Human face is a universal and key feature that affects physical appearance and attractiveness (1, 2), and marketing experts use attractive faces and smiles in product advertising. There are two reasons for using a human face: firstly, it serves as an access point to different abstract systems of numerous companies that are being advertised (3); secondly, it contains a great amount of information, the most important ones in advertising are emotions (4).
The role of emotions in marketing is based on increasing the emotional link between consumers and a brand. A commercial which can surprise, amuse or even make people cry enables the advertisers achieve their goals – inculcating the products in audience`s minds, making positive associations with the brand and driving sales up (5). There are several different marketing instruments which can trigger certain emotions of the targeted audience such as sex appeal, humor appeal, fear appeal and joy appeal with the latter presenting people laughing and having a good time (5). Although smile is not the only way to trigger happiness, it is still a universal expression which plays an important role in social interaction (3, 6, 7).
Face and smile esthetics are significant components of the contemporary communication in politics and political marketing where political parties spend a vast amount of money to address their thoughts and messages with the help of media, marketing and public relation experts (8). An attractive smile helps winning the elections (8), also, attractive people are considered to be intelligent, successful, fair and compassionate because of the common belief - what is beautiful is considered good (2, 3, 6).
The way the media transfer information about different problems and events creates phenomenon known as news framing or media framing (10). The media tend to emphasize certain things while the others are left out, which infers the way individuals interpret and consider those information, and in that way media can influence public opinion (8, 9). Advertising associates better and more glamorous lifestyle with attractive appearance, and uses every communication channel, from newspaper to social media, to spread their messages to all age groups and both genders (10-13). Media stereotypes play an important role in creating self-dissatisfaction, and after comparing one's own face and body with media`s ideals, people become very self-critical and ashamed of themselves, that is, of their own physical appearance (11-13). The power of marketing is verified by the fact that the biggest promotors of the oral health and smile esthetics are not dentists nor are preventive campaigns run by the state authorities. Instead, they are run by oral hygiene remedies' suppliers (14).
Smile characteristics are important features of dentofacial esthetics and are composed of: smile width, visibility, appearance and position of the teeth, visibility of gingiva and buccal corridors (15, 16). The buccal corridor is the space that appears during smiling between the labial surface of maxillary posterior teeth and the inner mucosa of the lip (17). There is ever growing demand upon dentists to create an attractive smile, often influenced by advertisements. Therefore, the aim of this study was to explore the frequency, context and characteristics of the smile esthetics used in newspaper advertisements, regarding the target audience.
Material and methods
Four examiners (two dental students, one general dentist and one orthodontist) analyzed all advertisements from 46 randomly selected European magazines and newspapers published in the period between August and October, 2014. There were daily (10.9%), weekly (37%) and monthly (45.7%) magazines represented as well as those which were published less often (6.5%). The genres of the selected magazines were as follows: 3 political / newsweekly magazines, 3 children’s magazines, 3 sport magazines, 5 fashion, 6 general, 7 tabloids, 17 lifestyle magazines, one musical and one economy magazine. Media content analysis, a research method in mass communication studies for quantitative description of the content of communication, was used (18). Framing analysis was applied to study the context within situations and activities (19). Frames are the measures of context, i.e. conceptual tools which media and individuals use to transfer, interpret and evaluate information. The questionnaire consisted of 20 items, regarding the presence of people, the smile characteristics, the context of smile use, target audience, impression of success and health in people. Smiles were distinguished as spontaneous or posed. Spontaneous smiles activated the orbicularis oculi muscle as well as zygomaticus major muscle (20). The chi-square test was used in statistical analysis in commercial software IBM SPSS 22 (IBM, Armonk, NY, USA).
People were present on 425 (70.8%) of the 600 analyzed advertisements, and 77.6% of advertisements showed smiling people. Most frequently, the advertisements targeted adults (94.2%) and adolescents (37.8%), rarely elderly people (28.2%) and children (4.2%). The advertisements with people have presented targeted adults and elderly people more often than the advertisements with no people (in adults 69.6% vs. 30.4%; p=0.004, in elderly 55.6% vs. 44.4%; p<0.001; Table 1).
The advertisements more frequently targeted women (49%) or both genders (41.8%) than exclusively men (9.2%). Men were equally addressed by advertisements with and without people present, while women and both genders were more often addressed by advertisements with people present (83.7 vs. 16.3% for women and 60.2 vs. 39.8% for both genders; p<0.001; Table 1).
A typical commercial headshot features a nice smile which takes up a quarter of the size of the entire advertisement, and was presented equally as spontaneous and posed. In 79% of the cases there were visible teeth in the smile, and the buccal corridors were present in almost 39% of cases (Figure 1 and 2). The distribution of the visibility of teeth in people with smile is shown in Figure 2. The advertisements with smile most frequently presented the adults (80%) and most rarely the elderly (4.8%), as shown in Figure 3. Women (45.9%) or both genders (29.2%) were presented more often than men only (2.6%) as can be seen in Table 2. The advertisements displaying smile as opposed to the ones without a smile insinuated the context of success (98% vs. 84%; p<0.001), positivism (95.5% vs. 66%; p<0.001), health (98% vs. 93%) and optimism (83% vs 38%). Smiling women photos were present more often (73%) than smiling men photos (63%, Table 2).
*Hi-kvadrat test nije primjenjiv jer neke kategorije imaju ≤ 5 članova *Chi-square test is not applicable because some categories have ≤ 5 participants
Human smile is frequently used in marketing purposes since it associates the product or the service with positive emotions, optimism, health, and success. Most people show their teeth when they smile and buccal corridors are visible in less than half of those people. Posed and spontaneous smiles are equally represented, although the previous research suggested that a spontaneous smile may increase the success of advertisement (21).
Advertisements mostly target the adults because of their income, also the positive emotions associated with smiling leave bigger impression on adults; because they memorize positive pictures more accurately than children or the elderly (22). The majority of advertisements target women, probably because they are more attentive to receiving messages and tend to evaluate multiple sources in their decision making (4, 10, 23). Men and women process information differently; advertisements that target women tend to be more detailed and have more content (23) because their left and right side of the brain interact more successfully. Also, women were more often represented in the advertisements, which is similar to the findings by Sheehan (10).
The main characteristics of the smile in advertisements are visible full-length crowns of the maxillary front teeth and the buccal corridors, while the gums are rarely visible. Some studies suggest some doubtful effects of the elements of smile esthetics on the overall attractiveness. People generally notice greater discrepancies in tooth positioning and do not focus on details of smile esthetics (16). People tend to keep their view longer on the mouth area of the face as the malocclusion of teeth increases (7). Buccal corridors are regarded as an important feature of smile, and if their visibility exceeds 10–15% of the smile width, they are considered unpleasant (17). The presence of minimal buccal corridors is a preferred esthetic feature in both men and women (16, 17), and they are present in just under one half of the people in advertisements. Only 1% of the people in the advertisements had an excessive gingival display amounting to 4 millimeters, or even more than that, which is perceived as esthetically unpleasant (15). Micro parameters of the smile esthetics (golden proportion, the occlusal cant, and midline shift) were difficult to determine in some cases because the non-standard and non-frontal projection photos were used and the photogrammetric measurements could not be performed.
The frequency and characteristics of the smile used in marketing were not thoroughly analyzed in previous studies, although these features are often used to enhance the success of every advertisement (26). Advertisements and commercials may strongly influence preferences, attitudes, behavior and habits starting as early as in the young age and are integrated into the process of socialization of the child as a consumer (24). The contribution of the influence of advertising on the growing appearance dissatisfaction in the general population therefore must not be ignored (11, 13), with higher prevalence of the body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) among subjects seeking orthognathic surgery (11.2%) and in orthodontics/cosmetic dentistry settings (5.2%) (25). One in five persons diagnosed with BDD are not satisfied with their dental appearance, and remain dissatisfied with their treatment outcome (25, 26). Nevertheless, the improvement of the dentofacial esthetic is growing in demand in dental offices (26-29). Separating beautiful image from its context and promise of a better life could be a starting point in communication between patients and dentists. Identification of the smile characteristics, which are promoted as desirable through the advertisements, could improve the relationship between dentists and patients in the communication, expectations and satisfaction with treatment outcome.
Smile is often used in newspaper advertisements because it provides the context of positive emotions, optimism, health, and success. Teeth are visible in majority of the people when they smile while buccal corridors are visible in less than half of those people. Posed and spontaneous smiles are equally present. Parameters of micro smile esthetics are not in the focus of an advertisement.