In the past, discussions of stereotyping in advertising mostly revolved around the portrayal of women and frequently around the use of sexualised images. These issues are very much still live - Unilever’s 2015 research, for example, showed that 40% of women around the world did not identify with the way women are portrayed in advertising - but the debate is shifting as advertisers slowly wake up to the idea that they can be equally guilty of stereotyping men.
In 2017, the UK’s advertising watchdog signalled tougher regulation of campaigns that feature potentially harmful gender stereotypes, and in 2018 the World Federation of Advertisers launched a guide designed to help brands ensure their advertising reflects a more progressive portrayal of both sexes.
But the aims of these organisations are not necessarily reflected in what is happening on the ground, where advertisers frequently don’t do justice to the part men play in domestic life, according to Catherine Haigh of Premier Foods. In FMCG research thinking, she told the Market Research Summit (London, May 2018), the split is usually 80:20 female to male.