The cultural structure of cars has always been perceived as masculine technology, passing from father to son since their early childhood (Walker, 1998, p. 23). Walker (1998) stated that this cultural tradition is believed to be a form of family transmission of gender attributes and perception of objects and ideas from generations to generations. Indeed, car’s representations in magazines translates in a “gendered economy of pleasure” which possesses meaningful relationships between humans and cars (Landström, 2006). The purpose of this essay is to analyse the target market and the product of the chosen motoring magazine, the cultural myths and ideology of patriarchal lineage as well as ideal masculinity. Using the advertisement of ‘Castrol Edge’ as an illustration, the campaign in the motoring magazine commercial carries the theme of “Strength for maximum performance” (Hodgson, 2014, p. 110).
Figure 1: Advertisement of Castrol EDGE 25W-50
The importance of a successful advertisement and marketing is to identify the right target market based on demographic and psychographic segmentations. The values for this type of product focuses on consumers who are believers and experiencers. Believers are conservative consumers which their faith depends on traditional, family and community and are motivated by ideals. Nevertheless, experiencers are young and active sporty consumers who have a purposeful lifestyle, and value their uniqueness, familiarity and self-expression (Sathish & Rajamohan, 2012, p. 161 & 162). It is clearly visible through the cover page and genre of the magazine that the advertisement is targeted to people interested in motorsport, especially men. According to a study of Virginia Scharff (1991), cars have been attributed to men since its creation and it is claimed to be a “territory for men”. Motoring magazines reveal relevant masculine cultural signification regarding consumption of imagery, products, desires and passions of automobile (Jonathan, Schroeder, & Detlew, 2004, p. 22). What is more, motoring magazines enable consumers to contemplate their pleasure of cars admiration, by creating “imaginary spaces for subject assemblages, predicated on pleasure, into which the readers can project themselves” (Landström, 2006, p. 26). Despite the automobile’s attributes to men, in the modern world where feminism is on the rise, motoring magazines can also attract some women consumers that are particularly interested in cars. However, the relationships with cars are not open to everybody, but “policed by a gendered economy of pleasure” (Landström, 2006, p. 26). Therefore, the advertisement of Castrol Edge oil in the magazine is presumed to be targeted to the person interested in auto racing.
Figure 2: Castrol EDGE 25W-50
Figure 4: Close up of Advertisement (refer to figure 2)
Figure 3: Close up packaging of Castrol Advertisement EDGE product (refer to figure 1)
In general, high performance oil product are made for motor sports. EDGE 25W-50 is an engine oil product used for modified engines, allocated to automobiles designed for spirited performance and nimble handling (Castrol Limited, 2018). The distribution channels of the product are mainly petrol stations, wholesale distributors and supermarkets, to list a few (Kumar, 2013). In fact, the signifier of this product is represented by “the strength for maximum performance” (Hodgson, 2014, p. 110). With the advancement of technology in the modern world, car manufacturers have been able to produce smaller, powerful and efficient engines, by aiming at saving the energy consumed by sport cars, reducing emissions and providing outstanding performance. Consequently, the modern design of engines requires more engine oil. Under those circumstances, today’s oil technology allows oil engine to last longer. That is why engine oil needs to be sustainable and powerful in order to maintain the speediness of sport car racing (Castrol Limited, 2018). As shown in the advertisement in Figure 1 and the product in Figure 2, it is pointed out that both figures are related, revealing the iconic signs of the design aspect. Obviously, the orange fluid graphic in both packaging and advertisement (shown in Figures 3 and 4) also displays the advanced technology of strong engine oil. Moreover, the illustration is explained through the slogan of Castrol Edge as “titanium strong”, prevailing upon consumers the exceptionality of the product (Castrol, 2016).
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The phrases in the advertisement in Figure 2. conveyed the cultural myths of patriarchal lineage. It is believed that patriarchal lineage is a family tie transmitted from a father to son and is considered as cultural myths of the male line circulated from generations to generations (Pembrey, Bygren, & Kaati, 2006, p. 165). Additionally, automobile technology has always been dominated by men and originated since their early childhood: fathers generally teach car culture to their sons and it is reinforced by mass media (Walker, 1998, p.160; Walker, 2000, p.160). Many young men explained their attachment to automobile by the fact that they received their first vehicle as a gift since their childhood by their father, namely a bicycle, that consequently became a drive for their passion for cars (Walker L. , 1998, p. 160). Moreover, Linley (2000, p.159) found that three of 40 young men interrogated have a father who has or has had a career in motor vehicle related industries, explaining the relationship of the patriarchal lineage and car culture. Therefore, this masculine culture has long been continually diffused through the male line.
The cultural myth behind the image of an ideal masculine figure is represented by “powerful, hyper-muscular, and tough male models” (Katz, Jackson, 1995, p. 133). Katz (1995) described that, in advertising, the ideal image of men models is usually associated with products to enhance their appeal to send the right message to the customers, making them feel and appear to others as stronger, tougher and more powerful as the ideal masculine figure. Men’s ideal perception pressured the society to conformed to the idealistic image of male, which influencing men consumers to buy the advertised products in order to live up to the expectations (Kervin, 2016). Thus, masculinity is culturally defined, simplified and characterised by dominant traits traditionally attributed to men such as “dominance, independence, self-confidence, assertiveness, strength and ambition” (Kimmel and Tissier-Desbordes, 1999, p.3; Kervin, 2016, p.68). In Figure 2., it is remarkable that the man model standing behind the car reveal the dominance over others, which is shown by his posture attributed to strength and a willingness for a challenge (Kervin, 2016, p. 54). The message of such representation is that the use of the product will enable men to become stronger, more challenging and fearful of future difficulties, displaying the ascribed traits of ideal masculinity.
In the 1970s and early 1980s where cars were large beastly powerful machines, motor cars were a significant icon in the automotive industry (Cool Rides Online, 2016). Some children are lucky enough to inherit these 1980s looking cars from their parents (Walker L. , 1998, p. 23). However, under the hood is a modern-day powerful engine setup that can wow the audience with performance that can out do many modern sports cars. For instance, Troy Swift (2014) quotes “What was once my dad’s VK is now a highly tune street car”. This particular car has its own culture as there are many different types such as JDM, European and rally cars. The commodore VK is a part of a niche Australian muscle classic car. Even in the name “muscle” shows great strength and power within the vehicle (Mckinney, 2009). Furthermore, the raw sound of the car makes a name for itself as a sign for masculinity and dominance.
Car culture has influenced young men to spend a large amount of time and money on making their vehicle more striking and distinguished among others, which has always been the main purpose of car culture (Walker L. , 2000, p. 162). As a matter of fact, Walker (2000) believed that the creation of cars is viewed as an art object based on its colours, its stereo system delivering loud music to attract others’ attention and its sound of engine. For example, Troy Swift’s quote “Don’t let the colour fool you, it stands up to the competition on race day” refers to the relationship between cars and maculation (see Figure 1.). Another similar advertisement example of Figure 5, that involved the patriarchal lineage transmitted from father to son, is present on the Patek Philippe watch advertisement (Forbes, 2017). As cited in the advertisement “you merely look after it for the next generation”, the message conveyed is that the product they are selling is something precious that people can keep for the next generations and is considered as valuable by time and meaningful as a gift for future generation (Forbes, 2017).
Figure 5: Advertisement of Patek Philippe
The oil crisis in 1970s has frightfully affected oil prices to dramatically increase and decrease in oil supply (Barsky & Kilian, 2004). Due to the sharp fall in oil supply, leading car companies in the US, Europe and Japan had to adapt to the crisis that gave an unpleasant impression of cars by designing new shapes of cars, from strong and giant masculine cars to smaller, less powerful, less masculine and more “childlike” and affordable for the general public (Mcintosh, 2017). The change of commodore VH (81-84) to VL (86-88) is one of the relevant examples to illustrate this modification. Indeed, when the VL was produced, Holden had to use a new engine, Nissan engine RB30 that is an inline 6 compared to the larger VH V8 engine, that conformed to the regulations (Lewis, 2013). Figure 6 demonstrates the strong look at the front of the car, presenting a masculine, fast and powerful look, whereas Figure 7 highlight the childish look of the car that can be suitable for women as well as for the family. Both Figures 6 and 7 reflect a comprehensible of masculine car technology. As time passed by, people still have strong belief of classic cars and its attributes, like strength and dedication (Lewis, 2013). The representation of modern car today exemplify the history of cars’ appearance and the way it has been transformed throughout many decades.
Figure 6: Advertisement of VH (81-84)
Figure 7: Advertisement of VL (86-88)
In conclusion, the study of signs within the branding and marketing of Castrol Edge oil on the motoring magazine commercial is clearly aimed at a gendered economy of pleasure, particularly for men. The campaign of “Strength for maximum performance” draws on the cultural patriarchal lineage through the male line that cars inherit from generation to generation and has been originated since their childhood. The image of an ideal man brings strength, toughness and dominance messages as masculinity which represented and related with the concept of the packaging of the product and the advertisement. Hence, conveying the car as masculine technology.
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