For decades, Australian men have been caricatured as foolish idiots in advertising. Men are presented as stupid, useless or otherwise the butt of all jokes. Who are these dumb male stereotypes that fill up our television ads? These representations of males are not familiar to me but the ads have to appeal to wives and mothers, who according to research, hold the purse strings in most Australian households.
Recently, Toyota opened a suggestion box so footy fans can give feedback on how AFL can be improved. ”The idea behind this way of thinking, not only for the Toyota Good for Footy Suggestion Box, but for our organisation as a whole, is that in order for a product, process, or experience to be enhanced, then we need to hear suggestions firsthand from those who live and breathe it – in this case, the football community – in order to discover what changes they would consider most valuable,” said Tim Stuckey, Toyota’s Senior Manager of Marketing Integration.
In Toyota’s recent Good and Gooder advertisement, an average Aussie husband magically turns into AFL player, Marcus Bontempelli after being kissed by his wife.
Could you imagine if Toyota reversed the roles and the 50-year-old wife turned into a hot young blonde after being kissed by her husband? And then, to conclude the ad, the husband said, “That’s gooder”? Toyota wouldn’t get away with it, it would be labelled sexist and misogynistic and there would be calls for it to be removed.
On February 21st this year, The Australian Association of National Advertisers announced a new advertising Code of Ethics addressing gender-stereotyping. This new code is obviously meaningless when it comes to real changes because gender stereotyping in advertising appears to be getting worse.
The happy housewife with her Hoover is long gone. So is Madge and “You’re soaking in it”.
If we are going to eliminate gender stereotyping in Australian advertising, it can’t be one-sided. It’s a tad hypocritical to condemn the “doting housewife” or “hot babe” in commercials while portraying Australian blokes as gormless morons.
Advertising stereotypes such as Toyota’s have been found to affect men’s mental health. This is an age where employment insecurity has left many men — particularly the older, less skilled and less educated or already disadvantaged — feeling interchangeable, disposable and disempowered.
The growth of the cult of the tradie has been a response to this; largely self-employed blue collar blokes seizing back control of their destiny — and with it a sense of their own worth and dignity.
Advertising has catered to this.
Now Toyota has made the blokes interchangeable again.
It might be woker, but it’s not necessarily gooder.
We can do better.