Does your socio-economic status influence the way you interpret media?

Have you ever been in a situation where you and another person just can’t see eye to eye on a certain topic?

There are hundreds of factors that can affect the way that you interpret things in your day to day life (eg. your upbringing, age, gender, nationality, socio-economic status, etc.) and no two people are ever going to think the exact same way about something.

When we look at famous communication and transmission models, they usually describe a scenario where the sender sends a message to the receiver and there are no problems. However, as we all know, this is not the case most of the time when trying to get a massage across to someone.

When someone sends a message, they are known as the encoder and when someone is a receiving a message, they are known as the decoder. However these two people probably share different interpretations of the code and that is where the problem lies.

I personally find the relationship between how people with different socio-economic statuses and interpretation of advertisements, really interesting. I often see influencers on social media promoting really expensive items that I know I personally wouldn’t be able to afford and I wonder how many people seeing the advertisement would realistically be in the position to buy that product.

I’ve located this Mercedes Benz advertisement because I think it could be interpreted many different ways by different people depending on their economic status and their belief system. The denotation of the advertisement, of course is to sell a product. The company want their viewers to spark interest in their cars and they want to build their brand’s reputation. The connotation however is a whole other story.

The slogan attached to this advertisement makes me feel many types of ways. I don’t think I know many people that would be genuinely impressed or attracted towards this type of message.

When I first saw this, I thought of some possible interpretations some people could have of this ad:

A man with lots of disposable income

Super impressed by this advertisement. Makes him feel powerful and genuinely ponders over the thought of buying a Merc in an attempt to ‘up’ his love life and social status.

Someone who strives for gender equality

Disgusted by the fact that they are advertising the idea that ALL women talk about is men (and in particularly rich men). Annoyed that the message advertises towards only men being the ones to buy this type of car.

Your average joe

Finds this ad humorous as they would never even think about buying this type of car and believes that there is a lot more to a person than what car they drive.

Aside from the influence that money could have on your interpretation of this image. The idea of gender roles and toxic masculinity is also an interesting topic of this advertisement.

Schroeder and Zwick researched visual advertising in 2004 and wrote a paper exploring how masculine identity interacts with the consumption of imagery, products, desires and passions in advertising and consumer culture. They wrote about how this type of advertising promotes ideals for masculinity which leads to conflicts for men such as their social presence and their relationships with other males and females.

‘The world of advertising largely reinforces
limitations, chiefly through its well documented, yet enduring, sexist representation of women, but also via limiting images of men’ (Schroder and Zwick, 2004).


Schroeder, J.E. and Zwick, D., 2004. Mirrors of masculinity: Representation and identity in advertising images. Consumption Markets & Culture7(1), pp.21-52.

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