New Study Reveals Consumers Care Deeply About Gender Equality in Advertising

Gender equality graphic

NATIONAL REPORT — A new study reveals a direct correlation between the Association of National Advertisers' (ANA) Gender Equality Measure (GEM) score and sales lift.

Representatives from IRI, Kellogg Co. and the ANA #SeeHer initiative presented study results during the Oct. 2 Advertising Week New York conference.

ANA's #SeeHer initiative seeks to eliminate gender bias in media and promote more accurate portrayals of women through media and advertising.

One of many companies involves with the initiative, Kellogg submitted its Special K "Own It" campaign to be evaluated using the GEM score, which is used to quantify consumer reaction to the treatment of women in advertising and programming. IRI then leveraged its measurement solution, IRI Lift, to uncover correlations between the Kellogg advertisements' GEM scores and its offline sales lift.

Results showed that ads with the highest sales also had the highest GEM, scores while ads that generated the lowest sales lift had the lowest GEM scores. Additionally, the Special K #SeeHer campaign generated the highest sales lift when ads appeared during commercial breaks of television shows with above-average GEM scores.

Using GEM to effectively plan its Special K campaign allowed Kellogg to outperform IRI's consumer packaged goods foot category sales lift averages by more than 200 percent.

"The Special K brand is committed to encouraging women to embrace body confidence and leverage inner strength to succeed, which makes it an easy and critical decision to show women equitably in our marketing," said Christie Crouch, director of Special K marketing. "While we believe it is the right thing to do in support of strong women, now we also know it is a positive business decision as seen in our partnership with #SeeHer and IRI."

Women are industry influencers for both the messages produced and the buying power they command, and study results amplify the pressure on marketers to join the growing #SeeHer movement by uncovering newfound financial incentives associated with higher GEM scores, the companies said.

This initiative shows the impact of marketing efforts made to more effectively speak to women through advertising, which has resulted in improvements to the bottom line and greater equality in media.

"This study once again proves that consumers care deeply about gender equality in advertising, and they reward the advertisers that get it right," said Stephen Quinn, chair of ANA #SeeHer. "We are looking forward to sharing the results with marketers and the industry."