For my dissertation, I researched the effect of sexualised social media advertisements on consumer behaviour, specifically the perceived product attractiveness, attitudes towards the brand, and purchase intention.
My interest in this topic originated from personal experience and exposure to unnecessarily sexualised advertisements, in which women are often the object of sexualisation; Nicole Scherzinger’s Müller yoghurt adverts immediately spring to mind. I believed the focus on social media would provide interesting insights as brands are increasingly utilising these platforms to connect with consumers, but also because branded content on social media is not always recognised as advertisement, so is less regulated.
My research revealed that the sexualisation of women in social media advertisements negatively affected both male and female-identifying participants’ consumer behaviour. Although the effect was greater on the female-identifying participants, I was pleased to see that the results of my research question current sexualised marketing strategies and indicate that the sexualisation of women in advertisements is counterproductive. I hope that my research will encourage marketing professionals to create social media content that avoids sexualisation. Furthermore, I hope my research highlights the need for sexualisation in social media advertising to be acknowledged and addressed by public policy discourse.
Finding out that my dissertation has been awarded the Institute of Data and Marketing’s Derek Holder Dissertation Award was definitely a shock but was a brilliant note to end my studies on and made all the hard work even more meaningful.
The University of Bristol’s Marketing degree course has equipped me with the skills and knowledge to compete in today’s digital age, which will provide a strong foundation for my career as I begin my role as a Digital Marketing Executive this September.
Jemma Dunphy, BSc Marketing alumna and recipient of the IDM’s Derek Holder Dissertation Award 2022.