Unstereotype Alliance: Bias and Inclusion in Advertising

Tuesday 7th of July, EACA attended the monthly meeting hosted by the Unstereotype Alliance. The discussion focused on the representation of marginalised communities in advertising.

Susie Walker, Head of Awards, Cannes Lions and Madeline Di Nonno, CEO, Geena Davis Institute presented some of the key findings of The bias and inclusion in advertising study co-published by Cannes Lions with The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media at Mount Saint Mary’s University.

The study includes for the first-time data on representations of gender, race/ethnicity, LGBTQ+, disability, age, and body size in Cannes Lions ads from 2006 – 2019.

The study shows that progress for women in ads seems to have stalled with a slight decrease in female representation from 39,9% in 2018 to 38,6% in 2019. Furthermore, female characters are 4 times more likely to be shown in revealing clothing and 6 times more likely to be shown verbally objectified compared to their male counterparts.

The representation of people of colour in 2019 advertisements declined to 38.0% (from 43.1% in 2018) with black characters often depicted as less professional and less funny than white characters.

Percentages decrease sharply when it comes to characters belonging to the LGBTQ+ community, people with disabilities and characters with large body types (respectively 1,8%, 2,2% and 7,2%).

Overall, the study shows that although we are making progress, progress is not happening quick enough.

Walker finally shared some positive actions to address diversity and inclusion:

  • Nurture the talent pipeline
  • Get specific
  • Diversify your casting
  • Think about who is behind the camera
  • Challenge your assumptions on D&I
  • Talk to your clients

Brent Miller, Associate Director, Global LGBTQ+ Equality; Creative Content and Partnerships at Procter & Gamble talked about the journey undertaken by P&G towards LGBTQ+ visibility in advertising.

P&G has looked back at the lessons they have learnt from their past to move towards a more positive dialogue and supportive ecosystem.

Here are some of the campaigns carried out by P&G over the past few years to help create a conversation around LGBTQ+ visibility:

Advertising has the power to start constructive conversations, shape mentalities and influence perception. They Will See You underlines the importance of visibility and representation in advertising suggesting that each voice has its own story to tell.

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