Kat Rezai’s PhD research at Edinburgh Napier University explores the relationship between Instagram branded content and women’s identity constructions. Here she tells PGRNS about her recent success at the Academy of Marketing conference, and an invitation to the House of Commons.
I recently presented a working paper ‘Giving Women a Voice: using netnography to analyse consumer reactions towards Instagram branded content’ at the 2017 Academy of Marketing conference. This paper, co-authored with my Director of Studies Dr Elaine Thomson and colleague Dr Ashleigh Logan McFarlane focused on a method I created in my thesis. In this method, I use Instagram messenger as a base for participants (female, age 18-24) to screenshot branded content and give me their thoughts, opinions and feelings towards them. I received excellent feedback and we look forward to developing this paper into a published one.
Following this conference, I received news about the launch of the Advertising Standards Authority‘s (ASA) gender stereotypes in advertising report. The ASA is the UK’s independent advertising regulator. It makes sure ads across UK media stick to their Advertising Codes. Last year I was recruited as an expert panellist in the ASA’s year-long project towards unpacking potential harms and risks of gender stereotypes in advertisements. They launched this report on the 18th of July at the House of Commons and I was delighted to accept an invitation for this fantastic event.
This report is timely at this stage of my research experience, as gender stereotypes in advertisements is a major theme. In my own research it is important to gauge the female consumer’s opinions: are they happy with the ads that appear on their Instagram feed? How do they feel about them? Do these ads impact upon them? Much more research needs to be fulfilled in this area. The activist and cultural theorist Jean Kilbourne gave a Ted X talk in 2014 in which she summarised that after 40 years of exploring female gender stereotypes in ads she has seen it become much worse, particularly with regards to sexualisation and objectification.
It was an honour to witness the official launch of Advertising Standards Authority’s gender stereotypes in advertising report. An excellent read with progressive action points towards regulation. Where will my research go from here following the report? I will keep researching this phenomena – I will not only ask what consumers think about the ads, but more importantly explore how they want to be perceived in ads. I’m also keen to explore gender fluidity and backing LGBTQI rights in ads and media in the future. Ambitious? Of course – if Jean Kilbourne has witnessed a decline in the last 40 years then we definitely have a long way to go. Determined? Hell, yeah!