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Why PR must avoid using male and female stereotypes in campaigns

21st July 2013


UK consumers do not like advertising that stereotype men and women. According to research from research firm Canadean Custom Solutions, beer advertisements are suffering the worst reputation, with 36 per cent of the respondents calling these “outdated” and “stereotypical“. Other product categories that reinforce unwanted stereotypes include cars (20 per cent ) and chocolate (15 per cent).

For PROs, it is important when advising clients about their campaigns to warn of the dangers of using stereotypical images. When working with advertising agencies on integrated campaigns, if it is not possible to steer the advertising away from sexist imagery, it makes sense to not focus on this in any supporting PR, as this is likely to generate worse results.

In particular, any PR campaigns that are aimed at younger adults should avoid gender stereotyping. Three-quarters (76 per cent) of 18-24 year olds think advertising aimed at men is outdated, whereas the 25-34 year olds are more likely to have this view of advertising aimed at women (74 per cent).

To what extent do you agree with the following statement: Advertisements for consumer packaged goods aimed at men are often outdated and stereotypical:

                                            Per cent

1 Strongly disagree                 1

2                                              1

3                                              5

4                                              5

5                                              20

6                                              21

7                                              20

8                                              15

9                                              5

10 Strongly agree                    8  

 

To what extent do you agree with the following statement: Advertisements for consumer packaged goods aimed at women are often outdated and stereotypical:

                                                Per cent

1 Strongly disagree                 1

2                                              2

3                                              5

4                                              6

5                                              17

6                                              18

7                                              16

8                                              17

9                                              8

10 Strongly agree                    9

 

Which of the following types of advertising, do you think have the most stereotypical types of advertising, either of men or women?

                                                Per cent

Beers                                        36

Wine                                         3

Spirits                                       2

Cars                                         20

Chocolate                                 15

Crisps                                       1

Hot drinks                                 2

Soft drinks                                1

Supermarket stores                  7

Other                                        3

None                                        11

Michael Hughes, research manager at Canadean Custom Solutions, says that this survey sends a message to manufacturers that adverts reinforcing gender-stereotypes could have an adverse effect on brand perceptions: “Such types of adverts are becoming increasingly outdated, with consumers – particularly young adults – seeking out products that make them feel sophisticated and stand out from the crowd. While such humour-based advertising that serves to reinforce gender stereotypes may be perceived as funny, they can actually have an adverse effect on brand perceptions”.

Methodology

Canadean Custom Solutions conducted its survey over the weekend Friday 14 June to Sunday 16 June. The survey was a sample of interviews with 2,000 nationally representative UK consumers over the age of 18.



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