Date of Award

Fall 12-5-2011

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Women's Studies

First Advisor

Layli Maparyan, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Amira Jarmakani, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Emanuela Guano, Ph.D.

Abstract

This is a critical discourse analysis research project that examines the print and television advertisements of Merck & Co.’s Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine GARDASIL®. There are three commercial campaigns identified for this project: “Make the Connection/ Charm4Life,” “Tell Someone,” and “One Less/ I Choose.” Two print and two television commercials per campaign are analyzed. I used black feminist and girls studies theoretical frameworks to address how representations of race, class, “girl power,” and the cooptation of feminist language are both expressed and utilized in the marketing as a method to target consumers. I conclude with “parody/ protest” advertisements of the vaccine featuring young women demonstrating a critical consumer voice towards the marketing of the vaccine. As a result, I found that the PSAs used fear-driven messages about HPV’s link to cervical cancer beginning a year before the FDA’s approval of GARDASIL® in order to market and sell its product.

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