The image of women in television advertising: report by the French CSA

posted on 08 November, 2017   (public)

The image of women in television advertising: report by the French CSA

On 31 October 2017, the French “Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel” (CSA) published a report on “The image of women in television advertising". The report addresses, inter alia, the issue of stereotypes that commonly surround the image of women in commercial communications. The Council undertook this action as part of its newly entrusted mission to monitor the image of women on advertising programmes.

A sample of 2055 television commercials on 24 selected channels was monitored and the CSA drew up the following five conclusions:

  • Higher representation of men in all roles: Of the 2,055 advertisements viewed, men in all roles are more likely to be portrayed than women, 54% vs. 46%, even though women represent 52% of the French population.

  • A stereotypical distribution of product categories: Women are represented in the majority of advertisements for body care (63%), clothing/perfumery (57%), leisure (56%) and medical and paramedical products (55%). In opposition, men are more likely to be featured in gambling (78%), automotive (64%), insurance/banking (59%), technology/digital (58%), services (56%), food/distribution (54%) and household goods (52%) advertising spots.

  • Experts presented almost exclusively as men: the roles of experts are almost exclusively occupied by men (82% vs. 18% of women experts). Consumer roles and aesthetic or inactive roles offer a more balanced presence of women and men (49% females vs. 51% males).

  • Two-thirds of commercials containing sexual content feature women: Of the 2,055 ads viewed, 82 featured sexualized characters: 55 (67%) were for female characters and 27 (33%) for male characters. The sectors of clothing/perfumery (53%), food/distribution and automotive (16%) are the sectors that most often use a sexualized representation of women.

  • 54% of the commercials showing partial or total nudity of characters depict women: A partial or total nudity of characters was found in 7% of the advertisements viewed, all product categories combined; 54% of them depict women and 46% men.

The findings confirm the Council's conviction that it is necessary to strengthen its reflections on the influence of gender stereotypes on viewers. The results will be presented to the CSA’s Committee on Women's Rights so that it can address the issues raised and examine them in detail. The CSA is also considering interviewing professionals of the sector, organizations with competence in the image of women in advertising, etc. In 2018, the Council will draw up a roadmap setting out the actions it will take to actively ensure that the image of women in advertising is respected.

Source: CSA Website