The American Association of National Advertisers has a new system to monitor how ads portray women

The Gender Equality Measure scores ads or entertainment on how and how prominently they depict women, like an ad-industry version of Six Sigma, the data-driven methodology aimed at eliminating defects in products or services.

“Increasingly our customers are holding us accountable, society is holding us accountable, for our footprint,” said Stephen Quinn, chairman of the Alliance for Family Entertainment subcommittee of the ANA. In earlier days as a chief marketing officer at Walmart and PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay, Mr. Quinn saw other parts of his companies paying closely monitor quality in their supply chains. Now he’s on a mission to get marketers to pay similar attention.

“We need the same supply-chain mentality as others in our company to fix this, or we’re going to struggle as a function for respect,” he said.

The Alliance for Family Entertainment has already evaluated 4,000 TV ads for its Gender Equality Measure, working in conjunction with research firm ABX, which uses an online panel to rate ad creative. It has shared the results privately with ANA members.

“We’re not out there naming and shaming,” Mr. Quinn said. That’s partly because he doubts it would be very good for ANA revenue to embarrass its paying members publicly. But the goal is really to show advertisers how they’re doing compared to competitors and the broader industry.

And members can make their own results public if they want — which will of course occur when the news is good. That happened at last month’s ANA annual Masters of Marketing conference, where Georgia-Pacific CMO Douwe Bergsma noted that his company produced an ad with the second-highest GEM score in the first round of research.

AFE is also looking at how ads with higher GEM scores fare in the market, and the results so far suggest they do better. Among the findings is that about 75% of voiceovers today are done by men, even though the research shows ads with female voiceovers are at least slightly more effective on average, based on ABX scores for such things as purchase interest.

Read the full AdAge story here.

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