Commentary

Unstereotype Your Ads

To mark International Women’s Day (March 8), the Global video marketplace, Unruly company, has created a stereotype analysis as part of its content testing solution, UnrulyEQ Max, which evaluates whether the ad’s content reinforces harmful gender stereotypes of women and men.

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Examples include ads that objectify people’s bodies, or show certain occupations or roles being more suitable for a particular gender. The report, which analyzed more than 2,000 films from Cannes Lions, revealed that men were 62% more likely to be shown as smart, and one in three men was shown to have an occupation compared to one in four women. Research released by Unilever also found that only 3% of ads feature women in leadership or professional roles, and 1% show women as funny.

Ads, analyzed by Unruly, are scored using a traffic light system, with content deemed to be sexist given a red light. JWT New York and The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media says that recent research suggests the ad industry is guilty of "forgetting about women", with ads twice as likely to feature male characters than female characters, and women 48% more likely to be shown in the kitchen, says the report.

44% of UK women say that advertising makes them think they’re not good enough (source: UM London ‘Women in Ads’), while some women are switching off from advertising altogether. Recent research, by the JWT London Innovation Group, finds that nearly three-quarters of women over the age of 50 shun all forms of advertising, says the report.

Unruly’s Global SVP, Data, Cat Jones said: “The ad industry is failing women. It’s a century after women first won the right to vote in the UK and next year it will be the 100-year anniversary of the women’s vote in the US, but we still have a long way to go. “How can the ad industry hope to engage consumers when what it presents is not an accurate, authentic portrayal of gender roles in the 21st Century?”

Head of Insight at UM, Michael Brown, who co-authored the ‘Women In Ads’ report, said: “Making ads that authentically represent society isn’t just ethically the right thing to do, people expect it. Our research shows that 48% of UK women would be more likely to buy from brands that challenge stereotypes, while 64% of UK women feel there’s no future for brands that chose to show outdated stereotypes in their campaigns.”

Brown concludes that “Unruly’s data-powered approach is an essential asset for advertisers, moving the auditing of ad creatives for sexist content and tone from hunch to objective fact.”

Finally, the report notes that ads are analyzed to see whether they feature any of 13 different gender stereotypes identified in the ASA’s 2017 report, ‘Depictions, Perceptions and Harm’. Stereotypes include content that objectifies, sexualizes or features stereotypical roles and occupations, such as women as homemakers and men as engineers or scientists. If any of these stereotypes appear in the ad, it’s given an amber light by Unruly’s traffic light system. If the stereotypical aspects of the ad are causing negative responses from respondents, the ad is given a red in the traffic light system.

For additional information from Unruly, please visit here.

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