P1: GVG/GGT P2: GVG/GMF QC: GDX
Sex Roles [sers] pp489-sers-373451 May 3, 2002 19:27 Style ﬁle version Nov. 19th, 1999
Sex Roles, Vol. 45, Nos. 11/12, December 2001 (
What If the Energizer Bunny Were Female?
Importance of Gender in Perceptions of
Advertising Spokes-Character Effectiveness
Southwest Texas State University
An experiment was designed to determine whether and in what way gen-
der makes a difference in the ratings of advertising spokes-characters. It was
hypothesized and results conﬁrmed that gender and product type affect the
likability of spokes-characters and perceptions of target audience. A male
spokes-character is perceived as more appropriate for a male-oriented prod-
uct; however, a female spokes-characterand a male product created the impres-
sion that the product was not quite so male oriented. It was also hypothesized
that the spokes-character with the most positive ratings would be the most
memorable. Results did not bear this out.
KEY WORDS: gender; advertising; spokes-characters.
A recent study conﬁrmed that spokes-characters, the cute little anim-
ated creatures in television advertising, are mostly male (Peirce & McBride,
1999). In fact, only 9 of 39 recalled by test participants and 10 of 32 viewed
in videotapes of commercials were anything but male. To advertisers this
ﬁnding might seem trivial. What does it matter if a bunny banging a drum is
male or female? Or perhaps the advertisers believe that only a male bunny
can sell batteries.
To those concerned with gender portrayals and stereotypes in the
media—numbers of roles given to women versus men, stereotypical ver-
sus nonstereotypical roles, men as the “voice of authority”—the ﬁnding
To whom correspondence should be addressed at Department of Mass Communication, San
Marcos, Texas 78666.
2002 Plenum Publishing Corporation