In the era of #MeToo, where does the advertising industry stand?
At a time when gender equality, inclusivity, and pay equity are top priorities in nearly every industry, players in the advertising world are taking notice. Not only are advertisers looking to become more inclusive and balanced in their creative work, but they are also striving to bring more diversity into their ranks.
How Ads Are Evolving
Diversity in advertising is reaching fever pitch thanks to the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements. Many brands are working towards a fairer and more balanced treatment of women in their advertising, including JC Penney, which recently launched its “Style and Value for All” campaign. Market leader Marc Grebstein describes pushing as more realistic and relevant for today’s consumers.
“[T]The tone and imagery of all of our marketing is on point and shows a clear representation of ethnicity inclusion, as well as fit, styles and sizing, as not every woman comes in a size two model,” she said. According to Grebstein, the campaign had initial success with women and multicultural customers.
The Association of National Advertisers unveiled its #SeeHer campaign in 2016, which aims to eliminate gender bias in advertising and accurately portray women and girls in the media. Research for the initiative is ongoing, and last month ANA and TiVo published a study proving that advertisements that accurately portray women and girls are more liked and more socially acceptable by both men and women, especially when paired with programs that accurately portray women.
“Our research consistently proves that consumers reward marketers who create ads and support programs that accurately portray women and girls. #SeeHer is good for business and good for society,” said Stephen Quinn, president of the initiative.
Although the industry is beginning to shake up the status quo, some changes are a little slower to take hold. Among this year’s Super Bowl commercialsfor example, 73% included women, up from 62% in 2017, but ads in which women play a significant role fell from 43% to 34%, according to research firm ABX.
Reinforce the idea that women are misrepresented in today’s advertising world, a recent report of Hill Holliday’s Origin and Match Media Group found that 48% of single American women ages 30-45 who don’t have children think they’re “non-existent” in ads. The report recommends that advertisers strike a balance between what is currently primarily family-oriented and appeal to this demographic that describes themselves as independent, confident and responsible.
How the industry is changing
As strides are made to change the industry from the inside out, female advertising executives launched their own movement in March, dubbed The Time’s Up ad, with the aim of directly combating harassment and discrimination within the industry. The group’s mission includes driving new policies, practices and actions to create more balanced, diverse and accountable leadership; fight against discrimination, harassment and abuse in the workplace; and creating fair and safe cultures within agencies.
“As women in leadership roles in advertising, we agreed that we have the power to change this company we love until it is more like the industry we want to lead,” reads- on in a letter on the Time’s Up Advertising website. “As leaders, it’s our responsibility to foster a workplace where people are challenged but still respected.”
In another effort to level the playing field for women in advertising, IT company HP embarked on an effort to increase diversity among its partner agencies in early 2017. In one year, the company not only saw an increase 20 points in the number of women working in HP teams. , but the company also saw a six-point increase in HP’s purchase intent and sales drivers. Additionally, Nielsen reported a one-third increase in revenue per impression, and using ANA’s gender equality measurement methodology, HP also saw its ad effectiveness jump five points.
“Industry transformation requires holistic and systemic change across customers, agencies and production houses,” said HP Chief Marketing Officer Antonio Lucio. says Forbes. “We can accelerate this change by releasing dashboards, sharing best practices, and building a strong business case for diversity by sharing results,” he said.
To this end, blogger Philip Ellis written for Ogilvy that it is crucial for the industry to dispel myths about the best candidate for a particular type of job and to foster diversity of talent.
“[A]Any outdated or harmful ideas that are incubated in an office environment will eventually seep into work, hampering creativity and sending the kind of biased messages that will end up causing even more problems and starting the cycle all over again,” he said. -he writes.
While the true outcome of these movements and programs has yet to be seen, the trajectory of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements has certainly given the advertising industry a starting point.
Emily Crowe writes Food & Beverage and Marketing Briefs at SmartBrief and covers industry news for Food & Beverage SmartBlog. She has a bachelor’s degree from Ohio University’s EW Scripps School of Journalism, and you can follow her on Twitter @SB_Food.