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Some women still discriminated against in ads says new report

Women of colour and older women were nearly invisible in ads in 2023 says CreativeX, launching its annual Gender in Advertising Report, timed for International Women’s Day.

In 2023 CreativeX says, older women appeared in just 1.5% of all ads (D&G below is a positive example); women with lighter skin tones appeared 4X more frequently than darker-skinned women and women with the darkest skin tones received only 2.6% of brands’ total ad spend.

The report found that ads predominantly confine women to traditional roles, such as family and domestic settings. While the representation of women in these roles decreased from 66% to 30% between 2022 and 2023, their representation in non-traditional roles like leadership (3.4%) and professional (8.5%) settings remains disproportionately low.

Even when women are depicted in non-traditional roles, ad spend decisions “undermine” their visibility, according to CreativeX. Although ad spend on women in physical roles increased 1060% in 2023 compared to 2022, the overall investment in these portrayals of women remains low, accounting for only 3.7% of spend on ads featuring women.

The new analysis includes data from 32,213 “assets” backed by over $260 million in ad spend from 322 brands, 81 markets, across 8 digital channels in 2023.

Founder and CEO Anastasia Leng says: “For years, the lack of progress on representative advertising has been blamed on a lack of data, which hindered our ability to quantify the gap between where we wanted to be and where we were. Our industry dedicated lots of air time to talking about the problem, so many assumed we were getting better at inclusively representing people in ads.

“Well the data’s here and it shows yet again that intent isn’t translating to action. Change doesn’t happen overnight, and it requires ongoing measurement to drive sustainable progress. Advances in technology now enable us to track and measure the creative decisions we’re making, in near real-time, including breaking out how we’re casting and portraying people in ads and determining if those decisions map to what we know about our consumers and our markets’ changing demographic trends.”

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