Procter & Gamble’s chief brand officer has called on companies and brands to commit to a “100% accurate portrayal of women and girls in advertising and media”, but a couple of recent studies suggest there is some way go to achieve that in parts of Asia Pacific.

“Brands have always had an impact on society, advertising affects our language, new product technologies change everyday life,” Mark Pritchard told the recent IAA World Congress in India.

“And that’s why brands need to promote gender equality – the images of people portrayed in advertising affect perceptions because they embed memories into our minds,” he explained. (For more read WARC’s report: P&G’s Pritchard cites equality, sustainability and tech as the future of brands.)

A recent study done on 40,000 ads found that 29% of women are still inaccurately or negatively portrayed through some type of stereotyping, objectification or diminished character, which Pritchard believes is unacceptable.

“We need to use our brands to eliminate this bias by accurately and realistically portraying women and girls in advertising and media, change attitudes and behaviour, and thereby drive growth,” he stated.

P&G is of course already attempting to do this in its advertising, such as #LikeAGirl for Always, but Pritchard wants far more companies to take up the cause and promote gender equality.

“Let’s at least double the number of companies and brands involved by 2020 and achieve 100% accurate portrayal of women and girls in advertising and media,” he suggested.

An indication of how far advertising has yet to go came in an AI-powered analysis of more than 20,000 advertisements from the pages of The Australian Women’s Weekly.

This showed how, for example, car advertising to women has dropped 85% since the 1980s, even though women today influence four in five car purchases. And while female incomes have increased significantly since the 1970s, the financial services sector does not reflect this shift in its advertising, B&T reported.

“If the consumer economy had a sex, it would be female,” observed Victoria Curro, managing director of data specialist LIDA, which helped carry out the research.

In Japan, meanwhile, just 22% of people think their workplaces are gender equal according to a study by McCann WorldGroup, reported in Campaign Japan. Jun Matsumoto, planning director at McCann Erickson in Tokyo, argued that brands have a role to play in changing attitudes, noting that around half of people think gender portrayals in the media are outdated.

Sourced from WARC, B&T, Campaign