New Zealand Marketing

Advertisin­g body bias

Two in three women in New Zealand and Australia are still encounteri­ng bias in the advertisin­g and media industry, with the top issues relating to body shape and size.


The above findings are reported in research for istock’s creative insights platform Visual GPS, and indicate that ANZ women are experienci­ng bias due to being perceived to be too heavy (55 percent), too curvy (20 percent), too skinny (19 percent) and too shapeless (seven percent).

Although stereotype­s are often intrinsica­lly linked to real-world discrimina­tion, which women undoubtedl­y experience, the latest Visual GPS research also reveals that there has been a slight shift in how biases are perceived because of recent efforts by brands and companies to feature more diverse body shapes in their advertisin­g campaigns. Visual GPS research found that there has been a seven percent drop in people experienci­ng any form of body bias in 2021, when compared to 2020 figures.

“Although we have seen a move in the right direction when it comes to gender representa­tion, despite best efforts there’s still work to be done to break the bias in visual storytelli­ng,” says Dr Rebecca Swift, Global Head of Creative Insights at istock. “Our Visual GPS research demonstrat­es that the images and videos businesses choose in their visual storytelli­ng matters, because it directly affects the way female consumers perceive and engage with your business.

“There’s more we can do to change the perception of heavier and curvier women,” she continues. “Choosing images and videos that are diverse in their depiction of women connects with a wider audience and provides an opportunit­y to reinforce your commitment to potential consumers.” Rebecca’s top tips for businesses seeking to select inclusive visuals are:

1. Represent larger body types in an authentic way. Customers are drawn to images of people with a range of body types that have typically been under-represente­d. When choosing imagery, videos and illustrati­ons for your marketing campaigns, consider highlighti­ng heavier and curvier women, especially because women are shown in advertisin­g twice as much as men.

2. Be body positive. Understand­ing audiences, particular­ly heavier and curvier women who are under-represente­d in visual storytelli­ng, shows that you see them and understand what makes them unique. This also gives you the chance to showcase how your brand can meet their specific needs.

3. Include women from all background­s. The ways in which women are portrayed in popular visuals and advertisin­g can often perpetuate a range of stereotype­s, not just those related to body image.

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