Positive vs. Negative Gender Stereotypes in Marketing

Marketing uses gender stereotypes to hyper target specific populations. Using gender stereotypes in marketing can be successful when done right. But using stereotypes treads a fine line between acceptable and the unacceptable campaigns. Marketers can choose to either perpetuate or correct gender stereotypes. They can also choose whether to portray negative gender stereotypes or positive gender stereotypes. It is vital for marketers to make a distinction between what types of stereotypes they are using.

By taking a look at 3 different marketing campaigns one can see the positive and negative impacts of stereotypes. The three case studies discussed here are Nine West’s 2014 campaign, Victoria Secret’s “Perfect Body”, and Alway’s “Like A Girl”. All 3 use gender stereotypes in different ways.

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Nine West, which sells women’s shoes and accessories was the first case study analyzed. In 2014 they published a series of ads depicting women in their shoes and accessories in a variety of situations. The ads included slogans such as “Starter Husband Hunting”, “Anticipatory Walk of Shame”, “Copycat Fight”, “Drunch”, and “First Day of Kindergarten”. Slogans such as these imply that the only occasions women have to buy shoes are to impress men, to hide their sexuality, to fight other women, to day drink, and to drop their kids off at kindergarten. Nine West’s marketing department must have been watching too much of AMC’s misogynistic “Mad Men” to come up with ideas such as these. Not only are the ideas outdated, they are also offensive.


The campaign is what men say about women, not what women say about women. By taking away the power of women and giving it to men, these ads lack freedom and dignity. From the deontologists perspective the ads do not foster, preserve, or respect the humanity of women. The ads instead transform the modern woman into a simple minded, catty, and dated version of a woman.


In the second case study, Victoria Secret’s “Body by Victoria” campaign is another example of how marketing misrepresents women. The ad depicts 10 thin models as having the “Perfect Body”. They utilized the models to capitalize on the ideal body that men want women to have, and not the actual bodies that women have. Less than 5% of women are the tall, skinny, yet curvy models depicted in the ad. Labeling 5% of women as having the “perfect” body promotes negative body images in the other 95% of women who don’t. Negative body image can lead to issues such as eating disorders, low self-esteem, and depression.


As individuals around the world have taken measures to help promote healthier body image, Victoria Secret has not. They managed to jump from the slogan “I Love My Body” in 2012 to this exclusionary slogan. Victoria Secret did manage to change the slogan to “A Body For Every Body” after realizing the error of their ways. Yet, they still have the same models plastered all over their marketing materials.

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From the Utilitarianism perspective the “Perfect Body” campaign does not provide the greatest amount of happy for the greatest number. The ad makes less than 5% of women happy, and provides men with unrealistic expectations of what women should look like. There were many photos taken in response to Victoria Secret’s photo. These responses are more accurate portrayals of the average woman. While Victoria Secret is not likely to use “plus” size models for their lingerie, if they did they would be making a greater amount of women happier and healthier.

There are other campaigns out there that have fought against negative gender stereotypes like Dove’s “Real Beauty” and Always’ “Like A Girl”. Unlike the previous two case studies discussed, these campaigns are women positive. Women positive means that they promulgate positive stereotypes about women.

For thousands of years women were the “weaker” sex. While men are not built the same as women, women are not any less human than men. There are women that can out compete men, and visa versa. Always asks a boy, a man, a young woman, and a girl to carry out certain tasks “like a girl”. What that half of the ad shows is how “like a girl” can be a perpetuation of the negative gender stereotype that females are “weaker” than males. Then they ask other girls to do the same things “like a girl” and these girls end up going all out, showing that the phrase can be a positive gender stereotype.


There is the easy way and then there is the right way. Always chose the right way. From a virtue ethics perspective Always succeeded because they did the right thing by taking a negative gender stereotype and turning it into a positive one. The phrase “like a girl” can be detrimental to young girls. Just like there is nothing wrong with being gay, there is nothing wrong with being a girl. And for young girls to hear that there is something wrong with being who they are, based off the fact that they were born is not acceptable. Always caught onto the negative connotation of the phrase and used it to empower girls, women, and sell their products which are all targeted towards females.

All three case studies examined show that marketers should consider their use of negative or positive gender stereotypes. The effects of the Nine West and Victoria Secret campaigns are detrimental to women. With more careful research and thought they could avoid negative impacts on their target market. As for Always, they used the right amount of research and thought to pull off a successful marketing campaign. It is almost impossible for marketers to avoid gender stereotypes, yet they should make sure that they use positive versus negative stereotypes.


Networking Do’s & Don’ts

Networking is a very important marketing tool as a way to establish beneficial partnerships and generating new business. Whether it is an informal coffee or an extravagant event there are certain actions that you should be taking and certain actions that you should not be taking in order to optimize your networking experience. Networking itself has the ability to open doors for your business, increase word-of-mouth, gain you free advice and other advantages, or gain your business credibility. Whether you are a professional networker or a “newbie” you want to form connections with your neighbors and your competitors to improve your niche in the market place.

I have taken the liberty of writing down the tips that I have accumulated over the years, so here are some do’s and don’ts to aid you in your networking efforts:


  • Put your best foot forward- Chances are everyone else in the room is just as nervous as you are. Take a deep breath, smile, and make eye contact as you engage with others. Something as simple as a smile and eye contact can convey confidence, while making you feel confident at the same time.
  • “Elevator Pitch”- Have a concise and easily understandable description of your business and your position in the business on hand. Remember other professionals may not use some of the same terminology that you do in your business. I constantly practice and time my pitches down to 90 seconds.
  • Business cards- Make sure to have enough business cards with you, because they are a great way to stay in contact with those that you meet. Write down the time and place that you met an individual, or some details so that you can personalize your conversation later on.
  • Follow up- Follow up, they gave you their information for a reason. Use it! Even if it doesn’t lead to anything, you will have tried and practiced following up for future occasions.
  • Listen and learn- Don’t just talk, take the time to ask questions and learn from others. Also listening will allow you to better learn how to network with others. I like to make sure to use their name when interacting with them to let them know that I was paying attention, and yes sometimes I have to cheat by reading their name tag.
  • Quid-pro-quo- Like in most relationships both parties should benefit. Offer free help, favors, advice or reduced cost services and watch how you’ll get them in return.
  • Patience is a virtue- Networking does not produce immediate life long connections, you need to be patient and nurture those. Like I said before make sure you follow up and offer them something in return.
  • Prepare questions- Come prepared with material for the individuals that you anticipate meeting. Think about what they would like to share and what you would like to learn.


  • Don’t be timid- You will never make more connections if you only talk to the people that you already know, but it is okay to ask them to introduce you to others that they may be more familiar with. Step out of your comfort zone, and eventually overtime you will push its boundaries.
  • Don’t only speak to one person- Limit the amount of time you spend talking to people. Think of networking almost like speed dating, you’re meeting more than one person in a limited amount of time. Chances are you both want to move on to meet other people in order to make the most of the event.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions- You may be afraid that your questions will come across as ignorant, but don’t be. People love to talk about themselves and what they know.
  • Avoid overzealous self-promotion- There is a fine line between confidence and cockiness. Don’t be that annoying overzealous person at the party, it’s not cool.
  • Don’t forget to follow up- Again, following up is one of the most important parts of building a professional connection. Even if it is a lead that you don’t think will lead to anything, practice your skills.
  • Don’t get drunk- At most networking events there is often alcohol. While you may feel nervous and in need of “liquid courage” limit yourself, being drunk will only destroy your credibility. I usually cut myself off after two, but that varies depending on the length of the event.

What about social media networking?

Social media is also a hugely valuable networking resource. Whether it is LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. social media allows you to network with people who you may never meet in person. However, it is important to remember that networking over the Internet should be approached differently than in person networking.

Here are some things to keep in mind when reaching out to others over social media:

  • Where are they?- Find their preferred social network and reach out to them through that channel. Because of the amount of people with access to social media communities it is important to initiate any networking. Think about it as being in a ballroom filled with 100+ people and really only wanting to talk to one of them. Chances are that they will not come to you, but that you will have to go to them.
  • Less is more- Like in in-person networking make your pitch brief and impactful. With so many social media channels available it is important to standout without taking up their valuable time.
  • Don’t expect a response- Through social media you may not always get a response. Simply open the door, but do not push them through it.
  • What does your profile says about you?- Make sure all your social media channels are as impressive as possible. Chances are if you reach out to them on one, they will see your profile or find your other profiles. Ask yourself, would a future employer like to see or read this?

The Fearless Wisdom of Guest Speaker Stu McGowan

When Stu McGowan walked into our classroom with his dyed yellow hair, relaxed attire, and tattoos I was not sure what to think. I had never heard of him before but he is the owner of Shoeless Management/Construction. He is the man in charge of taking houses in the Old North End (O.N.E.) of Burlington, Vermont and transforming them. What came out of his mouth for the next hour and fifteen minutes astounded me. Despite Stu’s first impression, the insights that he offered myself and other students were born of experience.


Stu McGowan himself, clearly being fearless.

Stu himself took an unconventional route to his current state of success. Whether it was the fact that he openly admits to knocking up his college professor or the fact that he took several years off while his wife provided for his family, Stu’s journey is inspirational. He triumphed through not being “normal”. But then again is there really any such thing as being normal? Stu began in film, then took years off while he worked to establish his current real estate business, a really successful real estate business in fact.

Unlike most speakers that have graced our class with their presence, Stu was there to not only talk but listen as well. He asked each of us, what we are currently doing or planning. Many times as a young professional I have been asked, “What are you doing after graduation?” It is a question that I used to dread answering, but Stu changed that. He didn’t try to tell us what we should be doing; he tried to give us encouragement in doing what we currently are doing.

Then he told us, that we shouldn’t be afraid. Not being afraid was the one sentiment that resonated with me the most. Thinking about it, fear is the only factor holding me back from doing what I really want to do with my life. I am scared of going off into the world after graduation, I am scared of not liking my current chosen profession, I am scared that I will not have enough money, I am scared that I will regret my current decisions and that I will miss out on chances I could have otherwise taken.

So as I go about the last month of my college career I am debating whether or not to be fearless. To go after my wildest dreams uninhibited or to not, that is the question that lingers in my mind. What will it be?

The Conversation on Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence

Over the past few weeks there has been a lot of controversy surrounding #TheDress. My first thoughts on #TheDress were that it was a ridiculous thing to be trending on the Internet. My thoughts can be summed up by my tweet:

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However, when I saw that the South African branch of the Salvation Army used #TheDress in a campaign against the abuse of women I was intrigued. The organization did a great job of taking a popular trend at the time and turning it into an educational campaign against abuse. Tables turned as the color of the dress was no longer an issue, but the visible black and blues on the models’ bodies became the center of attention. Here is one of their ads:


The Salvation Army is not the first organization to use social media to fuel a cause. In the past few years there have been other viral hashtags surrounding the issue of violence and sexual abuse, like #WhyIStayed. #WhyIStayed was a hashtag created as a response to the Ray Rice scandal, when a video surfaced of him hitting his then fiancé. The hashtag gained a lot more attention when DiGiorno made one of the most epic Twitter fails in recent history. They posted:

Hieu Trong DiGiorno

This was a fail because the hashtag was about relationship abuse and why individuals decided to stay with their partners. Later DiGiorno apologized with:


The activism surrounding relationship violence and sexual abuse does not end with hashtags and twitter controversies; film and print advertising have also fueled it. One of my favorite campaigns from NOMORE.org is their celebrity PSA’s. NOMORE.org managed to get many influential celebrities to read their message out loud to the public. The result being these PSA’s:

These PSA’s made a splash on both television and social media, with the voices of popular celebrities fueling a message against sexual assault and domestic abuse.

As a survivor of sexual assault I am ecstatic that marketers and advertisers have taken on the cause of opening the publics eyes and minds to such issues. While I still struggle to talk about my own experience, visuals such as these have made me feel more empowered than ever before. Such visuals can cause flashbacks or anxiety to survivors, but I think they are also very powerful.

These marketing and advertising campaigns open up a very important conversation. A conversation to help end domestic violence and sexual assault, not only on women, but all genders. Already sexual assault and domestic abuse are being talked about more than they have in the past, which is a step in the right direction.

Marketing Clean Water

Walking down the dirt path, hot, tired, and carrying an empty diesel jug you struggle. Finally you arrive at the water source a pool of water surrounded by animals and people alike looking to rehydrate and cool down. You wait in line to fill up your jug with the brownish green water so that you can take it home to your family. This is your drinking water, your life water. If it makes you sick or your family members sick, then that’s one less able body(s) to supplement your income. Yet you take the gamble and you carry this heavy jug back to the family home to be consumed.

Can you relate to this? Probably not, but this is how almost 700 million people live each day (JMP Report on Drinking Water 2011). This means that 1 in 8 people lack access to clean drinking water worldwide. Without clean drinking water there is an extreme susceptibility to disease, dehydration, and possibly even death. A lack of clean water also has economic impacts. These impacts are not limited to water born illness, but also to the amount of time spent getting to water sources.

Last semester in my brand and account management class I was introduced to John and Jagger Koerner with the 52 Kids Foundation (http://52kids.org) based out of Charlotte, Vermont. The focus of their organization is to fund the education of kids in Kamuli, Uganda. For our class however, they wanted to brand and implement a fundraising campaign to raise money and awareness for clean water. Why water? The students who they have been aiding in receiving an education need cleaner water and better access to water. If they get sick or go to fetch water then that is valuable time spent away from their education. So John wants to get Kamuli better access to clean drinking water, but he also hopes to one day be able to help other places too.

At first this was just another class assignment to be carried out for a grade, but for me it turned into much more, a passion. Currently I am working with several Champlain and Middlebury College students to fundraise upwards of $7,500 for a well in Kamuli, Uganda through the 52 Kids Foundation. Additionally we would like to raise funds to clean up local water sources, like Lake Champlain. This initiative has turned into what is now known as Waiting on Water. Combined students, faculty, and the surrounding community will be invited to, and hopefully participate in this movement. The idea behind the movement being that humankind cannot simply wait for clean water to happen, and that no one should have to wait for clean water because it is a basic human need.

It is my dream that we will reach our fundraising goals, build this well, build many more wells, and inspire younger generations to care about cleaner water. A common nature lover’s saying is, “Leave it better than you found it.” I would like us to leave this world better than we found it, and especially the resource that makes up most of our bodies and the earth’s surface. Water.

Waiting on Water? Don’t wait, donate.

Even if your donation is simply caring more today than you did yesterday, then you are taking a step in the right direction. So stay tuned for events, details, updates, and ways to donate your time or money.

At a 52 Kids fundraiser. From left to right: John Koerner, Lindsay Kingston, Jahala Dudley, Steven Charnley, myself, and Margo Bartsch.

At a 52 Kids fundraiser. From left to right: John Koerner, Lindsay Kingston, Jahala Dudley, Steven Charnley, myself, and Margo Bartsch.

Live Simply, So Others Can Simply Live

I recently finished reading Cheryl Strayed’s account of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) titled Wild, which has also been recently featured as a film. Cheryl who loses her mother, divorces her husband, and struggles with heroin addiction turns to the wilds of the Pacific West for healing. She ends up making friends, facing challenges, and ultimately coming out of the wild as a changed woman. While I am no Cheryl Strayed and I have never hiked the PCT, I have had my share of through hiking experience on the Appalachian Trail (AT).

It all started in late elementary school when my parents would send me to Quaker Camp in the summer. At first it was two day hikes and later those two day hikes led to three week long adventures in the wilds of West Virginia, Virginia, and Maryland. A common Quaker motto being live simply, these trips embodied simply that.

When I was younger I focused on the fear of being almost alone in the woods and the physical pains of being on the trail for long hours in high humidity. There were instances when this was fully acceptable, like when I stepped on a hornet’s nest and was stung more than nine times. Or even when I got Tabasco sauce on my sleeping bag and then very unfortunately in my eye. But as I hiked more and more I overcame my fears and discomfort.

View from behind of the average trail day.

View from behind of the average trail day.

By the time I was in high school I was spending at least three weeks every summer hiking the Appalachian Trail or canoe/rafting near it. I saw and experienced places those summers that are only accessible by walking or flying. There was the 360-degree view of Spy Rock, the never-ending field of boulders at the Devil’s Marble Yard, the overlook of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers above Harper’s Ferry, the occasional waterfall, and the endless wonders that the AT has to offer to hikers.

Not only was I being physically challenged while reaching these destinations, I was also mentally challenged. There is a certain mental toughness that creates itself when your basic survival instincts kick in. Whether it is avoiding a rattlesnake on the trail, making it to the next water station, baring a heavy pack, or hiking up a large mountain one learns quickly how to cope. Not only to survive, but to enjoy the endless incentives that the trail has to offer. Hiking becomes less about physically getting somewhere and more about getting somewhere mentally.

“It only had to do with how it felt to be in the wild. With what it was like to walk for miles for no reason other than to witness the accumulation of trees and meadows, mountains and deserts, streams and rocks, rivers and grasses, sunrises and sunsets. The experience was powerful and fundamental. It seemed to me that it had always felt like this to be human in the wild, and as long as the wild existed is would always feel this way.” – Cheryl Strayed Wild

Taking a break from hiking to have a chat.

Taking a break from hiking to have a chat.

As I hiked and the summers went on I learned how to live in the wild along with my friends. Our toilets were six inch holes dug in the ground by our trowels at least two far sees from water. Without soap we bathed in streams in lakes. We were all so smelly deodorant lost all effectiveness. Laundry happened once in the whole three weeks. Drinking water came from the occasional trail well or iodized stream water. Our meals consisted of a lot of beans, pow-cow (powdered milk), oatmeal, peanut butter, and the through hikers treat, G.O.R.P. (good old raisins and peanuts). And at the end of these long days we would pile underneath a tarp strung up among the trees or simply lay out underneath the stars.

“I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” –John Muir

Handmade recycled rafts on the New river.

Handmade recycled rafts on the New river.

When spending long amounts in the woods like we did, the woods became a home for our trail family. Whether it was singing, telling stories, playing games, or our inside jokes it is difficult to explain to others the bond between us. It probably had to do with the lack of walls, but even in something as vast as nature we were hardly ever alone.

There were the odd times I found myself hiking alone on the trail with others far behind or ahead of me. Those were the most powerful times. There is nothing as raw or real as experiencing the middle of nowhere as a small fish in the proverbial pond. At times like that I began to imagine what the America’s were like before the European invasion or even before the immigration of indigenous Americans. Did they experience the same smells, see the same plants, happen upon the same wildlife, and witness the sites that I saw those summers? How many people had stepped in the same place that I was stepping at the time?

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” – Henry David Thoreau

After 3 weeks in the woods dirtier and happier than ever.

After 3 weeks in the woods dirtier and happier than ever.

The simplicity of life on the trail left me with a strong predilection for a modest lifestyle and an appreciation for nature. I left the AT with the impression that I only needed the gear in my pack and basic needs, like food and water, to live a fulfilled life. As I progress into my professional career after college I do not want to forget the fundamental lessons that I learned from the AT. To be happy I don’t need much, but a natural existence on this earth full of adventure and wonder. So as I possibly move into a 9-5-office job, I want to make a promise to myself to make time for nature. But most importantly I want to acknowledge that we could all live with a little less, so that others could have a little more.

Wonderful Wandering

Where are you from? Most have a relatively simple answer to that question, but myself and other children who are products of parents who have an unquenchable wanderlust have trouble answering it. I personally have trouble distinguishing if they mean where I was born, where I grew up, or where I currently reside because I have very different answers for each.

IMG_5132Family portrait taken in Guatemala, I am the little one.

Having been born in Guatemala, I guess I am technically Guatemalan. However, I do not carry a Guatemalan passport, memories of Guatemala, or any genetic connection to other Guatemalans. I was simply born in Guatemala where my parents were working at the time. That being said it is also a very beautiful country with a wealth of history and culture, which I would like to revisit someday.

Before I was even two years old my parents moved us to Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia where we lived until I was almost ten years old. This is where I had my earliest childhood memories. My first words were even in Spanish that I had picked up from my nanny and maid. This is where I attended a Bolivian pre-school and later the Santa Cruz Christian Learning Center. I remember running barefoot around my neighborhood with the neighborhood kids, climbing fruit trees and staying there for hours while eating fresh tropical fruit straight from the source. I also remember the crazy trips my parents would take us on in and around Bolivia, the amazing food, and the friends along the way. I ultimately have extremely fond memories of my unique upbringing in a very beautiful place. This is where I would choose to say I was from because it is so much a part of who I am.

Iguazu FamExploring Iguazu Falls in both Argentina and Brazil.

Then I could also say I am American. Sure I was not born here, but this is where my citizenship lies and where much of my education took place.

My parents moved us back to the United States in the summer or 2001. They both took up jobs in Washington D.C. and we moved to the Maryland suburbs. If you recall the fall of 2001 was not a good time for the D.C. area or the United States as a whole. First there was September 11th then there was the D.C. sniper. These events made the United States feel a lot less safe to us than living in South America. At the same time the United States rallied together and there was a strong sense of patriotism.

My time in the D.C. suburbs was tough and made me regret the fact that I had a different upbringing. It was difficult to fit in with other Latinos and even more difficult to fit in with Americans. My peers thought I was weird, and I was. Even school had me confused. I had to take extra English classes and I had to learn American customs that I had never been exposed to. The pledge of allegiance for instance was something that I had never experienced. For the first few weeks of school I pretended to know what I was doing and saying. It was at this time that I became very American and started to shy away from my Latina identity.

photo 1On top of my dad’s shoulders overlooking Machu Picchu.

Hiding my Latina identity was something that I did for years until I entered college. I even took five years of French. Then at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County I met a lot of foreign students and realized that it was cool to be foreign. Students that knew other languages and had a wealth of foreign experience were looked at very favorably. I started taking Spanish classes, and Spanish came back to me very quickly. At the same time my parents were moving to Vermont. So naturally when two years into my studies I decided I wanted to take some time off to figure out what I really wanted to do, academically, I moved home to Vermont.

Now I attend Champlain College as a marketing and integrated advertising student and I am from Williston, Vermont. However, I am also from Guatemala, Bolivia, and Maryland. I am American, Guatemalan, and Bolivian. I am a Spanish speaker and an English speaker. I am uniquely Julia Nittler, the product of a wonderful wandering lifestyle, and as I advance into my professional career I hope I will have the opportunity to see even more of this beautiful world.

ArgentinaWalking along the beach of a glacial lake in Southern Argentina.