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Advertising29 September 2017

Gender equality in advertising: more women needed

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When preparing for a presentation on the changes taking place in the field of digital marketing, I came across an interesting study “Gender Bias in Advertising”. Interesting, though from the perspective of its results, sad and puzzling at the same time.

The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media took over a display of over 2000 advertising creations from 2006-2016, awarded or selected for the Cannes Festival shortlist, and analyzed the participation of women and men in these campaigns. The survey showed that female person appeared in only 1/3 of all ads. What’s more, over the years a change in the direction of rubbing this inequality occurs at a very slow pace – in 2006, 33.9% of respondents advertising actors were women, and in 2016 this ratio was only 36.9% (3% change in plus).The chart below shows the changes in the participation of women and men in advertisements from the Cannes Festival over the last 10 editions:

In the context of averaged time and the participation of women in the commercials the issues are even worse. More than 43.5% of creation gave voice to women at 20% or less of duration of all dialogues in the campaign. In the surveyed ads men spoke 7 times more often than women. This disparity over 10 years remains – unfortunately – unchanged. The study also found that issues related to strength, confidence and broadly understood success were spoken more often by men than women (27% more often). After analysis using the Flesch-Kincaid test (assesses the degree of difficulty within the meaning of the text), it was also found that female fragments of advertisements are simplified. Male were mostly understandable for a five-year, while female – even below this age. Key facts from the study:

How to change this state of affairs?

By writing more ad scripts involving women, putting them at the center of the narrative, giving more time in the ad and much more challenging issues to speak. Most importantly – ceasing the objectification, duplication of sexist clichés and stereotypes and treating women equally with men in advertising, and of course not only in it. Here’s a note and a little hint for creative agencies: create mixed teams or involve women into every creative process – this is what according to a survey by the Geena Davis Institute increase the participation and role of women in ads by about 7.5%.

In the era of the facts, which show that women account for 85% of all purchases (by Yankelovich Monitor), including cars and houses, and:

91% of new flats and houses
66% of computers
92% of holidays
80% of insurance and health care
65% of new cars
89% of banks
93% of food
93% of OTC medicines,

so archaic approach to the “modern” advertising and long term discrimination of women’s role in it, is not only confusing, but primarily unacceptable. All who take part in the creative process should have the above information in the back of their heads and work collectively to change the image of the advertising industry currently dominated by men.

Recommended reading for all marketers and creative agencies in this topic:
Lipstick Economy: Stats on Women 
She-conomy
Purchasing Power of Women 

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