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New 4A’s Survey Finds Three Quarters of Consumers Have Seen Advertising They Find Offensive in Its Portrayal of Women

4A’s, American Association of Advertising Agencies, diverse employees, Marketing, offensive advertising, portrayal of women in advertising, Pr, Public relations, sexism in advertising, Sexual harassmentThe vast majority of respondents (76 percent) in a recent survey from the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s) have seen advertising they deem “offensive” to women, the industry trade association revealed in a recent study examining consumers’ perceptions of how women are portrayed in ads.

The study, fielded by the 4A’s and research partner SSRS, found that a whopping 84 percent of female respondents have been offended by sexism in advertising. Further, 82 percent of total respondents have seen ads they find ridiculous in how they portray women, and 85 percent have seen ads that portray women as dumb, helpless or incompetent.

This survey was fielded at the same time as the 4A’s conducted a survey of its members to provide insight into how women and diverse employees are treated at agencies. In that survey, more than 50 percent of women said they had experienced sexual harassment at least once. Nearly half of the female respondents (42 percent) answered that they were not included in decision-making when they should have been, because of discrimination.

“Improving our hiring practices and treatment of female and diverse employees throughout the advertising industry will not only benefit our talent, it will benefit business,” said Nancy Hill, president and CEO of the 4A’s, in a news release. “This is an area we’re working to improve within our industry, and I believe that once we make further strides in bringing women into more executive positions and promoting them throughout creative departments, we will see a positive impact on the outputs consumers see.”

In addition to being offended, nearly half of female respondents are uncomfortable with their young female relatives seeing portrayals of women in advertising.

“As agencies, we need to ask ourselves: ‘Do we want to harm children, teens, women and men (aka humanity) with the advertising we create, or do we want to empower people with our creative? Do we want to protect the reputation of the brands we represent or hurt them?'” said Madonna Badger, chief creative officer and founder of Badger & Winters, in the release. “The right thing to do is clear, and the data supports that it’s the right thing to do for the brands we represent. There is never a good reason to portray women as anything other than whole, human and strong. We are women, not objects.”

SSRS conducted the consumer survey on behalf of the 4A’s, using the SSRS Probability Panel. Surveys were completed from June 23 to July 1, 2016, among a nationally represented sample of 1,027 respondents aged 18+. The margin of error for total respondents is +/- 4.23 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.

Source: PR Newswire; edited by Richard Carufel

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