The "Un-Candidates": Gender and Outsider Signals in Women's Political Advertisements

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13 Scopus citations


Much has been written on whether female candidates "run as women" in their campaigns. This study explores the role of gender in political advertising through a systematic analysis of campaign commercials from U.S. House, Senate, and Governor races from 1964 to 1998. I hypothesize that candidates will use "femininity" in the commercials as a marker of "outsider" status. This theory considers image differentiation and branding as they relate to gender in political advertising. Advertisers typically use branding for two reasons: (1) to manufacture illusory differences to differentiate nearly identical products (such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi); and (2) to emphasize and expand real differences (7-UP, for instance, tries to differentiate itself from both Coca-Cola and Pepsi by branding itself the "Un-Cola"). Female candidates who correlate feminine character traits and women's issues with an outsider presentation in their campaigns are trying to be the "Un-Candidates." The data in this study reveal the importance of contextual factors in determining whether a female candidate will undertake an "un-candidate" strategy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-147
Number of pages33
JournalWomen and Politics
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Dec 18 2003
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gender Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science

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