Sex Roles

, Volume 58, Issue 11–12, pp 752–760

Gender Representation in Television Advertisements in Britain and Saudi Arabia

Original Article


This study conducted a content analysis of TV adverts from Channel One in Saudi Arabia and ITV1 in the United Kingdom in 2000–2001. A total of 164 adverts were analyzed from each country. The analysis compared the representation of men and women. Results showed that men and women were equally visually represented as lead characters in advertisements in both countries, but male voice-overs dominated in Saudi advertisements more so than in British advertisements. Women appeared more often in domestic roles and settings and less often in occupational or leisure roles and settings, and were much more likely than men to promote body care and household cleaning products. These differences were more pronounced in Saudi than in British advertisements.


Gender representation Television advertising Cross-cultural 


  1. Al-Makaty, S., Van Tubergen, G., Whitlow, S., & Boyd, D. (1996). Attitude toward advertising in Islam. Journal of Advertising Research, 36, 16–26.Google Scholar
  2. Al-Saud, S. (1997). Altahleel alsosyoulogi litaatheer aliilan altelfisioni ala anmat alistihlak fee alosrah alsaudia’. [Sociological impact of television advertising on consumption levels in Saudi families]. Unpublished Doctoral dissertation, University of Cairo, Cairo.Google Scholar
  3. Al-Sharif, S. (1994). Children in Saudi television adverts. Journal of Gulf and Arabian Peninsula Studies, 73, 73–115.Google Scholar
  4. Al-Yusuf, A. (1989). Commercial advertising in Saudi Arabia: A content analysis. Unpublished master’s thesis, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL.Google Scholar
  5. Arima, A. N. (2003). Gender stereotypes in Japanese television advertisements. Sex Roles, 49, 81–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Assael, H. (1998). Consumer Behavior: And Marketing Action. Cincinnati, OH: International Thomson Publishing.Google Scholar
  7. Bartsch, R. A., Burnett, T., Diller, T. R., & Rankin-Williams, E. (2000). Gender representation in television commercials: Updating an update. Sex Roles, 43, 735–743.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Belk, R. W., & Pollay, R. (1985). Materialism and status appeals in Japanese and U.S. print advertising: A historical and cross-cultural content analysis. International Marketing Review, 2(12), 38–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bresnahan, M. J., Inoue, Y., Liu, W. Y., & Nisihida, T. (2001). Changing gender roles in prime-time commercials in Malaysia, Japan, Taiwan, and the United States. Sex Roles, 45, 117–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Brettl, D., & Cantor, J. (1988). The portrayal of men and women in US television commercials: A recent content analysis and trends over 15 years. Sex Roles, 18, 595–609.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cheng, H., & Schweitzer, J. (1996). Cultural values reflected in Chinese and U.S. television commercials. Journal of Advertising Research, 36, 27–45.Google Scholar
  12. Courtney, A. E., & Whipple, T. W. (1974). Women in TV commercials. Journal of Communication, 24, 110–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Culley, J. A., & Bennett, R. (1976). Selling women, selling Blacks. Journal of Communication, 26, 160–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Delener, N. (1994). Religious contrasts in consumer decision behaviour patterns: Their dimensions and marketing implications. European Journal of Marketing, 28, 36–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dispenza, J. (1975). Advertising the American Woman. Dayton, Ohio: Dayton Publishing.Google Scholar
  16. Dominick, J., & Rauch, G. (1972). The image of women in network TV commercials. Journal of Broadcasting, 17, 259–266.Google Scholar
  17. Downs, A., & Harrison, S. (1985). Embarrassing age spots or just plain ugly: Physical attractiveness stereotyping as an instrument of genderism on American television commercials. Sex Roles, 13, 9–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Durkin, K. (1985a). Television and sex-role acquisition: 1. Content. British Journal of Social Psychology, 24, 101–113.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Durkin, K. (1985b). Television, Sex Roles and Children. Milton Keynes, UK: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Durkin, K. (1985c). Television and sex-role acquisition 3: Counter-stereotyping. British Journal of Social Psychology, 24, 211–222.Google Scholar
  21. Ferrante, C., Haynes, A., & Kingsley, S. (1988). Image of women in television advertising. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 32, 231–237.Google Scholar
  22. Furnham, A., & Bitar, N. (1993). The stereotyped portrayal of men and women in British television advertisements. Sex Roles, 29, 297–310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Furnham, A., & Farragher, E. (2000). A cross-cultural content analysis of sex-role stereotyping in television advertisements: A comparison between Britain and New Zealand. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 44, 415–436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Furnham, A., & Mak, T. (1999). Sex-role stereotyping in television commercials: A review and comparison of 14 studies done on five continents over 25 years. Sex Roles, 41, 413–437.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Furnham, A., Mak, T., & Tanidjojo, L. (2000). An Asian perspective on the portrayal of men and women in television advertisements: Studies from Hong Kong and Indonesian television. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 30, 2341–2364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Furnham, A., & Schofeld, S. (1986). Sex-role stereotyping in British radio advertisements. British Journal of Social Psychology, 25, 165–171.Google Scholar
  27. Furnham, A., & Skae, E. (1997). Portrayals of men and women in British television advertisements. European Psychologist, 2, 14–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Furnham, A., & Voli, V. (1989). Gender stereotyping in Italian television advertisements. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 33, 175–185.Google Scholar
  29. Geis, F. L., Brown, V., Jennings (Walstedt), J., & Porter, N. (1984). TV commercials as achievement scripts for women. Sex Roles, 10, 513–525.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Gilly, M. (1988). Gender roles in advertising: A comparison on television advertisements in Australia, Mexico, and the United States. Journal of Marketing, 52, 75–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Gunter, B. (1995). Television and gender representation. Luton, UK: John Libbey.Google Scholar
  32. Holsti, O. R. (1969). Content analysis for the social sciences and humanities. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  33. Kim, K., & Lowry, D. T. (2005). Television commercials as a lagging social indicator: Gender role stereotypes in Korean television advertising. Sex Roles, 49, 545–551.Google Scholar
  34. Krippendorf, K. (1980). Content analysis. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  35. Livingstone, S., & Green, G. (1986). Television advertisements and the portrayal of gender. British Journal of Social Psychology, 25, 149–154.Google Scholar
  36. Lovdal, L. (1989). Gender roles messages in television commercials: An update. Sex Roles, 21, 715–724.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Mackay, N. J., & Covell, K. (1997). The impact of women in advertisements on attitudes toward women. Sex Roles, 36, 573–583.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Manstead, A. S., & McCulloch, C. (1981). Sex-role stereotyping in British television advertisements. British Journal of Social Psychology, 20, 171–180.Google Scholar
  39. Maracek, J., Piliavin, J., Fitzsimmons, E., Krogh, E., Leader, E., & Trudell, B. (1978). Women as TV experts: The voice of authority? Journal of Communication, 28, 159–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Marghalani, K., Palmgreen, P., & Boyd, D. (1998). The utilization of direct satellite broadcasting (DBS) in Saudi Arabia. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 42, 297–314.Google Scholar
  41. Mazzella, C., Durkin, K., Cerini, E., & Buralli, P. (1992). Sex-role stereotyping in Australian television advertisements. Sex Roles, 26, 243–259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. McArthur, L. Z., & Resko, B. G. (1975). The portrayal of men and women in American television commercials. Journal of Social Psychology, 11, 109.Google Scholar
  43. Mooij, M. (1998). Global marketing and advertising: Understanding cultural paradoxes. London: Sage Publications Ltd.Google Scholar
  44. Mwangi, M. (1996). Gender roles portrayed in Kenyan television commercials. Sex Roles, 34, 205–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Neto, F., & Pinto, I. (1998). Gender stereotypes in Portuguese television advertisements. Sex Roles, 39, 153–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. O’Donnell, W. J., & O’Donnell, K. J. (1978). Update: Gender role messages in TV commercials. Journal of Communication, 28, 156–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Pan Arab Research Centre Report (May, 2001), Retrieved July 21st, 2001 from
  48. Pollay, R. (1983). Measuring the cultural values manifest in advertising. In: J. H. Leigh & C. R. Martin Jr. (Eds.), Current Issues and Research in Advertising, 6, 71–92, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Graduate School of Business Division Research.Google Scholar
  49. Rak, D. S., & McMullen, L. M. (1987). Sex-role stereotyping in television commercials: A verbal response mode and content analysis. Canada Journal of Behavioural Science, 19, 25–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Razzouk, N., & Al-Khatib, J. (1993). The nature of television advertising in Saudi Arabia: Content analysis and marketing implication. Journal of International Consumer Marketing, 6, 65–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Schenider, K. C., & Schneider, S. B. (1979). Trends in gender roles in television commercials. Journal of Marketing, 43, 79–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Shoham, A. (1996). Effectiveness of standardised and adapted television advertising: An international field study approach. Journal of International Consumer Marketing, 9, 5–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Smith, A. (1995). Television: An International History. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  54. Srikandath, S. (1991). Cultural values in Indian television advertising. Gazette, 48, 165–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Thoveron, G. (1987). How women are represented in television programmes in the EEC: Part One; Images of women in news, advertising and series and serials. Brussels: Commission of the European Communities.Google Scholar
  56. Uray, N., & Burnaz, S. (2003). An analysis of the portrayal of gender roles in Turkish television advertisements. Sex Roles, 48, 77–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Usunier, J. C. (1996). Marketing across cultures. Hertfordshire: Prentice Hall Europe.Google Scholar
  58. Venkatesan, M., & Losco, J. (1975). Women in magazine ads. Journal of Advertising Research, 15(5), 49–54.Google Scholar
  59. Whitelock, J., & Chung, D. (1989). Cross-cultural advertising: An empirical study. International Journal of Advertising, 8, 291–310.Google Scholar
  60. Zenith Optimedia (2001). Annual December Forecast of Global Advertising Expenditure to 2004. London, UK: Author 3rd December.Google Scholar
  61. Zhang, Y. B., & Harwood, J. (2004). Modernization and tradition in an age of globalization: Cultural values in Chinese television commercials. Journal of Communication, 54(1), 156–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of LeicesterLeicesterUK

Personalised recommendations