The Effect of Modern Female Sex Role Portrayals on Advertising Effectiveness

Lynn J Jaffe and Paul D Berger

The rise in the number of working women has created a cultural shift in American society. Advertisers have responded to these changes by creating diverse modern images of women. One of the modern portrayals is the 'superwoman image' in which a woman manages the demands of both job and home with little help from anyone. The other is the 'egalitarian image' in which a working woman and her working husband share the household chores. In an experiment among 140 married adult women, we examine the effect of these modern female role portrayals on advertising effectiveness. Print ads for a food product are used. Analysis reveals that the egalitarian portrayal is the most effective role portrayal among many segments of the female market. Economic resource theory and sociological theory were used to develop hypotheses and to explain significant interaction effects between role portrayal and different female market segments on advertising effectiveness.