The study also found that gender bias in advertising is further aggravated by age bias. For instance, most female characters in advertisements during the five-year period considered for the study were in their 20s and 30s, whereas the age of male characters varied widely. Females were also more likely to wear revealing clothing than males and be portrayed in the home, shopping and cleaning, whereas men were more often shown at work and in leadership positions. These portrayals of traditional gender roles clearly no longer reflect our new, more positive reality. Neither do they portray the complexities of life in a realistic manner despite there being proof that more realistic and inclusive content draws audiences in. For example, Frida Mom’s 2020 Oscars ad, which accurately and realistically depicted postpartum life for mothers, went viral despite being labeled “graphic” and banned by ABC. This example highlights audiences’ desire to see portrayals of their lives and narratives realistically, even when the subject matter is deeply personal or private, because it is nonetheless about a shared human experience.
The Google study shows there is still room for improvement when it comes to the representation of women in media as well as plenty of incentives to do so. Remember the 30% more views on YouTube for women-led and gender-balanced ads over other videos? Well, in case that was not convincing enough, Frida Mom’s banned 2020 ad received more than 1.5 million views on the brand’s YouTube channel in less than two days.
Despite each of the six identified trends being different from the others, there are some common themes among them, mainly the importance of inclusion, connection and community. For more information on the other five key trends that will define the marketing landscape, check out our white paper.