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IRI is out with a new study, conducted with SeeHer, which describes itself as "the largest global movement for accurate representation of women and girls in advertising and media," concluding that advertising campaigns that "more accurately portray women and girls" translate into "more meaningful growth for marketers."

According to the study, "Ads with GEM (Gender Equality Measure) scores above the baseline overall delivered 60% improved sales performance on average across gender, language, race and ethnicity."

The study goes on:  "Creatives that meet or exceed GEM baseline saw sales lift increase for Black women by 80% and 41% for Hispanic women … Equality also is an important issue for men, with 73% citing it “personally important" … Results show that accurate portrayal of women leads to a 120% sales lift among Hispanic men and a 196% lift among Black men."

“The results of our 2021 study show a clear and significant sales lift for ads that accurately portray diverse women, proving that meeting consumers’ rising expectations of gender equality in advertising is critical for brands seeking growth,” said Jennifer Pelino, executive vice president of Global Media Solutions for IRI, in a prepared statement.  She added, "Equality starts with cultural perceptions and media plays a key role in ensuring appropriate character depiction, but quantitative evaluation is key to moving the industry in an upward direction.”

KC's View:

It is good to see that more accurate portrayals of women in advertising can pay off for marketers, since, let's face it, the bottom line for these folks usually is the bottom line.

But it is important to keep in mind the moral and ethical imperative behind accurate portrayals.  Idealized, often unreasonable and objectified portrayals of women in the media - not just in ads, but in movies and on television shows, on football sidelines, and certainly throughout social media - put terrible pressure on all women, but especially girls, to live up to some image in ways that can create depression, substance abuse, and even suicide.

I'm glad to see that the sales lifts have been quantified even among men, but I do think we have a long way to go.

I was having a conversation with a fellow a few weeks ago, someone I knew a bit when our kids were in Little League at the same time.  He was bemoaning the fact that he couldn't refer to women in office settings as "the girls" or "the gals," and, while acknowledging that we'd never go back to the good old days, sort of implied that he did think that those, in fact, were the good old days.

I was a little surprised.  He's my age, but we're not that old.  But then I had a realization.

"You only have sons?" I said.

That's true, he said.

"Well, that explains it," I said.  "If you had a daughter, I suspect that she would disabuse you of the notion that there was anything good about those old days."

I have a daughter - she's 27 - and one of the things I am proudest of as a father is that she has grown up to be an independent, strong-minded, empathetic, sometimes challenging person (in the best possible way) with an incredible work ethic.  I take no credit for this - my biggest contributions probably were staying the hell out of her way when that was the best approach, and trying to being there for her when appropriate.

She teaches me about life - and the world in which she lives - all the time.  For which I am enormously grateful.