Adverts are influencing how British people see themselves, according to a report by strategic quantitative research agency, The Numbers Lab.
The study, entitled Project Eden, looked at diversity and inclusion in advertising, revealing that a third (32 per cent) of people believe ads influence how they see themselves. A similar volume of people (33 per cent) believe ‘ads set unrealistic expectations and put pressure on people’.
Women are twice as likely to say that they feel ashamed of their body based on what they’ve seen in an advert – with 23 per cent of women stating this is the case vs. 10 per cent of men.
One in five respondents (20 per cent) also believe that ‘the people brands put in their adverts tells us who the brand thinks are valuable and important’. However, fewer than 10 per cent of people have recently seen adverts that they feel “represent people from all walks of life across the UK”.
In terms of what people want to see roughly two fifths (38 per cent) would like ads to present a more realistic portrayal of people in the world, followed by ads that do not resort to stereotyping (36 per cent) and the inclusion of more people with different body types and size (35 per cent)
This follows a new Advertising Standards Authority ruling having come into force in June that banned harmful gender stereotypes of all kinds.
The study also reinforces a clear commercial imperative for brands to act, as one in five (20 per cent) Britons claim ‘sexist brand advertising puts them off buying from that brand’ with this more pronounced for women – 25 per cent vs. 15 per cent for men.
Majbritt Rijs, Managing Director at the Numbers Lab said: “In recent years we’ve seen everything from public outcry against ‘Beach Body Ready’ and the photo-shopping of media and celebrity images, to companies such as Mars and Nike making a real commitment to diversity and inclusion. The advertising industry is clearly at a crossroads but this research lays bare both the moral and commercial imperative to take the path of inclusion.
“Ultimately consumers will switch off from brands that do not represent them or the world around them, but more than that if we exclude certain people, or pigeonhole people based on their gender, sexuality, age or race, we are sanctioning exclusionary behaviour, while reinforcing the notion that some people have a good or rightful place in the world and others don’t,” Rijs added
The report is based on contributions from 2,000 British consumers from across the UK.