Coca-Cola gender, work, and family as seen in Iconic american Advertising

Outside Context (validate me)

Intel, US Ad. "U.S. Advertising – The Evolution of Mothers in American Advertising." Ebiquity Opinion. N.p., 08 May 2015. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.

Scholarly and Impressive Opinion:

"In the late 1930s, "women were more likely to be portrayed in fiction as autonomous heroines seeking to fulfill their own personal goals, but as the forties progressed, the autonomous heroine gave way to the glorified housewife, praised and rewarded for her efforts to run the household and nurture others."
"Four general stereotypes of women existed across advertisements in eight major general-interest magazines in the years 1958, 1968, and 1978:

1) A woman's place is in the home.

2) Women do not make important decisions or do important things.

3) Women are dependent and need men's protection.

4) Men regard women primarily as sex objects"

Shields, Vickie Ruthledge. "Selling the Sex That Sells: Mapping the Evolution of Gender Advertising Research Across Three Decades." Annals of International Communication Association 20.1 (1997): 71-109. Taylor & Francis Online. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.

Coca-Cola Advertising from 1920's-Now

Pre 1950's

Family Structure: middle-aged mother (on the younger side), middle aged father father, one child (typically a boy)

Gender Roles & Work: Mom was at home, dad was at work

Racial Represenation: All white

WW2 Era

Family Structure: mostly focused on the war effort, so not many family units depicted. However, if more than one subject is depicted, it is most likely the courtship between a male soldier and a young girl.

Gender Roles & Work: Both men and women worked, women worked in either small jobs or the army, but all men were in the army. Women depicted as working were single (ie, not depicted with a husband or family, most of the time depicted by herself). Women not depicted in the labor force were love interests or the "comfort of home" to come back to for the soldiers.

Racial Representation: All white.

1950's & 1960's

Family Structure: 2 heterosexual parents, 1-4 children. Those depicted in the labor force are not depicted with a family (maybe a spouse, but definitely no kids).

Gender Roles & Work: Women and men worked, but women had the stereotypical female occupation. Men depicted in the labor force either work hands-on labor or office job.

Racial Representation: African American and White, but all family units are monochromatic.

Mary Alexander, first non-athlete Black woman featured in Coca-Cola ad (1955)
Everyone (white anyways) could go to school and get a degree
She came home from work, but it's a surprise, so she was expecting to make dinner as well.


Family Structure: Larger family unit (multi-generation) or depicted as just a couple.

Gender Roles & Work: In the family, both parents were involved with the kids. Little is revealed about occupation.

Racial Representation: African American, White. Monochromatic. Family in commercial potentially racially ambiguous? I can't quite tell.

1980's, 1990's

Family Structure: a much looser definition of family, mostly depicted are friend pairs or lovers. Moving away from the nuclear definition of a family.

Gender Roles & Work: When occupation is portrayed, both men and women participate in arts (music and the sculpting), office labor and hands-on labor is done by men. Celebrity endorsements became HUGE.

Racial Representation: White and African American (mostly white, though).

Celebrity Endorsements


Family Structure: Variety of family structures portrayed. Not a lot of ads with families anymore, mostly groups of friends (arguably a family structure)

Gender Roles & Work: Not as much labor depicted anymore. Both parents involved with the family raising.

Racial Representation: diverse representation, over the years the diversity within the actual family groups increased as well.

Final Thoughts

Over time, the structure of the family has changed, the gender roles have evolved, and the relationship between men and women in the relationships have changed. Overtime, women and men have been portrayed with more intimacy and, in some cases, more of a partnership. Williams states that things have been changing over the years and that the family and home structure that we see today is completely different from what it used to be and what the workplace is based on. I think the general progression away from the classic family structure alone is very telling of our cultural attitude towards the family structure. There is not a lot of class representation in the advertisements (other than like, celebrities), which is a critical part of the debate, but overall I think the evolution of Coca-Cola Advertisements captures the evolution of the family-work debate in America.

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