Case study 113 renault clio

A researcher was interested to see if there were differences in how males and females interpreted or perceived an advertisement in a magazine for men. The advertisement featured an image of the Renault Clio being driven by a large catlike creature. Two group discussions were held - one with a group of young men and the other with a group of young women. Both group discussion sessions were taped and the researcher made the following notes on playing back the tape:

The females see the Renault Clio as a male's car that seems to be largely as a result of using the metaphor of the cat. They are being guided that cats are men ... big cats and speed. The men seem to be divided on it... they start by interpreting it by using pronouns such as 'I' and 'we' and 'whatever' but then they get guided off this and one of them says that it's a female's car and so they change. They are not sure. The female group has used the word 'round' in describing the car at one point so perhaps this shows they are moving towards a female interpretation. With the women, however, they think it is a male's car on balance . . . 'men are like animals, men are like wild animals', 'yes, it is going fast' ... semantic link to speed. 'Like a lad', 'you see them in films don't you, cruising'. They try to fit everything about the car into the narrative that the car is for males . . . Things like used for cruising, etc. The researcher asks whether they think it is a female car . . . and they say, 'well it's got a pretty background to it.' They construct a narrative that this is a male car ... 'speed'. When they look at potential customer they decide it is a man. Their narrative goes off in this direction . . . they are going to be cool and fast. . . they are going to be a cheetah ... it is about power ... all the links here are masculine .. . and then it is about sex . . . Men say that they are wild in bed and stuff . . . 'like to "grrrrr" and get our paws on it'. They are linking it in a masculine way . . . they are not identifying it with themselves. 'The car is female (for the women group) is it?' asks the researcher ... 'No it's a male car' is the answer from some females in the group ... so there is some confusion. The cheetah is seen as a male. Then they say that the car will attract 'you a female'. It is stylish (i.e. male) because of the way the cheetah is sitting. But the males also pick up on 'stylish' too . . . indicating they think it is a male car . . . 'one hand on the car', 'relaxed, cruising'. Males see a link between 'cruising' and 'getting your paws on it'; 'cool' and 'fast' denote it is a male car.

Males give different interpretations ... i.e. cheetah is humour, 'stupid'. They also identify with the cheetah. See themselves in the role. Cheetah has gender differences. Remember the advertisement was aimed at men in the magazine. Would it have a different effect if shown in a female magazine? Females didn't know it was in a male magazine. The males are more informed than the females. City slicker ... You can go almost anywhere in it. Merging of machinery and grass - semantic links with the countryside through the metaphor of the cheetah. Identify with the cheetah. Using their knowledge to read the picture. 'Hairdresser's car' ... there is diversity of opinion about the car. They do identify themselves with the cheetah . . . they see themselves in that role. Cheetah has gender differences ... The car is seen as a woman by the men ... shows what he thinks a car should look like. When they are constructing the narrative they are drawing on cultural knowledge that they have. Interest and knowledge affect how they construct the narrative ... males and females constructed the narrative differently ... Males provide more detail on the car than the females.


1 Analyse the researcher's notes making use of a cognitive map and data display tables.

2 What differences do you note in terms of male and female interpretations/perceptions of the advertisement?

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