Mars reveals gender bias in own advertising

Food company calls for greater diversity and less stereotyping in communications.

Dolmio: 2017 ad showed a mum preparing dinner while the dad and son play video games
Dolmio: 2017 ad showed a mum preparing dinner while the dad and son play video games

Mars is urging the industry to better reflect the diversity of consumers in advertising campaigns by revealing research showing its own shortcomings in this area.

Research into Mars campaigns by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media at Mount St Mary's University found that while the brand performs better than the industry baseline when it comes to diversity, more work needs to be done in relation to gender representation.

The study examined more than 200 Mars global TV ads across confectionery, food and pet-care products. It found a ratio of 3:2 in the number of men versus women represented and that men were almost twice as likely to be shown working than women.

In addition, 22% of male characters were shown as leaders, compared with 17% of female characters, and there were more male than female characters shown to have a profession – at 26% and 11% respectively.

Mars Wrigley chief category officer Berta De Pablos said: "As one of the world’s most awarded advertisers, Mars has a responsibility to shape the world we want tomorrow. We believe the best advertisements are about more than just great creative.

"The best ads take on the responsibility to accurately reflect society. We hope that by releasing some of our findings from the institute, we can encourage the larger industry to prioritise the equitable inclusion and representation of women."

Mars, which owns brands including Maltesers, Skittles and Dolmio, said it would look further into closing the gap on gender representation and stereotyping in its marketing and advertising.

The findings were unveiled during a panel hosted by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media at this year's Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity.

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