Jabeer Butt, the deputy chief executive of the Race Equality Foundation said: "No one would want to stifle creativity by suggesting that we have to have a certain percentage of black and minority ethnic people portrayed in ads. However, these statistics suggest that advertisers are missing an opportunity to reach a growing segment of consumers."
Actors from ethnic minorities most frequently appeared in ads for household equipment, property, entertainment and pharmaceutical brands. They appeared less frequently in ads for food, motoring, retail, and telecoms.
Ethnic minorities were relatively well represented in Government ads, though mostly in walk-on parts. As feature actors they were under-represented.
Hamish Pringle, the director-general of the IPA, which has invested in its own diversity initiatives, said: "Portrayal is a very important element in this. If people see people like them in communications then they are likely to think ‘this is for me’. Thankfully this isn’t an institutionally racist business – it’s simply because the radar isn’t quite on every time there is a casting decision taken."