Interview with Dr. Sylvie BORAU on Consumer Behavior & Ethical Advertising

Ethics, Advertising Consumer Behavior iin Markering at TBS Paris

Dr. Sylvie BORAU is the Head of the TBS Research Lab on Social and Innovation Marketing. She publishes in academic journals on consumer behavior and presents at European and international conferences. Her current research topics include physical attractiveness in advertising, food marketing, green marketing, and gendered marketing.

Dr. BORAU joined that TBS Department of Marketing and International Business as a tenured professor of Marketing in 2013. She teaches consumer behavior, ethical marketing, communication and marketing research.

How did you become interested in teaching?
I love knowledge, I love to learn new ideas, and I love to communicate these new ideas. Looking back to my childhood, I used to love going to school. And my favorite task at school was to present a project with innovative ideas to the class. Most importantly now, I feel that I can make an impact beyond that of academics, by helping students becoming responsible managers in the future.

What attracts you to the subject of consumer behavior?
I have a keen interest in understanding our word, and our human nature. Advertising and consumption are mirrors to ourselves, our beliefs, our desires. They are the best source of evidence of who we are, what we want, and how we think. When studying advertising and marketing, I try to better understand the underlying mechanisms of a phenomenon in consumption.

You actively publish articles about how women are used in advertising, do you think that women or men are more to blame? What would you say to young women who covet models in magazines? Is this an effective way to do marketing?
If physically attractive women are ubiquitous in advertising, it’s because both men and women love to look at physically attractive women! And because it is an effective strategy (in most cases). So, everyone is to blame. However, exposure to thin and sexually provocative models can have detrimental effects both for men and for women. To curb these detrimental effects, it would be wise to contain its pervasiveness and to avoid the most vulnerable consumers to be overly exposed to such ads.

Because exposure is inevitable though, I recommend educating young audiences to these unintended effects – as young audiences are both more targeted by sexual appeals and more vulnerable. I do not recommend eradicating sexual provocativeness from advertising though, as banning these advertisements would be tantamount to giving a politically correct and archaic representation of women. However, consumer-advocate organizations, media watchdogs, and concerned citizens have a large role to play, both for raising public awareness and for incentivizing companies to maintain responsible practices.

Click here for more information about Dr. BORAU’s work on Provocative Female Models In Advertising: Triggering Indirect Aggression

Click here for more information about Dr. BORAU’s work on Ideal or natural beauty in commercials: what if natural-looking models don’t attract but repel?

Describe your teaching style or give an example of effective teaching.
I don’t think that I have a teaching style. I usually incorporate blended teaching styles that match the objectives of a specific course. But there is a common pint in all my classes: I always communicate passionately. I don’t like it when things are “lukewarm”, I don’t like boredom, I don’t like ordinary things. So, I always try to transform my course in a unique and lively experience.

What is your favorite thing about Paris, any recommendations?
I used to live in Paris. My favorite thing when I go back to Paris is to visit my friends, and eat amazing food with them in a nice bar à vin. When I’m by myself, I love sitting on the terrace of a café and watching people pass by.

Dr. Sylvie BORAU is a member of the following organizations:

  • ACR, Association for Consumer Research
  • EHBE, European Human Behaviour and Evolution
  • EMAC, European Marketing Aademy
  • SCP, Society for Consumer Psychology
  • AFM, Association Française du Marketing

She holds the following awards: Sphinx, Best Dissertation Award (2015); AFM-FNEGE, Finalist Best Dissertation Award (2014) and Best Paper Award for “young author” (2012) and Prize Novela “young author” (2012)

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