Gender portrayals in auto advertising (Part 2/2)

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This two part series explores the portrayals of women in automotive advertising. Read Part 1.

If you read Part 1, you know that automotive advertising has relied on female inadequacies to sell cars (see Buick). It’s still happening. TrueCar’s now infamous commercial, “A Better Way,” is one recent example of an automotive ad that highlights female inadequacies in a way that mirrors the “matter-of-fact” tone of the examples from the 1960’s. First aired in March of this year, the ad depicts several female characters talking about the difficulty of negotiation during the car-buying process.

It was panned here, here, here and their Facebook page. With the help of TrueCar, one woman says, “I don’t need to bring a dude with me.” Not only does the message of the commercial dismiss a woman’s ability to hold her own during the buying process, but it also suggests that car salesman prey on female customers as if they are as helpless as Little Red Riding Hood.

So here’s my question: why are these commercials being made?

The only answer I can come up with is that, fifty years ago, advertisers discovered an equation that worked and they feel that it is still working today. If the negative backlash that TrueCar has suffered since their ad is any indication, I would have to disagree. Despite the strong resistance to change evident in the content we have seen from GoDaddy and TrueCar, it is my hope that the influencers in the automotive advertising community will recognize the need to portray the female demographic in a manner that is more suited to the times.

Earlier this year, Chevrolet attempted to do just that with a commercial entitled “Her Horse” a compliment to their “Broken Fence” spot, which also aired this year.

Chevrolet “Her Horse”


I have mixed feelings about the result, but it is undeniable that the main character is nothing like the dithering housewives in the Buick and Goodyear commercials from the 1960’s, or the resignedly helpless women in the recent TrueCar commercial. Most impressively, Chevy managed to produce the commercial without including a single beaver shot. Sorry to disappoint, guys.


Written by Sam Jackson

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