Susana de Andrés & Rosa L. Maestro Segovia (Spain) - PDF

Received: Reviewed: Accepted: DOI: /C Susana de Andrés & Rosa L. Maestro Segovia (Spain) RECYT Code: Preprint: Publication:

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Received: Reviewed: Accepted: DOI: /C Susana de Andrés & Rosa L. Maestro Segovia (Spain) RECYT Code: Preprint: Publication: Critical Analysis of Government vs. Commercial Advertising Discourse on Older Persons in Spain Análisis crítico del discurso publicitario institucional/comercial sobre las personas mayores en España Abstract The elderly population has increased considerably in recent years and it is estimated that by % of the Spanish population will be older persons. This group is underrepresented in the media and does not attract much research interest. To put this right, we present an analysis of the representation of older persons in advertisements appearing in magazines aimed directly or indirectly at seniors in Spain. A content analysis estimated the frequency of appearance of the images and words that represent the elderly, and a discourse analysis enabled this study to investigate the presence of stereotypes and discourse relations between advertising and theories of ageing. The results show that the older people who appear in the ads are mostly men portrayed as consumers of entertainment products who are at the beginning of their period of old age. A marked gender stereotype is observed. The differentiation between the institutional and commercial advertising discourse is also clear. The study analyses such advertising over three decades, covering the period in which the age distribution of the population has been inverted in Spain. Throughout this period, the frequency of appearance has been very low. Older persons are clearly an invisible collective in magazine advertising. Resumen La población de personas mayores se ha multiplicado en los últimos años. Se estima que en el año 2050, el 32% de la población española estará constituido por personas mayores. Mientras tanto, es fácil observar la infrarrepresentación de este colectivo en los medios de comunicación, pero la cuestión apenas recibe interés investigador. Se presenta aquí un análisis de la representación de las personas mayores en la publicidad de dominicales y revistas dirigidas directa o indirectamente a las personas mayores en España. A través de un análisis de contenido se calcula la frecuencia con que se recurre a la imagen de los y las mayores en la publicidad. Mediante un análisis del discurso se indaga también en la presencia de estereotipos y en las relaciones discursivas entre los mensajes publicitarios y las teorías de la vejez. Los resultados muestran que las personas ma- yores que aparecen en los anuncios son mayoritariamente varones, que inician su periodo de vejez y consumidores de productos de ocio. Se encuentra un marcado estereotipo de género y una clara diferenciación discursiva entre los mensajes comerciales y los institucionales. El estudio analiza tres décadas, abarcando el periodo en el que se ha producido la inversión poblacional en la distribución por edades en España. En todo este periodo la frecuencia de aparición ha sido muy baja. Se trata de un colectivo de patente invisibilidad en los anuncios publicitarios. Keywords / Palabras clave Older persons, social images, advertising, discourse, gender stereotypes, representations, social change. Mayores, imágenes sociales, publicidad, discurso, estereotipos de género, modos de representación, contextos de cambio. Dr. Susana de Andrés is member of the Chair in Gender Studies at the University of Valladolid (Spain) and Associate Professor of the College of Legal, Social and Communication Sciences at the (Campus María Zambrano, Segovia) (University of Valladolid) Rosa de Lima Maestro is a PhD candidate in the «Analysis of Advertising Communication in the Information and Knowledge Society» program of the University of Valladolid. Campus María Zambrano, Segovia (Spain) 1. Introduction. Old age will define the 21 st century (and its form of communication?) One of the social changes that best describes our context is progressive population ageing. Global life expectancy has increased to 69.8 years of age, while fertility has dropped to 2.6 children per woman (UN, 2007). The population aged 60 and over is expected to triple, and those over 80 to quadruple by 2050 (UN, 2009). A global demographic transition appears to be underway. The elderly population is three times larger in developed than in developing countries, and these percentages will continue to grow (Giró, 2004: 30). Europe will soon have the largest population in the world in terms of old age. In Spain, life expectancy at birth has grown progressively from 75 years in 1980 to more than 81 in (UNDP, 2011) and Spain s National Statistics Institute (INE) estimates that older persons will form at least a third of the population by By that date, the United Nations projects that Spain will be second only to Japan in the number of old persons (Barrio & Abellán, 2009). These statistics assume that old age begins at retirement age Thus, statistical indicators use economic and labor criteria to divide up the age segments. But when old age begins is arbitrary; other criteria (Giró, 2004: 24) put it at 50 or 55, taking into account biological, health economic and social changes, which only goes to show that old age is defined by social conventions: «We know that the problem of old age is not strictly a biological, medical or physical issue but social and cultural; that is to say, old age, its meaning, is a cultural construction» (Giró, 2004: 19). Old age is a social construction (Kehl & Fernández, 2001), a cultural fact (Beauvoir, 1989: 20), a matter of images and attitudes (Iruzubieta, 2004: 77). A specific field of study about the social construction of old age has been the analysis of its images and meanings (Featherstone & Wernick, 1995) and, more specifically, the images transmitted by the media (Santamarina, 2004). A number of publications have pointed out the importance of the media in this social construction (Kehl & Fernández, 2001: 133) and recently, the analysis of older persons representation in the Spanish press has attracted particular interest (Polo, 2006; Becerril, 2011). At the Second World Assembly on Ageing held in Madrid in 2002, the then UN head Kofi Annan said that, since the previous Assembly in 1982, the world had changed so much that it was unrecognizable (UN, 2003: IV). This United Nations strategy called for governments and civil society to reshape the way older persons are perceived, expressly including the media (article 17: 6) as environment makers. The analysis of older persons representation in advertising is still not an object of specific study in Spanish scientific literature, though it has been researched in the USA since the 70s (Smith, 1976; Swayne & Greco, 1987). The different analyses show a stereotypical picture, often with negative connotations and underrepresentation in advertisements. 2. Research approach The present study aims to analyse how advertising discourse, with its particular structures and content strategies, has shaped the image or social role of older persons in recent decades. The objectives are the analysis of the visual and verbal representation of older persons in advertising, and the study of discursive divergences between commercial and institutional advertising. As a working hypothesis, this study considers the remarkable invisibility of older persons in advertising, one of the most numerous social groups in Spain. The aim is to quantify this visibility/invisibility in advertisements to test the hypothesis and then investigate a possible discursive difference between commercial and institutional advertising. An analysis of the main differences in the representation of men and women is also considered, anticipating a possible gender-based stereotyped treatment in advertising. This was done by means of an analysis of images and text. As a methodological guide to analyze this set of representations and discourses we used content analysis and critical discourse analysis (CDA), considering the definition by Van-Dijk (1999: 22): «Critical discourse analysis is a kind of analytic investigation on discourse that primarily studies the way in which the abuse of social power, domination and inequality are practiced, reproduced and occasionally combated by texts and speech in the social and political context. Critical discourse analysis, with such a particular investigation, explicitly takes sides, expecting to contribute in a more effective way to the resistance against social inequality.» Critical discourse analysis reveals communication acts that promote social inequality. It also reveals the distance in communication between emitter and audiences. In the advertisements analyzed, it is clear that their creators and decision makers are probably not older persons, so the advertisements discourse is a speech act about «them» or about «others». Mass media, including advertising, make it possible to establish a link between plural emitters representing social and economic powers (the state, corporations and economic agents) and the audience who daily build and validate social concepts and self-concepts. Numerical data as well as relationships between advertising s argumentation of private and public emitters and the models of old age they refer to will be extracted from the application of this mixed modeling. «Discourses are interpreted as elements with a coherent relationship to the users mental models about the events or facts they refer to», (Van-Dijk, 2003:165). It is known that discourse structures are related to context structures. Hence the usefulness of analysis categories which enable us to find relationships with social structures. This observation in advertising discourse provides a theoretical framework to study the present discursive production that asserts the present social status of older persons. In this study advertising messages are analyzed at micro level, to relate them to the macro level, in the framework of the theories of social gerontology Sample design Considering when a discourse becomes historical, this analysis covers an extended period of time ( ) which can be considered a stage in communication history (Timoteo, 2012), a stage of economic study (Sanchís-Marco, 2011) and as a period of diachronic analysis in the recent history of international development 1. This period corresponds to a progressive increase in the highest life expectancy rates in history and population ageing. The year 2001 was a turning point in the demographic history of Spain. Since then, the percentage of the population over 65 has exceeded the child population percentage. (Abellán & Ayala: 2012: 6). This study analyzes advertisements in the non-daily press in Spain. Specific supports aimed at older persons have been selected («Vivir con Júbilo», «Sesenta y más») as well as general supports with a larger readership of older persons (Sunday supplements such as «Blanco y Negro» 2, «EPS: El País Semanal») and a magazine from the pharmaceutical sector (Acófar). All the advertisements that visually or verbally represent older persons have been collected. Non-repeated advertisements appearing within the stated period in all editions, in the case of monthly magazines, have been analyzed. In the case of weeklies, one copy per month has been selected. The total number of advertisements analyzed was 1,691. According to the AIMC (Spanish Association for the Investigation of the Media), people over 55 constitute 33.2% of the readership of supplements and 25% of the total readership of magazines (2011). This segment is a big consumer of general press media and is also a focus for institutional advertising, as pointed out in the 6 th report of the Committee for Institutional Advertising and Communication in Advertising images and texts provide useful material for analysis as both projector and viewer of these constructions. It could be said that advertising acts as a converter of these ideas into images and representational conventions. These representations revert back to social imagery and can reshape our mental images Analysis model When the study interest focuses on the analysis of the role of discourse in the reproduction of ideas about social groups, the forms of meaning must be analyzed. This requires a content analysis (Van Dijk, 2003: 149) that identifies the topics, propositions and elements selected. These three aspects have been identified as relevant for advertising discourse analysis regarding the role of older persons in our society. In terms of advertising s construction of messages, correspondence has been established that includes topics or fields related to information or consumption, thematic proposals, and words or phrases related to old age. Such elements have been filtered in categories for an interpretative analysis of the observed content. Furthermore, images in which older persons are represented have been analyzed, taking into consideration the gender, age segment and appearance, either alone or living with other people. The type of emitter has also been analysed in order to make a comparative study between institutional and commercial advertising. 3. Results and analysis The following data have been drawn from the application of the content analysis model designed to facilitate a discourse analysis. These results are then related to the theories of ageing drawn from social gerontology studies, taking into account the remarkably interpretative character of the discourse analysis processes. (Íñiguez, 2006: 121). Several aspects of the context pointed out by Van-Dijk (1996: 30) have been integrated in the analysis model, such as subperiods of age, gender, lexicalization, descriptions of activity, proposition and topics (this last aspect has been incorporated into the present study and applied to advertising as a thematic proposal of the advertisement and area of consumption) Invisibilities A key research finding is the patent invisibility of older persons in advertising, especially if we bear in mind that the supports analyzed are aimed at an elderly audience, in a specific or general way. After reviewing at least 35,000 advertisements, only 1,691 included any representation of older persons. Invisibility is perhaps the most common exercise of symbolic violence in communication when talking about disadvantaged groups. This is the case with older persons, which is even more unusual if we bear in mind that they are not a minority. In Spain the population pyramid is clearly inverted. Only 4.8% of the advertisements studied represented older persons 3. It is also significant that in magazines exclusively aimed at older persons («Vivir con Júbilo», «Sesenta y Más») this percentage only reaches 27 and 40%, respectively. But we have to take into consideration that so-called old age covers a wide age range. It seems to include at least two or three intermediate age groups. Some studies make a distinction between old age and very old age (Sánchez Vera, 1996) or between «young old» and older old, an age that would begin at 80 («oldest old», in UN terms). This age range has seen the biggest increase in population terms in Spain. People over 80 represented 29% of the population over 65 in 2009, and it is estimated that they will soon be 36.8% of the total elderly population (IMSER- SO, 2010: 32). In contrast, only 4% of the older persons represented in adver- tisements belonged to the group of the oldest old. Most images represented the young old (60%), from 60 to 75 years of age approximately. In their study, Bradley and Longino (2001) related this stereotype of young old to the so-called age mask hypothesis, according to which older persons see themselves as younger than they in fact are. This finding reflects the projective intention of advertising s images and messages, and is a starting point for the debate on cognitive and biological age. Stephens (1991) talked about the usefulness and potential of the cognitive age concept for the creation of advertising targets. Functionalist theories of old age sociology explain that age classification is a structural element to which several functions are assigned. Advertising takes account of this logic in the framework of the age stratification theory, according to which self-esteem at each stage is conditioned by the roles it plays (Belando, 2007). The thematic proposal of advertising messages is fun, relaxation or hope in the case of the young old, and becomes a proposal for assistance in the oldest age range. Self-esteem and autonomy are persuasive arguments aimed mainly at the young old. The invisibility of persons in the oldest old range in commercial advertising as well as its relation to the idea of dependency is a characteristic of «ageism» (Fernández-Ballesteros, 2011: 138), or discrimination towards that social group. Table 1. Number of main figures represented. Total frequencies by age group and the promise projected in the message Age group Thematic proposal (promise) Various Over 80 Total Assistance, functional Self-esteem Autonomy Fun, relaxation, hope Information, awareness Total Lexical study. Old age: an advertising taboo Invisibility is also apparent in advertising texts. The work of the copy writer seems to be to avoid mentioning old age explicitly. As a consequence, older persons are not mentioned in advertising, and 56.6% of advertisements whose subject is older persons avoid mentioning any words that identify them as such. In the cases in which it is lexicalized, they use the word mayores (seniors), in 8.9% of cases, or the description of the age: elderly, golden age, a man who has aged well, etc. (3.7%). Neither the words old age nor words in the same lexical family appear, not even in advertisements aimed at that age group. In contrast, it is easy to check how the words old age and others related to an elderly physical appearance such as wrinkles, white hairs and flaccidity are common in adverts for female cosmetics. Old age has become a term used in the advertising model of consumerism in the context of fear of ageing 4. This paradox shows that the repre- sentation of images of older persons in advertising is not linked to the use of the term that identifies them, rather, the word old age appears next to images denoting youth Older persons and the representation of their dependency / independence Institutional advertising tends to represent the older person in the company of others, as was the case with 49% of the institutional advertisements analyzed, while only 30% showed the older person alone. The issue of the social creation of dependency in old age has already been discussed 5, and this is the idea behind the discourse of institutional advertising. One of the theories of the sociology of gerontology arises from symbolic interactionism and goes by the name of labeling theory. From that perspective, one of the labels assigned to older persons is dependency (in the sense that it is a kind of anomaly). Table 2. Number of main figures represented. Total frequencies by type of advertiser and representation of the older person in relation to others. Representation of the older person in relation to others Type of advertiser In family/others, with people of different ages Couple Alone Total Political advertiser Private, commercial Institutional Social: NGO, foundation Total In contrast, the analysis of advertisements made by private and commercial advertisers revealed that 65% represented an older person alone or in a couple. They are the «young old», independent people, a representation far removed from the stereotype that relates old age to dependency. Such occurrences are broadcast mainly in the form of commercial advertising and tend to exclude very old people Gender stereotypes in the representation of older persons Despite the fact that the increase in life expectancy brings about the feminization of the elderly population
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