Advertisements are Breaking Stereotypes of Women, But What about Men?

Audi’s “Daughter” has certainly been one of the most talked commercials in this year’s Super Bowl, with 12 million views on YouTube and ranked the third on Ad Meter (Ad Meter, 2017). Narrated by the voice of a father, this commercial shows a cart race won by his daughter and advocates gender equality.

Advertisements concerning gender issues have been increasingly popular, talking about gender equality, stereotypes and female empowerment (Schultz, 2017). Among them, there are Always’ “Like A Girl” which infuses positive meanings into a stereotyped description, and Pantene’s “Labels Against Women” which encourages women to be strong. From the perspective of female audience, it feels great to see advertisements are taking notice of these issues and making efforts to convey encouraging messages. Brands with sincere caring propositions can therefore win enhanced recognition and more sales from woman customers.

However, what about men?

According to Ad Meter (2017), “Daughter” has the largest rating difference between females and males among the commercials in Super Bowl. It could be implied that, commercials promoting gender equality and breaking woman stereotypes are not quite effective to  man audience. Concerning the purpose, if brands are aimed at resonating with female consumers or expanding the customer base to reach more women, they have achieved their goals. Nevertheless, they may fail to exert a more profound influence on the gender issues they address, since they only inspire females and neglect males’ thoughts to an extent.

What’s more, these advertisements may depict male characters in a relatively negative way (BBC, 2017). To be more specific, in “Like A Girl”, a boy says some words that could insult his sister and thinks girls are usually effeminate. In “Daughter”, the boy competitors are complacent and also bully the girl by bumping her on the racing track. These depictions could send the messages to audience that men are not treating women with equality and seeing them with gender stereotypes. Inevitably, men could be placed on the opposite side of what are being praised and encouraged in these advertisements. Aren’t these also composing the stereotypes of men?

“The representation of gender is advertising needs to move on from a focus on ‘objectifying women’ to thinking about people as a whole” (Chahal, 2016, para. 1). Endeavor to break stereotypes of women might bring about forming stereotypes of men (Chahal, 2016). It is thus vital for brands to take responsibility for the messages that they are conveying to consumers. How do you feel about these advertisements advocating gender equality and breaking stereotypes of women? What do you think of the different responses from males and females about these advertisements? Are these advertisement forming stereotypes of men in some ways?

As consumers, we don’t want to be described with stereotypes in commercials. As marketers, maybe we need to think further about how to convey the messages.



Ad Meter. (2017). 2017 Ad Meter Results. Retrieved from

Ad Meter. (2017). “Daughter”. Retrieved from

BBC. (2017, February 6). Super Bowl: Audi’s Daughter ad divides viewers. BBC News. Retrieved from

Chahal, M. (2016, October 5). Gender stereotyping is about people not just women. Marketing Week. Retrieved from

Schultz, E.J. (2017, February 1). Audi Addresses the Gender Pay Gap in Its Super Bowl Ad. Creativity. Retrieved from

About sunniexyy

From Guangzhou, China Major in Broadcast Journalism in Communication University of China, First-year student in Communication Management in USC Worked as an intern in Hill+Knowlton Strategies and Edelman
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5 Responses to Advertisements are Breaking Stereotypes of Women, But What about Men?

  1. forbess says:

    In order for brands to represent ‘people as a whole’ in supporting gender equality, it would be beneficial if the representation of both genders included humility with empowerment, rather than pinning empowerment against antagonism. Your audience may associate your brand as an asset for women to persevere against societal norms. But to influence men to step back and think about the issues surrounding gender equality will further complement the narrative of empowerment for society as a whole.

    While I agree that the “Daughter” campaign negatively depicted men in how they compete against women (even though that depiction is at times true), I was more impressed of how Audi represented humility for its targeted market: the fathers of daughters. While seeing his daughter making swift turns, defending her spot in the race and then going full throttle towards the finish line, he could not help but wonder how pre-existing obstacles in society will negatively affect her as life progresses (i.e., no equal pay for men and women doing the same job). Given that Audi targets their vehicle primarily for suburban households, this humility hits on point for all fathers who wonder what they do to support gender equality now in order to empower their daughters in the future.

  2. labbasi says:

    It is very difficult to show both sides. I agree as there should be commercials empowering the woman, there needs to be some about the man. Both should be focused where the gender is least supported.

    Covergirl has had their first male model which was breaking ground in the industry. He wasn’t showcased as a male but as one of the many models who use Covergirl and look great. He wasn’t a show dog and I thought that made it more powerful. It was shown as normal that men can wear makeup too.

    I think as long as commercials are tasteful and showing equality, there should be more. However, neither side should be shown as the alpha gender. It can have a negative effect.

  3. ruoqihao says:

    Advertising is always featured with gender stereotyping. I think it also associates with the product or service types the commercial is about. In other words, commercials have to adapt to the targeted audience, male or female, or both. So we may see gender stereotypes in advertising as the reflection of the target. However, some products usually targeting males are challenging the gender stereotype principle when they are trying to include females as a target audience. Check this out: See how this Audi car commercial challenge gender stereotype in an adorable way.

  4. bammons says:

    I agree that there needs to be commercials that uplift men and women. Advertising has been very stereotypical for a long time for men and women. The question is how can you break stereotypes and still successfully accomplish the goal that needs to be accomplished. The advertising for this years Super Bowl seemed like a lot of the companies targeted their audience through emotions.

  5. mengjunw says:

    It was so great to see Sunnie pointed out the feeling when I see “Daughter” commercials. I agreed that the campaign somehow ignored the male audience’s feeling.

    For “like a girl”, I found that all the participants are required to do the action related to a sport: football, swimming and running. I am wondering the target audience of the campaign is female or female athletes. If the target audience is female, it will be better to include other actions, such as laughing as a girl, having dinner as a girl or sitting as a girl.