Ben Bold
Nov 7, 2023

Unstereotype Alliance to assess race, disability and age representation in ads

Unstereotype Alliance to assess race, disability and age representation in ads

Diversity: Unstereotype Alliance's latest metric measures ad representation beyond gender (Getty Images/John Lund)
Diversity: Unstereotype Alliance's latest metric measures ad representation beyond gender (Getty Images/John Lund)

Unstereotype Alliance is strengthening its stance beyond identifying and helping eliminate sexist stereotypes in ads, with the launch of a metric that measures the progressiveness (or not) of representation around age, race and ethnicity and disability.

The "Progressive Unstereotype Metric" has been developed in partnership with WPP's Kantar, which found that while members of the Unstereotype Alliance produced ads with fewer tropes and clichés around gender, underrepresented communities rarely featured in ads in 2022.

Globally, a mere 1% of ads featured a person with a disability, only 33% featured people with different skin colour and ethnicity, while just 33% of men and 21% of women in ads were over the age of 40.

The UN Women-led coalition, which has a founding mission to eradicate harmful stereotypes from advertising, said the metric aligned with its "extended mandate to eradicate all harmful stereotypes, rather than focusing exclusively on gender stereotypes – a move formalised in 2020 when the Alliance began lobbying for more accountability across the industry".

The new metric complements the group's "Gender Unstereotype Metric", which was released in 2019 and gleans data from more than 50 countries.

Twelve member organisations have adopted the new metric, including Diageo and Mondelēz International.

Sara Denby, head of the Unstereotype Alliance secretariat at UN Women, said: "It has always been critical to authentically represent the full and rich diversity of our communities in advertising. But at the halfway point of the Sustainable Development Goals, when we are so off track, this has come into even sharper focus.

"The influence of the advertising industry and the unrivalled reach of advertising content means we can reset representation for the better and help drive positive social change. The new 'Progressive Unstereotype Metric' will help us transform deeply ingrained social norms, and to measure that transformation on a per-market basis, which is so desperately needed."

Nick Graham, global head of insights and analytics at Mondelēz International, said: "At Mondelēz International, we have fully integrated the Unstereotype Metric into our global creative measurement process. Beyond the metric's contextualised insight in positive representation of gender, we are eager to adopt the Unstereotype Alliance's new progressive approach. By bringing an intersectional lens into our standard creative evaluation, we are confident our creative will better represent our consumers on all global platforms."

Grainne Wafer, global director of beer, Baileys and Smirnoff at Diageo, noted that four years ago, the drinks group "integrated the Alliance's Gender Unstereotype Metric into our businesss", a move it described as "pivotal".

"More recently, we started using the Alliance's Progressive Unstereotype Metric to support our progressive marketing framework and incorporate a more intersectional approach to our creative content. It's provided another powerful lens for our teams that has accelerated our progress. Widespread use of measurement metrics like these are critical to our industry becoming more truly inclusive and representative in our marketing and advertising."

This summer, Unstereotype Alliance launched its first consumer ad campaign, called "Say nothing, change nothing". It focused on bystander behaviour in society and comprised three films. "The candidate", "The game" and "Winner", each highlighted common stereotypes around gender, disability and race.


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