Content Analysis of Print Media Advertisements

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I am performing a content analysis project study to understand how advertisement the media today portray women in the society as either being infantilized or sexualized. This research projects seeks to find out the prevalence of media portrayal of women by focusing on print media advertisements such as those found in magazines and newspapers. The major objective and purpose of my assignment is to provide a description and an analysis of the advertisements and provide a report describing the findings of the research project. In our daily life, we encounter advertisements a multiple times and thus media advertisements can play a great role in shaping the viewer’s perspectives of how women in the society are portrayed when they appear in advertisements. Radio, television, magazines, newspapers, flyers, are examples of media where advertisements can be found. I choose to focus my analysis on print media advertisements such as those found in magazines as they have a significant impact on the perception of women on consumers in the current market dynamics of the nation. In fact, many of the advertisements in magazine productions have a high content of sexualized and infantilized women. Such advertisements are able to elude customers into a good life feeling through the consumption of the product being advertised. I intend to offer an explanation of how the print media has been used to turn women into objects in the process of advertising products and that people should be cautious in interpreting the role of women in advertisements when they open an advertisement page in a magazine.

Subjects for study

My research mainly utilized different social artifacts to analyze the utilization of print media advertisements to portray women in the society. Many social artifacts comprise of poems, paintings, pictures, books or drawings. For this research project for content analysis, I decided to utilize magazines as a social artifact to gather information on how advertisements are used to represent women in the society. I utilized forty-five advertisements drawn from five major US and European based magazines as the samples for my research project. From the five magazines, I selected nine appropriate advertisements and analyzed their content to check how women are represented in the print media. The first magazine, Cosmopolitan, is a US based magazine whose content has been designed to target young and middle aged adult women in America. The second magazine that was utilized for my research is the Better Homes and Gardens, a top selling magazine in the United States. The third magazine was Darling, a magazine that is designed to promote the empowerment of women across the United States. All You, is the fourth magazine that I utilized for the content analysis project and published by the Time Incorporation. Lastly, the project utilized advertisements from the 10 Magazines publications, a UK based print media house which focuses on women living, economics and health. I chose to use different magazines in order to have a clear picture of how women are represented in the various print media and how the different audiences who read such magazines may be influenced in their perception of women. The selection process included identifying the best magazines from at least fifteen magazines before I finally settled on the listed five magazines.

Data Collection

The variables for the content analysis project included the page numbers of the advertisements, the product being advertised, gender, sexualized, objectified, violence, infantilized and silenced. For the project, I classified the objectified variable as an advertisement that has reduced the role of the woman to just an advertisement object when their body parts are exposed for example, thighs, chest areas, breasts, buttocks or the vaginal areas. The violence variable was classified as an advertisement which suggested women conflicts or dominance of the man over the woman, sometimes, an injured woman in an advertisement suggested violence. An infantilized advertisement was identified when a woman dressed in specific childish attires such as pig tails, playing with toys, baby dolls dressing and eating candy. The sexualized variable represented advertisements that presented women who suggested sexual behavior or suggesting sexual intercourse for example having almost 100% of their body exposed, posing in a suggestive manner, wearing provocative or scanty clothing such as the lingerie and bikini. The objective variable was used to analyze advertisements that focused on particular body areas of the woman, for example, the calves, the face, stomach, the back, or the breast areas. To be considered not objective, the advertisement must be able to present the full picture of the woman such that the audience is not able to focus on one particular areas of the woman’s body. Silenced variable showed isolated women while a man or other women dominated the advertisement. The sample units utilized in the research project were publications within the last four months and as such, analyzing content from a specific period range, made the study a cross sectional study.


The five magazines utilized for this research study and content analysis have varying degrees of the research variables such as sexuality, violence, objectivity, infantilized and silenced. The Cosmopolitan, All You, Darling and 10 Magazines publications showed highly sexualized advertisements where nude photos of women and women posing in sexual suggestive manner were presented. Personally, when I saw the advertisements with too much sexual content, I pondered whether this is the new methodology for modern advertisement. I guess many young ladies and men are intrigued by such advertisements and they think that buying or consuming the product being advertised by these ladies would be super cool! Unfortunately, many people do not understand the real impacts of the advertisements in how their perception of the women is shaped in the society. Better Homes and Gardens and Darling

magazines which are focused on empowering women showed advertisements and campaigns against women violence and silencing of women in the society.


I was not surprised by the observations I made since advertisements have evolved to portray women in a manner that affects the consumption of the audiences who read the magazines. In essence, the advertisements are designed to create an illusion in the minds of the consumers suggesting that the lifestyle of the people or women in the advertisement can be achieved in real life. I think that highly sexualized advertisements in magazines should be restricted from access to young adults and the youth as they contribute to the deterioration of morals in the society. Instead of focusing on sexual oriented advertisement, the advertisements should be designed to promote women empowerment and entrepreneurship projects. I hope with this research, more people will start to view advertisements in a more critical way and more discrete manner to avoid delusions by the lifestyles of the people shown in the advertisement pages.


SOCU 301  Social Research Design

         Practice : Content Analysis


Column 1: PAGE #. Record the page number of the ad.

Column 2: PRODUCT. Record the brand name and product or service being advertised.

Column 3: #/GENDER. Record the number of people in the ad using the following code:

            1 = 1 woman, 0 men

            2 = 1 woman, 1 man

            3 = 2 women, 0 men

            4 = 2 women, 1 man

            5 = 2 women, 2 men

            9 = other

Column 4: SEXUALIZED. Record whether the women are sexualized (as defined by Kilbourne), using codes:

1 = women ARE sexualized

            2 = women are NOT sexualized

            9 = other

Column 5: OBJECTIFIED. Kilbourne argues that people (especially women) are reduced to objects when ads show body parts rather than full bodies. Record this variable using codes:

            1 = women, individual body parts shown

            2 = women, full bodies only shown

            9 = other

Column 6: VIOLENCE. Record whether violence is suggested involving women:

            1 = yes

            2 = no

            9 = other

Column 7: INFANTILIZED. Kilbourne argues that women are regularly depicted as childlike. Record whether this occurs in each ad, using the following codes:

            1 = yes

            2 = no

            9 = other

Column 8: SILENCED. Record the presence of the following subtle indications that women should be quiet and withdrawn (enter as many as apply):

            1 = finger or hand at mouth

            2 = mouth covered by other object

            3 = text indicates that woman should be quiet

            4 = other indication of quiet

            5 = NO indication that women in ad should be quiet

            9 = not applicable or no women in ad

August 01, 2023
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