Decoding Archetypal Images of Motherhood in Magazine Advertisements

  • Lilit BaghdasaryanEmail author
  • Shona Bettany
  • Bogdan-Florin Mihaila
Conference paper
Part of the Developments in Marketing Science: Proceedings of the Academy of Marketing Science book series (DMSPAMS)


Mass-mediated marketplace images produce culturally accepted ideals, archetypes of motherhood that help to legitimate and constitute mothering identities and ultimately shape the consumption preferences. This article focuses on the imagery representation of mothers in magazine advertisements and reflects on how the interpretation of hidden archetypal meanings could open up new windows for marketers specifically targeting this category of consumers. It builds on the theoretical dispositions of consumer culture theory and visual consumption to conceptualise the motherhood portrayal in print media and highlight its impact on consumption choices through the construction of mothering identity. Based on this study, methodological aspects of interpreting images have been extended which resulted in gathering insights from participants via the use of photo-elicitation methods. The findings suggest that mothers in the UK are inclined to conducted visual consumption of mothering images/archetypes that mirror their own ideals rather than prioritising the actual product or service advertised. The research also suggests that there are limited portrayals of mothering roles, ethnical and sexual diversity in magazine advertisements. It suggests further research on mass media advertisements and extended scope of a broader scale in-depth interviews to address the needs and expectations of mothers as consumers.


Advertising Motherhood Visual consumption Consumer culture theory Archetypes Critical visual analysis 


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Copyright information

© Academy of Marketing Science 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lilit Baghdasaryan
    • 1
    Email author
  • Shona Bettany
    • 2
  • Bogdan-Florin Mihaila
    • 3
  1. 1.University of WestminsterLondonUK
  2. 2.Liverpool John Moores UniversityLiverpoolUK
  3. 3.University of San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA

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