Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Televised Consumption

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Inger L. Stole, “Televised Consumption: Women, Advertisers, and the Early Television Daytime Industry”

Article Blog by Julianna Salman

Stole focuses on the role of advertising as a funding system for television in the early 1950s, and how women were the target audience for most advertisers and broadcasters during early daytime television and the shift from radio adverting to television. She describes this through using the example of NBC’s 1950s program Home, a daytime show broadcasted every weekday between 1954 and 1957. Home is used to explore how advertisers and broadcast networks were integrated to appeal to a new consumer. Early TV programming and scheduling hoped to appeal to housewives and influence their consumption habits through new advertising techniques such as “magazine advertising” and cross promotion.

By offering daytime programming that emphasized the lifestyle of the traditional homemaker, broadcasters hoped that women would regard daytime TV as instrumental in making housekeeping more efficient and as an aid in bringing about a higher standard of living. Advertisers found homemaking shows as a potential way to maximize commercial sales through television.

The following is a short segment from an episode of Home, with Arlene Francis

Home “offered its viewers a staple menu of cooking, beauty, gardening, homemaking, child-rearing, and shopping,” to attract an audience that was able to identify itself with the consumption of up-scale women. It was able to have this sense of exclusivity and prestige, to its target audience, that differentiated it from local daytime programming, and daytime soap operas and game shows. The show was hosted by Arlene Francis, a “self-declared anti-feminist” and “ordinary housewife”, who held traditional opinions about gender roles. These daytime programs had to emphasize women’s roles as housewives and mothers because it was in these capacities that women bought more products. However, the show wasn’t performing as well as the network had hoped. It lost viewer attention and wasn’t entertaining. It was also mostly unsuccessful because advertisers were not in tune with and did not reflect the concerns of their desired audience.

Today, advertisers still try to promote their products, primarily to women. Home was striving to promote domestic perfection through their products because they believed that was the best market to attract more consumers. Even today women are told, through programs and advertising, perfection is the only way to be successful. Networks such as Lifetime operate on behalf of women and successfully promotes itself with a mission to “serve women’s interests”.

The following clip from The Rachel Ray Show is a modern day example of a daytime show targeted for female viewership with product endorsements


What are some other programs you can think of that target a particular audience?

How has advertising in television programming changed from the mid 20th century to today?

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