One of the hot spots in criticism of advertising in recent years has been how campaigns continue to represent women. The studies have been happening and the criticisms that accompany them as well. Women did not appear as professionals, they were embedded in the stereotype of the housewife or they were objectified in campaigns that sold anything else.
Women in the real world did not identify at all with their peers in the advertisements. Brands promised to change things and, in fact, advertising trends appeared that broke with that trend, as was the case with the boom in empowerment advertising. The big question is whether, in general terms, this change has taken place.
The data does not invite optimism: ads continue to fall into the same decades-old cliches to present women and the world in which they move. The latest study has been prepared in Spain, based on data from the advertisements of the brands in this market.
The conclusions of Women and Advertising: Sexism in Commercial Communications , prepared by the Association of Communication Users (AUC) and funded by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, indicate that women continue to be presented in a stereotypical and discriminatory way. The advertisements, says the Minister of Consumption, Alberto Garzón, in the presentation of the study data function as a way of “perpetuating macho behaviors contrary to equality policies.”
For the women of the ads, the social changes of the passage of time and the waves of feminism have not passed. Thus, for example, advertisements for cleaning products are the province of women. 75.6% of the advertisements for these products feature them.
The same occurs with cosmetics, beauty and fashion advertisements, which have a female protagonist in 78.5% of cases. Women are also the main protagonists of food and beverage advertisements, with 65%. Faced with these data, women almost never appear in a professional activity.
That is, the ads that show a woman working are scarce. Only 28.9% of the ads do so (34.9% in the case that only women appear in the ad). In contrast, 43.4% of the women in ads who appear doing something are housewives. If the ad is carried out in a unique way by women, housewives go up and they are 56.2%.
The expert consumer
One of the points that studies on gender stereotypes have been pointing out as problematic in recent years is in the relationship dynamics and the role that women occupy between consumption and recommendation. In other words, women are not usually experts in advertisements, but rather those who receive a message of value from others – usually a man – that leads them to buy.
For example, this is what happens with the advertising of cleaning products in which a woman buys – and is desperate before stains that do not come out and similar problems – but first receives the advice of a man – the expert scientist who knows everything. on how you remove those stains. The data from the Consumption study also allow us to make a similar composition of the place.
The women in the ads are only prescribers or salespeople in 9% of the cases. In Spanish advertisements, they are always consumers or buyers, even when the product is not necessarily for them. To this must be added that 12.7% of women appear as a decorative element: this is what the study calls “the presence of women in advertising in which they do not have a commercial role.” Neither buy nor sell. 85.6% of those ads are aimed at men.