Advertising in Asia conforms more to gender stereotypes, with powerful segments including Muslim women under-represented, according to new research by FMCG giant Unilever.

According to a study of ads in Asia conducted by Unilever, diverse representation of various consumer segments – from “Muslim ladies wearing hijabs” to “same-sex parents” – are underrepresented in advertising, if at all.

The study showed just 3% of ads in Asia feature women over 40 years of age, while not a single ad features men cooking or people with disabilities.

According to Aline Santos, Unilever’s Global Executive VP Marketing and Head of Diversity and Inclusion, the region’s advertising industry needs to step up and represent the diversity of the region in its work. (For more on how Unilever is ensuring more diverse representation in its advertising, click here.)

“We should be excited to show different people,” Santos said at the Spikes Asia event recently, adding that putting tired stereotypes to rest not only helps make for a “more progressive… and much more inclusive society”, but is “win-win” as it is good for business.

“It is something that you should take as an imperative for your business, because this brings tangible results,” she said, noting Unilever’s research which indicates that more diverse advertising can increase brand impact by 25%, increase purchase intent by 18% and improve credibility by 21%.

Two years ago, Unilever’s Brook Bond Red Label, in line with its proposition of breaking down barriers, broke away from stereotypes to launch India’s first transgender pop band – and became a global phenomenon at the same time.

With the campaign, the brand consideration score soared to 69% while brand penetration increased by 400 base points. On YouTube, the music videos raked in over 8 million views, with more than 35% being organic viewership versus the industry benchmark of 11%.

“We lost some consumers, but also, we gained many more,” Santos said of the gamble. “Those new consumers that we got are absolutely amazing. They have been lifting the brand. The brand now is growing three times [faster] than before.”

Sourced from WARC