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Sexism & objectifying women in advertisement in Lebanon

10-10-2013

The “Daily Star” newspaper published a report yesterday dealing with the widespread and provocative adverts promoting the idea of women as objects of violence, sexual aggression and mindless commodities, while highlighting the personal views on this matter expressed by selected designers working in international and national advertising agencies.
At first, the report pointed out to several examples of objectifying women that can be found in numerous advertisements and marketing campaigns commissioned by economic sectors , such as nightclubs, nut and confectionary companies, fashion industry, etc… These advertisements, according to the report, can be easily seen everywhere in street billboards and in social media. Nevertheless, some of the interviewed advertisers declined the responsibility and even regretted producing objectionable or distasteful material; arguing that often they are just complying and promoting the vision of their clients.
Claude El Khal, creative director for M&C Saatchi in the Middle East and North Africa, told “The Daily Star”, that in final instance, he is answerable only to his clients and as such his policy is not to argue with them, even if the concept is contrary to his own beliefs.
From his part, Marc Daou, chief operating officer at the Rizk Group, another leading Lebanese advertising firm with operations throughout the region, stated that there is in the industry an over-reliance on stereotypes and on a shock approach in an effort to attract consumers, while acknowledging that there are no ethical standards for working in this industry.
For his part, and while attempting to clarify the shock factor, Jad Melki, director of the Media Studies department at the American University of Beirut, said that the consumer reaches a point where the shock factor ceases to have any effect and thus become normal, adding that while sexism in advertising is a worldwide phenomena, it is worse in Lebanon because of the lack of regulation, watchdogs and weak public awareness. Melki warned against children, especially girls, growing up with such visual messages which force them to value their looks, bodies, hair, the way they are dressed up, instead of valuing other elements in their personality that make them "human". He concluded by saying that such advertisements not only affect women’s own emotional well-being, but also have the potential to affect their physical health, noting that increased awareness through school programs and denouncing companies that indulge in such practices, may be the best solution to combat sexism in advertising.
Source: The Daily Star 9 October 2013

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