How does the Wireless Industry Treat Gender Equality in Advertising?

The new Gender Equality movement in advertising is hot, as led by the Association of National Advertisers‘ #SeeHer initiative. Presenting all genders respectfully in advertising impacts Reputation and Calls to Action. Today’s focus is on Gender Equality in wireless advertising.

So how does the wireless industry portray men, women, and children in its ads? Not too well. Wireless ads averaging a score of 95 out of 100 on 998 ads measured by the ABX Gender Equality Index™ (GEI). This shows the industry has some work to do.

There are certainly some strong gender ads produced by wireless, and we’ll look at a couple. But first, see the box below which spells out “good” and “bad” ABX advertising effectiveness scores in all areas including GEI.  It’s all about scoring above 100 to maximize your advertising spend.

How to read the ABX Index scores.

Here are two examples of wireless ads that reaped high Gender Equality Index™ scores:

#1. TracFone – “Lost Dog”TracFone has the highest-rated ads in the Wireless industry for Gender Equality.

TracFone does a great job of story-telling and gender representation in this top wireless ad. A mother helps her daughter post a sign for her lost dog. A couple soon finds the dog and contacts the owners via TracFone. The story is engaging and strong with a clear Message as TracFone enables connection between the families. All characters reap high GEI™ scores, particularly the women, who helped drive huge Reputation and Intent to Act (Action) scores.  Finally, the spot was just plain Likeable, thanks to smiling women, a dog, and a kid!

ABX Scorecard for TracFone ad showing strong Gender Equality scores.

#2. Apple iPhone 7 Plus – “My Girl, Welcome”

Great spot from iPhone with very high Gender Equality scores.

What a glorious ad, worth watching as an idea-starter for using your wireless phone on travel.  A young woman travels back to the “old country” and the locals want to be photographed by her iPhone. Both men and women photograph beautifully, as reflected in the GEI scores below. Note the big Reputation score and clarity of Message. Surprisingly, the Awareness score is barely average. Apple needs to strengthen its branding in spots like this.

ABX scorecard for Apple's iPhone ad with excellent Gender Equality scores.

Wireless Ads that are not Gender Equality Friendly

We’d love to show you some of the ‘bad’ ads for gender portrayal, but the advertisers wouldn’t much appreciate it! However, the following observations will help:
  • The lowest-scoring ads (GEI scores of 66-75) had heavy sexual overtones. Some are very funny and the producers undoubtedly thought the humor would overcome any potential offensiveness.  Had they been tested for gender equality, however, the ads likely would not have aired.
  • Many other low-scoring ads were not overtly sexual but still featured scantily clad or “silly” women.  These were likely targeted toward a very young audience, which might have been more forgiving. However, the GenPop audience judged them offensive in gender portrayal.
The gender equality issue is extremely sensitive and costly. Pretest your ads, iterate, and test again in-market.  You can’t be too careful in today’s climate of political correctness.
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