Critique of Kia Ad

Lorber writes that gender is both a social construction and a performance, and in this ad we literally see two gendered worlds being constructed, with the characters performing their parts, acting as masculine or as feminine as possible.

The wife’s world lacks complex animation, and is incomplete without a man.  She begins performing gender even while asleep, gently smiling, with perfect hair, makeup, and modest pink pajamas.  She continues it while dreaming, appearing happy, attractive, and passive.

The husband’s dream is longer, more complex, and full of “macho” activities.  The man’s performance involves looking pleased with his situation and also taking the woman off the horse at the end (without asking her, naturally).  The car, in a rather obviously metaphorical way, penetrates the boundary between his dream and the woman’s.

The commercial promises men speed, power, and sex.  The commercial would fail if the sandman had sprinkled too much sand on the woman,  for then she would be too assertive of her gender and sexuality. In the end the pair rides off in the Kia with the man driving; thus, viewers are promised happy lives with Kias if they allow a gendered society to be constructed around them and passively fill their roles.


Lorber, The Social Construction of Gender

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3 Responses to Critique of Kia Ad

  1. jmickey317 says:

    Oh, your critique of this was very interesting! It’s funny, before reading lorber, i would never have seen all of these gender performances in such a simple commercial. I’m not sure how much I agree about the sand part. I feel like you might be reaching a bit in drawing that conclusion, however I do completely agree that the commercial promises men a certain power, control, and autonomy that it does not even suggest offering to women. I enjoyed this critique. Good Job!

    • jmickey317 says:

      I meant to mention that the portrayal of women as passive was very obvious and yet subtle at the same time, with her not being the one driving the car or directing the horse, or her looking very soft and silent and still in sleep. It was perceptive of you to catch that. Something else I noticed was how it was okay for HIS dream to be very sexualized (a nearly naked woman with a flag, and women in bikinis cheering him on in the stands) but how the woman’s dream was just “romanticized”, as if women are not also sexual beings that have sexual fantasies and urges. The gendered stereotypes about women’s needs and wants are laughable.

      • rachelrabbit16 says:

        Thanks, that’s a really good point about only the man’s dream being sexualized. That’s kind of what I was referring to when I said that the ad wouldn’t work if the woman had too much sand on her. Imagine that man on the horse being really sexual and her assertively enjoying herself– it would seem really unusual and out of place I think!

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