Bias and Inclusion in Advertising: An analysis of 2019 Cannes Lions Work
This study examines representations of gender, race/ethnicity, LGBTQ+, disability, age, and body size in Cannes Lions ads from 2006-2019, with a focus on new findings from 2019. This is the first public report to analyze all six key identity groups in film-based advertising. We also include an intersectional profile for each identity group.
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- In 2019 ads, male characters outnumber female characters two-to-one, dropping from a high of 40.2% female characters in 2014 ads. Male characters also have twice the screen time and speaking time as female characters.
- Nearly twice as many male characters are shown working as female characters in ads (22.2% compared with 13.3%). Male characters are also more likely to be depicted as leaders and shown as possessing authority than female characters.
- More male characters are shown as funny than female characters (22.1% compared with 15.4%).
- When it comes to sexualization, female characters are four times more likely to be shown in revealing clothing than male characters (10.8% compared with 2.2%), and nearly twice as likely to be shown as partially nude.
- Characters of color are well-represented in ads (38%), and this has improved significantly since 2006. Characters of color garnered 46.4% of screen time in 2019 ads.
- White characters are more likely to be shown working than characters of color (20.5% compared with 17.2%).
- White characters are more likely to be shown as “smart” than characters of color (10.1% compared with 7.6%).
- LGBTQ+ characters are virtually nonexistent. Only 1.8% of characters with a discernible sexual orientation in ads are LGBTQ+ compared to 10.0% of people globally.1
- Non-LGBTQ+ characters are more likely to be shown working than LGBTQ+ characters (18.9% compared with 6.9%).
- Non-LGBTQ+ characters are more likely to be shown as “smart” than LGBTQ+ characters (8.9% compared with 6.8%).
- Characters with disabilities make up only 2.2% of characters in 2019 ads, which is well below the 19% of people with disabilities globally.2
- Characters with disabilities are far more likely to be depicted as “smart” than characters without disabilities (35.6% compared with 8.2%).
- In ads, only 7.0% of characters are ages 60+, which is well below the number of individuals in this age group globally (19%).
- Younger characters are more likely than characters 60+ to be shown in an office (6.1% compared with 1.7%).
- Characters ages 60+ are nearly twice as likely to be shown as leaders than younger characters (24.9% compared with 13.3%), and older characters are more likely than younger characters to be shown as having authority.
- Characters ages 60+ are more likely to be depicted as “smart” than younger characters (15.0% compared with 8.1%).
- Older characters (ages 60+) are more likely to be depicted with physical comedy than younger characters (15.0% compared with 8.6%).
- Only 7.2% of characters are shown with large body types – well below the 39% of people with large body types globally.
- Characters with large body types are more likely to be shown working than other characters (26.1% compared with 18.1%), but 15.3% are shown as “lazy” in ads.
- Characters with large body types are more likely to be shown eating or drinking than other characters (9.1% compared with 5.6%).
- One-in-five characters with large body types are included in an ad for comic relief (20.5%).
- Characters with large body types are many times more likely to be shown as “stupid” than other characters (9.1% compared with 1.8%).