Gender in the Marketing Industry

In her article “Performing Gender as a Promotional Model”, Sara Snitselar describes her experience in the marketing industry. Working as a promotional model, Snitselar is expected to successfully promote a product (which in this case is a wine, beer or spirit product), but above all, she is obligated to look good while doing so. Snitselar comments on the importance of her outward appearance in product promotion: “Our beguiling charm and our flirtatious demeanors (exaggerated by cleavage-exposing tops and tight-fitting miniskirts) are arguably more important than our ability to speak knowledgeably about the products we are promoting”(Snitselar). In Snitselar’s case, her job forces her to present an image that objectifies women for product promotion.

Futher, Snitselar observes the behavior of the potential consumers of the product she encounters on a daily basis. Upon receiving his sample from Snitselar and another promotional model, a man smirks, “I thought you were astrophysicists”(Snitselar). This joking attitude presents a stereotype that is deeply unsettling, yet painfully common: “It begins with the premise that all promotional models are essentially the same–uneducated, shallow, attention-starved, just a pretty face or a pair of long legs”(Snitselar). Or in other words, a woman who is a model could never be capable of astrophysics. As consumers, we recognize these stereotypes and accept them for what they are, and deem their presence as appropriate for the marketing industry. They are indeed part of the gender binary system that we still value in American culture today. Promotional models accept the focus on body image in the media and use it as a professional strategy in order to successfully promote their products. In conclusion, promotional models convey through their bodies society’s expectation of gender and embody the media’s success in gender-based marketing.