Vanish powder

Date: January 1, 1970
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The billboard is an advertisement for a new washing powder called Vanish. It shows a woman sitting with pink bubbles around her, a pile of clean laundry and a jar of the washing powder.

This advertisement may be used to:
1. Show how subtle stereotypes are perpetuated through women being prescribed to the family and home oriented roles.
Trainer’s notes
In the Mirror on the Media Advertising research conducted by GL the male and female audiences felt that the advert related to the product being sold. The older female audience did not feel that the roles should have been reversed.
The advert has been classified as a subtle stereotype as it reinforces the notion of women as home makers, having the main responsibility for keeping the house clean. The advertisers have focused on a particular market, which is women, but it is not only women who do laundry or buy the washing powder. This advert is packaged in a way that makes it seem normal to have a woman advertising a detergent. The responses by the participants show that media have managed to reinforce gender stereotypes so normally that few think there is any problem with the way this has been done. Women are rarely presented in challenging roles outside the home.
Discussion Questions
1. How would audiences respond to a man in the role of washing the family laundry?
How does this advertisement reinforce subtle gender stereotypes?
3. What other images could have been used ?

Training exercises
1. Use digital techniques to replace a man with a woman in this advertisement, or cut up advertisements from magazines and play around with moving images to challenge gender sterotypes.
2. Collect advertisements for washing soaps and powders, what are the trends.
3. Visit a supermarket on a busy day, observe how many men/ women are purchasing washing powders.
4. Read "Learning to be a Dad" and/ or "Zimbabwe: Men are carers too" (below). How do these representations of men challenge the strategy behind the advertisement.  

Additional training resources
Picture our Lives: Gender and Images in Southern Africa, Chapter three, p32, Archetype, or Stereotype?
This section is very relevant to subtle stereotypes that reinforce the way things are and that we are often more comfortable with. Are these archetypes or stereotypes? When does an archetype become a stereotype? What is the effect of this?

Related GL Commentaries
Missing the mark? Gender and advertising in Southern Africa
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall? 
Gender equality not finding its way past the front door 
Learning to be a Dad 
Zimbabwe: Men are carers too 

Download : Vanish pwder

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