Advertising is Out of Sync with World's Consumers

Adults across 28 countries feel advertising does not reflect the world around them

Advertising is Out of Sync with World's Consumers

The author(s)

  • Natalie Lacey Senior Vice President
Get in touch

Washington, DC - Over seven in ten men and women globally (72%) say most advertising does not reflect the world around them. Three in five (63%) don’t see themselves represented in most advertising. Further, almost half of consumers (45%) still see sexist ads that offend them, and 64% feel advertisers need to do more to eliminate traditional or old-fashioned gender roles in their ads. These are some of the findings from a global survey Ipsos conducted in partnership with the Female Quotient for the Unstereotype Alliance. For the survey, Ipsos interviewed a total of 14,700 male and female consumers aged 16-64 from 28 countries between August 24 and September 7, 2018 on its Global Advisor platform. 

The survey results highlight the strong influence of advertising on the global community – and how much it is perceived to set unrealistic expectations for consumers, particularly women and girls:

  • 76% of consumers believe that advertising has a lot of power to shape how people perceive each another.
  • 73% find that advertising influences how women see themselves, 75% say advertising influences how girls see themselves, and 67% agree advertising influences how men and boys see themselves.
  • 63% believe that showing men and women in traditional or old-fashioned roles in advertising influences how young people view the roles of men and women in their society.
  • 38% say they often feel ashamed of their body, based on what they see in ads, and 35% feel advertising often makes them feel like something is wrong with them.
  • 53% say advertising often sets unrealistic expectations and puts pressure on women and 50% feel advertising often sets unrealistic expectations and puts pressure on girls.
  • However, only 36% say advertising often sets unrealistic expectations and puts pressure on men and only 39% agree advertising often sets unrealistic expectations and puts pressure on boys.

In addition, advertising seems to be falling short on its ability to be inclusive:

  • 72% feel most advertising does not reflect the world around them.
  • 63% claim they don’t see themselves represented in most advertising, and 60% say they don’t see their community of friends, family, and acquaintances represented accurately in most advertising.
  • Only 44% say that, in recent years, it seems that more ads have people that look like people they know.

Many consumers feel there are steps advertisers should take:

  • 64% think advertisers need to do more to eliminate traditional or old-fashioned roles of men and women in their ads.
  • 52% really take notice when men or women are shown in traditional or old-fashioned roles in advertising.
  • 45% say they still see many sexist ads that offend them.

Global consumers are ready to embrace brands that are authentic in their portrayal of people and the world:

  • 84% really like when ads include a positive message about making the world better.
  • 75% of consumers say they feel more positive toward companies that demonstrate in their advertising that men and women have the same capabilities and roles.
  • 53% tend to buy from brands that show people from a wide range of backgrounds in their advertising.
  • 51% say they will actively seek out products from companies that promote gender equality in their advertising.  

Many consumers have noticed positive changes in how advertising represents people and their roles:

  • 73% believe advertising is presenting more people from a wide range of backgrounds in the last few years.
  • 55% feel there are fewer ads with traditional roles for men and women lately.
  • 53% find that advertising is presenting a more realistic portrayal of people in the last few years.
  • 48% agree that, recently, they have seen more positive role models in ads that inspire them.
  • 38% say they have been inspired by an ad in the past year. 

About the Study

The findings come from a study conducted in 2018 on the Ipsos Global Advisor platform, using the Ipsos Online Panel system.

  • The survey was conducted between August 24 and September 7, 2018 with 14,700 adults across 28 countries: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, France, Great Britain, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, and the United States. 
  • The sample size per country in each survey is approximately N=500 for Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, France, Great Britain, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and Turkey. The size of the U.S. sample is 1,000.
  • All survey respondents are aged 16-64.
  • Weighting has been employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the adult population according to the most recent country census data.
  • In 17 of the countries surveyed, internet penetration is sufficiently high to think of the samples as representative of the national population within the age ranges covered: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Poland, Serbia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Great Britain, and U.S.
  • Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Romania, Russia, Peru, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and Turkey have lower levels of internet penetration. Samples from those countries should not be considered to be fully nationally representative, but instead to represent a more affluent, connected population, representing an important and emerging middle class.
  • Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online nonprobability sampling polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the survey has a credibility interval of approximately 5 points for all respondents from each country with a sample size of approximately 500 and 3.5 percentage points for the U.S. which has a sample size of approximately 1,000.

For more information about conducting research intended for public release or Ipsos’ online polling methodology, please visit our Public Opinion Polling and Communication page where you can download our brochure, see our public release protocol, or contact us.

For more information on this press release, please contact:

Natalie Lacey
Chief Client Director
Ipsos Connect
Natalie.Lacey@ipsos.com

About Ipsos

Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. Ipsos ranks fourth in the global research industry.

With offices in 89 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across five research specializations: brand, advertising and media; customer loyalty; marketing; public affairs research; and survey management.

Ipsos researchers assess market potential and interpret market trends. They develop and build brands. They help clients build long-term relationships with their customers. They test advertising and study audience responses to various media and they measure public opinion around the globe.

Ipsos has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999 and generated global revenues of €1,780.5 million in 2017.

The author(s)

  • Natalie Lacey Senior Vice President

More insights about Public Sector

Society