Ads sell more than objects;
they sell an intention.
The ad shown above is a vacuum cleaner ad from 1957. This ad forms part of the many sexist ads in that were created in the late 50s. According to Williamson, products when created have no meaning (14). Ads have the task of giving some meaning and personality to the product or the brand associated with it. This is done with the intention of getting the target market to buy the product. Since the 50s and 60s were characterized by a modernization of society, time saving machinery became a commodity for the market. Since a vacuum cleaner is exactly that, only a vacuum cleaner, to be able to sell, the product had to be differentiated.
This differentiation was achieved by a feminization of the product. Since the sexist roles of the 50s and 60s implied that women did all the house chores, it is not surprising to see that the ads reflected that. Evidently, this vacuum cleaner is aimed at women, who desire to have a simpler life by having a vacuum cleaner that is easier to use. This differentiating aspect is what the ad tries to convey by having the headline “Now – a Revolutionary New Vacuum Cleaner…” with the secondary headline “YOU NEVER HAVE TO LIFT!”
How are these ideas reinforced by the ad? In the first place, there is a well-dressed lady, probably representing the collective ideal of a house woman, well dressed and sexy. This ideally should tap onto the esteem needs (Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (Milliken 73)) of the women, thus creating the unconscious association that if that vacuum cleaner is bought, they may end looking like that.
In the second place, the challenging facial expression of the woman conveys me a “What are you waiting for?” tone, compelling the viewer to give it a try. Finally, the white space in the ad is properly used as it allows all the elements of the ad to stand out of the background, also giving us a feeling of clean, pure,...