Overall, the results provide an understanding of how German women are portrayed in German advertisements over time and shed light on the adaption of the German advertising industry to role changes of women in the German society.

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