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How Can Marketers Test Gender Equality in Advertising?

Marketers have become increasingly aware of unconscious bias and inequalities in their advertising creative.  This bias has shown up in a big way against women and girls, with ads casting them in traditional, powerless roles that don’t look anything like who they are today.

In recognition of the growing concern for how women and girls were portrayed in the media, the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) created the #SeeHer program.  The program launched in June of 2016 after the White House identified unconscious gender bias as a leading issue.  #SeeHer was established to improve the accurate portrayal of women and girls in media by 20% by 2020, the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote in the U.S.

To power #SeeHer, ABX developed the first-ever Gender Equality Index™ (GEI™) that fuels SeeHer’s Gender Equality Measure (GEM®). ABX has established the Gold Standard in global gender norms by testing more than 200,000 ads.

CLICK HERE to see the press release and the ESOMAR Award-Winning Case Study on ABX research findings demonstrating the significance of gender bias on Reputation and Purchase Intent.

Improving gender portrayal is not only a positive social objective, but it is also a profitable business strategy.  ABX was able to combine gender data with advertising effectiveness data to show the correlation between positive gender scores and positive brand reputation and higher call to action, including purchase intent.  As a result, the ANA, #SeeHer and ABX were honored by ESOMAR, the world’s premiere market research association, as the 2017 ESOMAR Research Effectiveness Award Winners.

Exhibit 1: Correlation between Gender Ad Scores, Brand Reputation, and Call-to-Action performance


ABX has expanded this study to Multicultural groups to make sure people of all ethnicities are respectfully represented.

Keith Weed, former Unilever’s Chief Marketing & Communications Manager, created a three-part approach to shifting Unilever advertising based on the role, personality and appearance of people in the ads:

  1. Portray people in roles that relate to their aspirations and broader achievements rather than just their responsibilities;
  2. Show characters with personalities that feel authentic, distinctive and characterful; and
  3. Represent diverse appearances and beauty in a way that is enjoyable, non-critical and a positive source of self-expression.

Unilever has seen a 24% increase in progressive consumer assessments of Unilever ads.  Unstereotyping our ads: Why it’s important and where we are, 6/16/2016.  

ABX Advertising Benchmark Index (, is a techno-research company focused on driving ROAS & ROI through their Global Integrated Single Solution.  Marketers, through the ABX Global Multimedia/Multi Channel Platform, are able to evaluate the effectiveness of all their creative and copy across all media types and channels, and against their competitors’ and other ads, representing approximately 90% of global ad spend.

Our solutions are designed by the Visionaries, Inventors, and Pioneers and inventors who helped create the methodologies used by legacy marketing research firms. Need something not listed on our site? Other valuable consumer data is also available for making informed, time-sensitive business decisions.