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Men are 38% more likely than women to be featured prominently in adverts, study finds

'Greater prominence of men in advertising is likely a marker of historical precedent'

Sabrina Barr
Tuesday 29 January 2019 01:02 GMT
Gillette shares powerful message about toxic masculinity with new advert: 'We Believe: The Best Men Can Be'

Men are almost 40 per cent more likely than women to be featured prominently in adverts, new research has uncovered.

The release of Gillette's new marketing campaign, called 'We Believe: The Best Men Can Get', received a huge online reaction, with some praising the shaving company for raising awareness of toxic masculinity and others criticising it for supposedly insinuating that all men behave in a harmful way.

The advert also sparked conversations on the subject of portrayals of gender in mainstream advertising.

Following the release of the Gillette advert, data insight and consultancy company Kantar decided to explore how the public perceives depictions of men and women in adverts.

After conducting a study titled 'AdReaction: Getting Gender Right', the company concluded that women appear in 67 per cent more adverts than men.

However, when women appear in adverts alongside men, the men are 38 per cent more likely to be displayed in a prominent manner.

"Women may feature more often because many brands attempt to target women as the main household purchaser. But as we have learnt, sometimes this may be misguided," the company states.

"What is clear is that greater prominence of men in advertising is likely a marker of historical precedent."

While modern society may believe that it's come a long way with regards to breaking down gender stereotypes, Kantar's findings showed that this isn't necessarily the case.

According to the study, women are more likely than men to be portrayed as both likeable and caring, traits commonly categorised as feminine.

Furthermore, 45 per cent of people believe that women are more likely than men to be depicted in an inappropriate way.

Kantar's study also provides illuminating information about portrayals of women in authoritative positions in advertising campaigns.

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The researchers concluded that adverts featuring women in positions of authority have a 72 per cent likelihood of being believable, 16 per cent higher than adverts featuring authoritative men.

On top of that, adverts with authoritative women have a 68 per cent likelihood of persuading customers to take an interest in the product being adverts.

"Authoritative (and perhaps perceived as non-stereotypical) female characters motivate audiences more strongly, increasing believability and persuading people to buy," Kantar explains.

"Facial coding results show that such portrayals are surprising to viewers who show greater expressiveness. In contrast, authoritative male characters generate more branded cut-through."

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