This research focuses on the portrayal of female gender in television advertising in Nigeria with respect to NTA Ilorin. The study tends to stop the indecent portrayal of women in television advertisement is what promoted this research. The research examines some advertisements in NTA Ilorin so as to carefully deduce the true portrayal of women in television advertisements. Ten advertisements were studied using content analysis method and survey method was used to find out the perception of Ilorin west local government Area of Kwara state. The study used social construction of reality theory and social learning theory. It was discovered that women are portrayed in television advertisement as domestic wokers and weak being.


Title Page i

Certification ii

Dedication iii

Acknowledgement iv

Table of Contents v

List of Tables vi

Abstract vii


1.1 Background of the Study 1

1.2 Statement of the problem 5

1.3 Objectives of the Study 6

1.4 Research Questions 6

1.5 Significance of the Study 7

1.6 Scope of the Study 8

1.7 Definition of Terms 8


2.1 Theoretical Framework 10

2.1.1 Social Construction of Reality 10

2.1.2 Social Learning Theory13

2.2 Conceptual Review    16

2.2.1 Advertising 16 2.2.2 Television Advertising. 22

2.2.3 History of Television Advertising. 23

2.2.4 Portrayal of Female Gender in Advertising. 25

2.2.5 Evaluation 29

2.2.6 APCON and Advertisement regulation in Nigeria  30

2.2.7 Advertising Media 31

2.2.8   Brief History of NTA 34

2.3 Empirical Review 34


3.1 Research Method 38

3.2 Population of the Study 38

3.3 Sample size and Sampling Technique 39

3.4 Research Instrument 40

3.5 Validity of the Research Instrument 40

3.6 Reliability of the Research Instrument 41

3.7 Method of administration of the instrument 42

3.8 Method of data analysis 42


4.1 Field Performance of Research Questions 43

4.2 Analysis of Data on Research Questions 43

4.3 Discussion of Finding 52


5.1 Limitation 55

5.2 Summary 55

5.3 Conclusion 56

5.3 Recommendation 57

5.3.1 Recommendations to various Stakeholders 57

5.4.2 Recommendation to Future Research 58

References 59

List of Tables

Table 1, 2 and 3 answers research question one. 43

Table 3 Women are stereotyped in television advert 44

Table 4 answers the research question two 44

Table 5 answers the third research question 45

Table 6. 7 and 8 answers the fourth research question 50


1.0 Introduction

1.1 Background of the study

Advertisements are generally characterized by their persuasive nature. Television advertising is characterized by the ability of the medium to transmit content to a mass audience simultaneously (Barker and Angelo 2006:12). These characteristics of television advertising have been the subject of concern, criticism, and continuous study (Jones 1999: 165). Bignell (2004:210) explains that it is the perception that television has connections to the real world of culture and society in which it exists that makes it critical in research. Bignell (2004) also states that television is fascinating to study because it seeks to provide the audience with elements, issues and events that they are currently experiencing. 

Bolland (2005:11) defines advertising as the “paid placement of organizational messages”. Cook (1992:5) states that, “advertising can tell us a great deal about our own society and our own psychology”. Cook (1992) like many other researchers in this field (Branston and Stafford 1999, Kim and Lowry 2005) acknowledge that advertisements can serve as a gauge of social norms, values, as well as the interests of society.

Bovee and Arens (1992) define advertising as ‘a non-personal communication of information usually paid for and usually persuasive in nature, about products, service or ideas by an identified sponsor’.

Research has shown that television advertising often uses stereotypes gender specific roles of men and women thereby reinforcing existing clichés, (Kim and Lowry 2005). Olabisi (2002) asserts that in the world of television advertisements, women are more negatively stereotyped thus undermining the struggle for gender equality. She added that men and women are aware of the cultural prevalence of traditional gender stereotypes (mostly in women) and television contributes to this awareness. Bardwick and Schumann (1976) analyzed the portrayal of women in television commercials and concluded that to an amazing extent women are preoccupied with dirt, and the television woman in commercials is shown as housebound. (p. 18).

This shows that people watching televisions are bombarded with images and slogans through advertisements. In a 2000 Nielsen Media Research and Radio Advertising Bureau survey it was found that on average, U.S. households watch more than seven hours of television per day (Albarran, 2000).

People memorize slogans and absorb images without questioning them. More importantly people do it without thinking. This is what Gerbner, Gross, Morgan and Signorieli (1980) called the cultivation effect. The effect of all this exposure to the same messages produces what has been called cultivation, or teaching of a common worldview, common roles and common values. (Gerbner, Gross, Morgan & Signorieli, 1980, p.10).

According to Gerbner, one of the most common findings from media and cultivation studies is that increased television viewing is associated with more stereotypical views, especially of gender (Allan & Scott, 2006). Gerbner, Gross, Morgan and Signorieli (1980) argued that for heavy viewers, television virtually monopolizes and subsumes other sources of information, ideas and consciousness. Furthermore, the heavy viewers perceive the world as what is shown on television (Gerbner, et al., 1980). 

Based on Gerbner’s findings, it can be argued that if on average an American household watches over seven hours of television a day, this can lead to heavy indoctrination of television stereotypes. People are likely to perceive the world as what is depicted through television.

Hence, the cultivation theory suggests that persuasion and learning can occur without comprehension or deliberation. If people admit to themselves the power of advertising, it becomes reasonable to argue that the stereotype, which works so well for the advertisers, could be harming its audience. For just as this stereotype has the power to convince people that the advertiser’s message about the product has value, it also has the power to convince them that the stereotype itself has value and that it is real and somehow right. In fact, previous research has suggested advertising which stereotypes women can form unconscious and unthinking attitudes about women and their abilities in society (Geis, Brown, Jennings & Porter, 1984).

On the other hand, researchers have also found that stereotypes can have a negative effect on women themselves. Women may perceive the stereotype as a cultural directive which in turn may lead them to put aside their own desires regarding career and personal life and replace them with the ‘ideal’ presented through popular culture including advertisements (Kim and Lowry 2005). 

Feminists and others concerned about the image of women in popular culture have long placed much of the blame on advertising (Dominick & Rauch, 1972). Feminist Germaine Greer berated the media for concentrating on advertisements for things to squirt on women to stop them from being so offensive. (Dominick & Rauch, 1972, p. 259). Marijean Suelzle pointed out that commercials endlessly show women helpless before a pile of soiled laundry until the male voice of authority overrides hers to tell how brand X with its fast acting enzymes will get her clothes cleaner than clean. (Courtney & Whipple, 1974, p.252). However, even if advertising could portray women as self-confident and career oriented, it would still be difficult to change the minds of all those who believe in the stereotype. 

Advertising is a powerful tool for selling, but it can also be a powerful tool for attitude change and behavior. Hence, the danger of advertising which stereotypes women is that it can lead to forming notions that undermine women and their abilities. It is against this background that the study seeks to find out the portrayal of women selected adverts on NTA Ilorin.

1.2 Statement of the problem

Media representations of minority groups particularly representations of women has been a popular and contested area of research and an important issue in public debate, (Viashali 2003). These issues in Nigeria continue to feature prominently in state policy and initiatives that emphasize the point that many of the issues that have faced women in the past require constant revisiting to understand the current state of women in the society. Part of the reason for this is because findings like Janus 1997, Strinati 2003, and Hassim 2006 consistently over the years have found similar if not the same themes and patterns in advertising content; that female characters are represented stereotypically. This is the overall finding of studies that have also looked at how female characters are portrayed in advertisements. There is a consistency in the findings of the studies that confirm that female characters are not realistically portrayed in the media at various times and across different mediums. This is why it is important to replicate this research trend in Ilorin, Kwara state by evaluating the state of women as depicted and portrayed in the media using NTA Ilorin. This study therefore seeks to find out the portrayal of female in selected adverts on NTA Ilorin in order to find out if similar results will be gotten.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

1. To determine the extent to which women are portrayed in Television Advertisements in Nigeria with respect to NTA Ilorin. 

2. To find out how women are portrayed in Television advertisement in Nigeria with respect to NTA Ilorin.

3. To find out the patterns and themes portrayed in television advertisements in Nigeria with respect to NTA Ilorin.

4. To find out the perception of Nigerians on portrayal of women in television advertisement in Nigeria with respect to NTA Ilorin.

1.4 Research Questions

1. To what extent are women portrayed in television advertisement in Nigeria with respect to NTA Ilorin?

2. How are women portrayed in television advertisement in Nigeria with respect to NTA Ilorin?

3. What patterns and themes are portrayed in television advertisements in Nigeria with respect to NTA Ilorin?

4. How do Nigerians perceive the portrayal of women in television advertisement in Nigeria with respect to NTA Ilorin?

1.5 Significance of the Study

           The result of the study will be of immense benefit to the advertising agencies that use such tactics as indecent portrayal of women to realize the extent to it can spell doom for any product, and how they can be cautious and take proper measures in advertising messages. 

Also, this research will also be of benefit to the Advertising Practitioner’s Council of Nigeria (APCON) which is the apex regulating body of advertising in Nigeria on how to censor adverts portraying womanhood as objects; informs the body the status of gender portrayals in Nigerian television advertisements and also help to increase the dim images of women in Nigeria television advertisement in order to take actions where necessary.

The study will also be of benefits to Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and women activists who are tirelessly on the move to ensure the emancipation of womanhood as the study will give a sense of direction on how to tackle the problem faced by women. 

Similarly, the study will be of benefits to Association of Advertising practitioners of Nigeria (AAPN) on the current tactics used by advertising agencies in selling their products through the appeal of portraying women in a negative light. By so doing, they can be able to censor the adverts before being aired. 

Also to the Broadcasting association of Nigeria, the study will bring their attention to how women are sexually symbolized or decorative role in print and broadcast media. The study will also be of benefits to media practitioners to proffer professional solutions to the advertising agencies on the portrayal of women in mass media advertisements.

This study is also of benefits to future researchers who are interested in conducting research on related topic as it will serve as reference material.

1.6 Scope of the Study

The scope of the study is limited to women portrayal in television commercials and not any other content. The study is also limited to NTA Ilorin and not any other television stations in Nigeria. 

1.7 Definition of Terms 

Portrayal: This is used in the study to mean presentation of women in advertising, either as mother, children and so on.

Advert: As used in the context of the study is a form of communication design to promote the sale of product service or a message on behalf of the institute, organization or candidate.

Advertisers: This means, in this study a person or company that advertises or make awareness of a product.

Evaluation: In the context of this study evaluation is the appraisal of something to determine its worth or fitness.

Female: This is use here to mean someone of feminine sex or gender that attracts attention. Gender: This refers in this study to mean the biological sex of an individual either male or female.

Female gender: This herein means someone who is showing the characteristic traditionally associated with been female.

APCON: In the context of this study APCON is an Acronym for Advertising Practitioner’s Council of Nigeria.

NTA: as used here is the Nigerian Television Authority




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