Posts Tagged ‘advertisement’

#2 – Diet Pepsi ‘Skinny’ Can Controversy

February 13, 2011 14 comments

Stereotyping is defined as a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.

Advertisements usually features stereotypes in it, to allow their target audience to be able to relate with the character. In this case, it is Pepsi’s new Diet Pepsi Skinny Can, released during Fashion Week in New York.


screen shot from:

Why the whole controversy behind this new can design? It is using stereotype and perception to sell the product, in which fashion is related to being skinny and that being skinny is beautiful. So what do you think is the main reason for stereotyping?

Perception is defined as the process of selecting, organizing and interpreting information to give personal meaning to the communication we receive. Ultimately perception is about how make sense of the information we received.

When forming perception, we go through the process of selection – how we single out information in our environment for processing. We select information based on frequency (quantity), contrast (how a certain stimuli stands out because it is different), intensity (the magnitude of a certain stimuli) and novel stimuli (things that are new to us).

Our selection process is also influenced from various sources such as mass media, environment, individual characteristics (e.g. past experiences, cultural background etc), psychological state and social network.

In my opinion, influences of selection and the qualities of selection work hand in hand. Take for example; a girl being constantly exposed to media portrayal of beauty as being skinny mixed with the environment that stresses on outer appearance as beauty. This affects her selection of what beauty is all about. With inaccurate selection of information, it ultimately affects how she organized and interprets the information. Inevitably, it leads to the distortion of perception of beauty.

The mainstream media has the power to affect people’s perception. The media is a tool that can be used to communicate from one person to many. It is up to how a person makes sense of the information. However, with this distortion of perception being used to sell a product, it is delivering the wrong message of what beauty is, not only to the youths who are so easily influenced, but also to the mass.

I think the main problem when it comes to perception, is selection of information. We tend to avoid certain stimuli (selective exposure), filter of unwanted stimuli (selective attention) and/or we only store information we have processed (selective retention). Distortion of perception leads to the existence of stereotyping.

The best way to improve our perception is to keep an open mind when selecting information and distinguish facts from inferences. Most importantly, be prepared to change our perception.

When it all comes down to it, do you really think it is the media’s fault for projecting beauty as being skinny, or do you think it is the natural characteristic in human nature to see what is pleasing to the eyes?