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THE IMPACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IN ADVERTISEMENTS Michael L. Capella, Ronald Paul Hill, Justine M. Rapp, and Jeremy Kees ABSTRACT: Understanding the impact of portrayals of violence and abuse by advertising media, especially when directed at women, requires our going beyond concerns about effectiveness of such marketing communications. Previous research finds an unequivocal and harmful increased acceptance of cross- gender aggression and rape within society as a result of sexualized violence. However, none of these investigations examines the impact of violence as an advertising appeal. Thus, our research looks at the influence of sexualized violence in ads on rape myth beliefs and traditional consumer behavior variables. The findings from our study suggest that sexualized violence appeals may impact important advertising variables and appeal to specific market segments, but nevertheless have little value for marketing success. From high above the storied Sunset Strip on a glorious June day, a bound and bruised woman on a billboard gazed down at the citizens of Los Angeles. She was the centerpiece of a new advertising campaign for the Rolling Stones’ 1976 album Black and Blue , part of a national promotion by Atlantic Records that featured print ads, radio spots, and in-store displays. At 14 by 48 feet, she dominated the busy skyline, and traffic snarled up and down the boulevard as drivers slowed to get a better look. The woman wore a lacy white bodice, strategically ripped to display her breasts. Her hands were tied with ropes, immobilized above her head, and her bruised legs were spread apart. She straddled an image of the Stones, with her pubic bone positioned just above Mick Jagger’s head. Her eyes were half closed and her mouth hung open in an expression of pure sexual arousal, as if the rough physical treatment had wakened her desires and now she wanted more. Her enjoyment was captured in the ad copy: “I’m Black and Blue from the Rolling Stones and I love it!” (Bronstein 2008, p. 418) This passage comes from a recent chronicling of an advocacy group’s work to stop a large media conglomerate from continuing an advertising campaign in the 1970s that glorified violence against women. Their fear was that such portrayals reinforce the inappropriate belief that women experience sexual pleasure from physical abuse. This mythic connection denies most standard definitions that violence occurs against the will of the victim rather than with their tacit agreement (see Andersson et al. 2004). Social science literature captures this mentality as “rape myths”; false stereotypes that females enjoy being sexually abused despite their protests to the contrary (Boddewyn and Kunz 1991). Statistics regarding sexual violence against women are alarming; every hour, 16 women confront rapists and every six minutes a woman is raped in the United States, clearly demonstrating that this is a major social problem (Woodruff 1996).
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This note was uploaded on 05/26/2011 for the course MRKT 1 taught by Professor Rt during the Spring '11 term at Ege Üniversitesi.

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