n Gender and Behaviour - Rainbow nation, rainbow advertising? Racial diversity of female portrayals in South African television commercials

Volume 14 Number 1
  • ISSN : 1596-9231



The paper examines female portrayals in South African television commercials, with a focus on roles and race. Advertising portrayals are generally considered reflective of the gender and racial diversity of a nation; and should therefore represent the target audience. In a country that features historical racial inequalities, the realignment of proportional racial representation is important. The study content analysed 245 unduplicated television commercials that featured women. Women were most frequently portrayed as product users; and they featured most often in personal care-product advertising. Contrary to the social diversity of the people of South Africa, the racial representation in the analysed commercials was over-representative in terms of the minority White racial group. Advertisers need to realign the representation of the different racial groups in television commercials, since a large and lucrative market segment could well be alienated by the current misrepresentation of racial diversity in these commercials.

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