Gender plays a significant role in the way consumers behave; it also considerably affects the way they perceive and evaluate advertisements for controversial products. This paper examines the way that male and female Lebanese consumers perceive the advertisements for each of the following controversial product groups: (a) sex and gender products, (b) social and political products, (c) addictive products, and lastly, (d) health- and care-related products. Data was collected through a phone survey administered to a random stratified sample drawn from the Lebanese population based on geographical conglomerates. The survey involved 527 Lebanese consumers, with a fair representation of gender, education levels, and age groups. A principal component analysis allowed the grouping of 17 controversial products into four groups. Statistical results show that gender plays a major role in shaping customers’ perception of advertisements for controversial products, with female respondents showing significantly greater levels of offense with regards to the advertising for sex- and gender-related products, social and political products, and addictive products when compared to their male counterparts. Results also indicate that both male and female customers find the advertising of health- and care-related products not to be offensive. The findings of this study provide advertisers with a deeper understanding of the influence of a customer’s gender on the perception of controversial products and their advertisements, hence facilitating the adequate choice of advertising messages and strategies.

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