Marketers think they're getting gender right. The vast majority are confident that their organisations are creating advertising that avoids gender stereotypes and contains balanced content. But more female marketers think the industry is missing a beat with on average 13% fewer women agreeing.
Marketers think they are avoiding gender stereotypes
Source: Getting Media Right 2018 % very/ somewhat confident
Meanwhile, consumers on the other side of the scale think that marketers are getting it wrong, with 76% of female consumers and 71% of male consumers believing the way they are portrayed in advertising is completely out of touch (Kantar Consulting U.S. Yankelovich MONITOR 2015). This begs the question – what are marketers missing?
Consumer concerns are further validated by research from JWT/ Geena Davis Institute. In 'Unpacking Gender Bias in Advertising', an analysis of 2,000 Cannes Lions films from 2006 to 2016, researchers found that men speak seven times the amount women do in ads. Men get four times more screen time than women. And men are 62% more likely to be shown as 'smart'.
This data prompts disturbing questions about the nature of average, everyday advertising, considering that these striking gender inequities are based on scrutiny of the best of the best in advertising. Regardless, marketers can't escape the fact that the gendered consumer experience falls short of expectations and that perhaps there are good reasons for it.
According to the Unstereotype Alliance, not being progressive means "reinforcing rather than helping to eradicate harmful gender-based stereotypes".
Unfortunately, marketers continue to launch campaigns that collect negative consumer response and result in embarrassing climb downs. Yet it is the executions that aren't so obviously 'wrong', that go unrecognised, undiscussed or tolerated, that perhaps do the greatest disservice to consumers and brands. The reality is that a brand doesn't have to commit a major gender gaff to lose out on loyalty and market share. Ultimately, the data suggests that men, and particularly women, are not happy with the status quo and that brands can do better to connect in meaningfully different ways around gender.