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IRIS 2018-1:1/22


CSA publishes first study on the image of women in advertising

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Amélie Blocman


The national audiovisual regulatory authority (Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel - CSA) has published its first report on the representation of women in television advertisements. Law No. 2017-86 of 27 January 2017 on equality and citizenship gave the CSA specific responsibility in the fight against sexism in advertising, as illustrated by the new provisions of Article 14 of the Audiovisual Act: “It [the CSA] shall monitor respect for the dignity of all persons and the image of women who appear in televised advertising.” It was in this context that the CSA, determined to make an active contribution in this area, conducted the study. It examined 2055 advertisements broadcast by all traditional and more recent DTT channels (24 channels altogether) between October 2016 and April 2017 in order to gather the first set of data on this subject. Having studied each advertisement in the light of eight questions, the CSA made five key findings. Firstly, more men were featured than women (54% men, 46% women) even though, according to the National Institute for Statistics and Economic Research (INSEE), women make up 52% of the French population. Secondly, there is a stereotypical divide in terms of product categories (men advertise cars while women promote beauty products). For example, women are more likely to appear in advertising for “beauty products” (63%), “clothing/perfume” (57%), “leisure” (56%) and “medical and health products” (55%). Conversely, men are more prominent in advertising for “gambling services” (78%), “cars” (64%), “insurance/banks/mutuals” (59%), “technology/digital products” (58%), services (56%), “food/distribution” (54%) and “household objects and products” (52%). Thirdly, as regards role distribution by gender, almost all experts are men (82% men, 18% women). The only expert in the “clothing/perfume” category, however, was a woman and 56% of “beauty” experts were female. The CSA also found that two-thirds of ads in which characters were sexualised depicted women (67% women, 33% men). Finally, 54% of commercials that contained partial or full nudity featured women (46% men). Meanwhile, the findings of the second part of the study, devoted to a detailed analysis of the results by product category, do not appear to tally with current social practices. The CSA says there is a definite need to study further the impact of gender stereotypes on television viewers, as well as how to identify stereotypes in advertising. During the first half of 2018, the CSA will therefore draw up a roadmap explaining the actions it plans to take to ensure respect for the image of women who appear in television commercials.

Représentation des femmes dans les publicités télévisées, étude du CSA, novembre 2017 FR
  Representation of women in television advertising, CSA study, November 2017