Portrayal of women in Beijing-area television commercials



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Texas Tech University


Television is the fastest growing advertising medium in China. In 1995, its business volume (6.498 billion yuan, equal to $812.25 million) for the second time in Chinese history surpassed that of newspaper (6.468 billion yuan, equal to $808.5 million), making television the number one advertising medium in the country (Cheng, 1997). Television stations emerge quickly. There is one nationwide television station (broadcast both by satellite and overland signals), twenty-seven provincial stations, more than 550 city stations. Cable television channels number more than 1000 and five foreign satellite television networks (JWT Shanghai). Beijing and Shanghai consumers are exposed to at least 650 TV commercials per week, while Guanzhou consumers are exposed to an estimated 800 or more TV commercials per week (JWT Shanghai). There is no doubt that television is gaining power to influence more and more consumers.

In this study, the researcher is interested in how Beijing-area television commercials portray women. Men and women have been used to promote products and services in advertisements since such advertising began. Previous studies have examined advertising's portrayals of women in the United States, and some have been done cross-culturally. Only one published study has been done on the gender role portrayed in Chinese advertising so far. At its fast growing pace, more studies of different aspects are needed for better understanding of the gender role portrayals in the Chinese advertising industry.