With the changing times and the acceptance that women are capable of driving safely on the roads, more and more car adverts are targeted towards women. The adverts themselves vary from the adverts aimed at men. The ones aimed at men exert power and dominance on the road, whereas the adverts geared for women use phrases such as ‘slip into something a little more revealing this summer.’ But for both sexes a car is recognised as an indication of wealth and class. It also indicates lifestyle, it is very unlikely to see a mother driving her 4 children to school in the latest BMW Z8.
People are very concerned about the image they portray about themselves and their lifestyles. For this reason, cars are more and more of an icon, a symbol of status than they have ever been before. When the automobiles were first introduced, the people that could afford them were known to be wealthy. This still applies today, people are seen to be more wealthy if they own a Mercedes than if they own a Ford.
But relatively the latest Ford can be seen to out do a Mercedes model that is over 30 years old. The car politics is reflected on the road. It is a common opinion that the more expensive or luxurious your car is seen to be, the better treatment you will receive on the roads as a result of this. Research conducted by an British American Racing car company shows that woman are actually more likely to use cars as a status symbol than a man, and show more admiration towards more expensive car owners than men, who hold them in contempt. A growing number of men are less interested in the make or model of the car, but the inner workings of the engine. A man is found to be happier with a sports car with shoddy leather interior that can go from 0 to 100 in 9d.9 seconds than a woman with the same car.
It is not therefore surprising that with different cars portraying different images that adverts in magazines should also reflect this. NEW WOMAN ADVERT on CARS The first advert is from New Woman. An advert for the Rover 25. From only 7,995 the Rover is said to have a class of it own. The advert covers a double page with the majority of both the pages being the photo. At the bottom is a strip of text, not superimposed on the photo but with a white background of its own selling the vehicle. The text on the left hand page simply says how to find out more about Rover car company, and how to personalise your Rover with ‘exclusive choice of bespoke options and colours.’ This is not in relation to the advert but additional information and a contact address.
The Right hand page under the photo contains the bulk of the information. The opening line is the well known phrase ‘Beauty, they say, is in the eye of the beholder.’ Instead of simply quoting the phrase, they have included a ‘they say’ in between. This breaks down the quote, and makes it seem like less of a command. The use of ‘they say’ also seems to put a more seductive or luring feel over the whole sentence. One can almost imagine the line said seductively. The reference to ‘they’ also creates a familiarity. ‘They’ is supposed to represent ‘people’, but instead of saying ‘people say’, by putting ‘they say’ it almost establishes a common ground with the reader, the mutual knowledge of ‘them’ and what ‘they say.’
The next line is almost contradictory to the first in tone. While the first seems to be more soft spoken the next line is a grand opening gesture. ‘So behold the Rover 25,’ has a louder tone to it. The list of the car’s assets are then listed: a distinctive front grill, an optional range of alloy wheels, colour co-ordinated door mirrors and spoiler.’ It goes on to use another well known saying with relation to beauty, ‘ beauty is skin deep’, contradicting this statement saying that with their class leading 304 litres of space, optional ABS brake system, driver’s airbag and enough front and rear leg room for the longest of legs, the 25’s beauty isn’t simply skin deep but radiates from the inside, deeper than the ‘skin.’
It is clear that the advert is for women, and with comparison to a male equivalent, phrases like ‘colour co-ordinated door and mirrors and spoiler’ and ‘enough front room and rear legroom for the longest of legs’ are replaced with ‘propels you from 0 -60 in a staggering 6.9 seconds and ‘includes a multi-link suspension system.’ The photo seems irrelevant to the whole product with the car surrounded by rubbish, with a lanky red head model in stiletto boots staring suggestively into the camera. The last sentence however, which appears as though it is trying to justify the need for the photo, and the relevance of it says ‘So look good even in the trashiest places with the Rover 25 range.’ The tall, thin and seemingly expensive looking model is supposed to look even more exquisite although she is in the middle of the dump because of the racy red Rover 25 next to her. Or perhaps the racy red Rover 25, looks even more racy with the tall, slim model by its side?
Although the car takes up most of the page, the model is in the fore front, and although the car is a bright eye catching red, our attention immediately goes to the red head stood alone in the middle of a tip. It isn’t the car that draws our initial attention to the advert but the model. Women were used as sex objects in previous years, lying sprawled across the latest mini with sexist phrases such as ‘a cute little lassie with her cute little car.’ The fact that the model in this advert demands attention by simply standing beside the car shows how much more respect women have now.
The main theme of the whole advert is beauty, looking good and being impressive. An image which previously only extended to make up and jewellery now extends to the cars we drive. So additional pressure is placed on women, not only are they to dress well, look good, have money and friends, but they are presented with another opportunity to prove themselves in the world :have the perfect car. They can either accept the challenge and continue to be a slave to fashion like everybody else, or stand at the bus stop staring at other colleagues driving past. Independence is shown as coming from taking the road into the palm of their hand. Independence and power that most woman want in their life.