The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) and the UN Women convened Unstereotype Alliance (UA) launched a collaborative study on Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) in Indian advertising. The report, prepared by brand research company Kantar was unveiled at the DEI Edge Summit, co-hosted by ASCI and UA, and supported by organisations such as Diageo, HUL and Disney Star.
The report provides insights on Indian advertising’s D&I representation versus global practice. Some of the key dimensions of D&I representation mapped in the report were age, gender, sexual orientation, race, physical appearance, social class, disability, and religion, across 28 markets around the world.
Compared to 33 percent consumers across the world, 48 percent Indians expressed the need for more inclusive representation by brands. The research scoured through all the new ads aired in October 2023. Key findings of the Indian study:
There was a near absence of representation diversity in Indian advertising: The study found a less-than-1 pc representation of the LGBTQ+ community, people with disabilities featured in less than 1 pc of the ads and only 4 pc of Indian ads depicted people aged above 65 years.
Women representation: While the presence of women in ads was comparable to men, stereotypes still prevail. More women are portrayed with fair skin tone (58 pc of women vs 25 pc of men on-screen), with less diverse physical appearance (39 pc of women were shown as slender vs 16 pc men on-screen) and low non-traditional roles (17.5 pc of women were depicted as the sole caregiver vs 3.5 pc men characters) and less authoritative (with male characters three times more authoritative than their female counterparts).
Women tended to be shown as younger with 86 pc of them between 20 and 39 years of age compared to 62 pc of men.
The study’s Unstereotype Metric or UM, designed by the Unstereotype Alliance with Kantar, tracks advertising to understand the impact on ROI for brands with more progressive advertising. Positive female and male UM unlocked higher marketing ROI, the study found, benefitting brand equity.
Manisha Kapoor, CEO and Secretary-General, ASCI, said, “There is no doubt that advertising shapes society. Indian advertising is missing the Diverse and inclusive narratives that can provide a real edge to brands, as can be seen in the study. Along with The Unstereotype Alliance and other partners, ASCI would like to nudge and support the advertising industry in getting its DEI representation right. The opportunity to include diverse perspectives and stories is a powerful one, and the event showcases the immense benefits both brands and society can derive from such progressive inclusions.”
Ruchira Jaitly, Chief Marketing Officer, Diageo India, said, “As marketers, we have a crucial role to play in championing inclusion and diversity and in telling stories that elevate diverse and progressive voices through brand campaigns where everyone is represented, from script to screen, and which resonate with our consumers. We started our journey on progressive portrayal seven years ago and are proud of our progress. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is a critical component of Diageo’s Society 2030 ambition and progressive marketing is a core part of this ambition.”
Susan, Fergusan, Country Representative, UN Women, said, “We, as the conveners of the Unstereotype Alliance India National Chapter, are pleased to host the DEI Edge Summit in collaboration with the ASCI Academy. Over the past two years, the Unstereotype Alliance in India has united brands, organisations, and individuals who believe in the transformative influence of advertising and media in fostering an inclusive society. Our efforts transcend campaigns; we strive to dismantle stereotypes, fostering a cultural shift that champions diversity and inclusion in advertising industry.”