ASCI will be launching a study on gender in advertising with Future brands – Genderscope 2021. This study will be a deep dive in gender depiction in Indian advertising and will have actionable insights to have a positive impact on gender depiction. This report will also be a centrepiece of year in which ASCI focuses on gender initiatives. The study will cover multiple categories including Personal, fashion & beauty care, hearth, home and health, gadgets and wheels, money and education.
The major objectives of this gender study include:
Unravelling gender narratives in advertising through a collaborative journey, Evolving and enriching gender understanding in the context of cultural change and Providing insights to navigate and embrace positive gender narratives in advertising.
Manisha Kapoor, Secretary-General at ASCI, speaks to MediaNews4U on the report and other initiatives in 2021
Why this new initiative based on gender?
Gender in advertising has been a much-debated issue over time. The gender narrative is constantly changing, but the change is not linear and not always simple to navigate. At ASCI we believe that advertisers do intend to show more positive depictions, but often get stuck in stereotypical narratives. GenderNext is an actionable insight study. Through this, we want to enable brands and agencies to focus on progressive, culturally relevant and aspirational gender portrayal in their advertising by exploring newer starting points.
Its key objectives of the study are:
- To unravel gender narratives in advertising through a collaborative journey
- To evolve and enrich gender understanding in the context of cultural change
- To provide insights to navigate and embrace positive narratives for women in advertising content.
The report will be released in September 2021 and uses a multi-enquiry framework. To begin with, there will be a semiotics and cultural decode of Indian advertising over time, across categories and regions. In addition, advertisers, creative voices, policymakers and gender experts will be consulted for their inputs. Ad clinics will be conducted across 10 centres with consumers for their views and feedback on gender depiction in advertising, as well as their lived reality. The study will draw an understanding of the larger cultural shifts in India through Bharat Darshan, a proprietary study done by Future brands over a decade, and across more than 200 towns. GenderNext is a first-of-its-kind seminal study and will be of significant value to advertisers and creative agencies, as well as academia, policymakers, and advocacy bodies.
The study will cover multiple categories: personal, fashion and beauty care; hearth, home and health; gadgets and wheels; and money and education.
As a self-regulatory body, ASCI do not limit itself to being a complaints management body but also helps advertisers navigate through complex issues and contribute to the creation of positive advertising. ASCI will support brands and advertisers to “get it right” in various ways, and this is one such initiative.
For ages advertising across the globe has used Women in their communication, how will this initiative work?
This study will help responsible advertisers take better decisions about broadening perspectives and designing narratives in more real, progressive and aspirational ways. We look at advertising both targeted at women, as well as categories that have traditionally not spoken to women as much.
You are talking about a collaborative journey, can you elaborate?
ASCI has partnered with Future brands, given its vast experience and expertise, to launch GenderNext, which kick-starts our focus on gender this year. The landmark study has already received support from organizations such as Nobel Hygiene, ITC-Vivel, Kellogg, Colgate, Diageo, Eureka Forbes, Mondelez and Kotak Mahindra Bank. We expect many more like minded organizations to join hands with us.
Today the UN Women’s Unstereotype alliance was launched and ASCI is collaborating as the founding ally of the India Chapter. We will continue to synchronise our efforts with organisations with similar objectives to further our gender agenda.
For a shift to have the desired impact, it is imperative to work in collaborative and inclusive ways.
When you talk about cultural change, what does it mean?
The study will map shifts over time through a cultural and semiotic decode of advertising over time and will draw from insights from the rich repertoire of people’s truths gathered from Bharat Darshan – Future brands decade long proprietary study mapped over 200 towns. The depiction in advertising will be contextualised against a larger shift in real lives as experienced by women, families, workplaces and society as a whole. The study, among other things, will provide a bird’s eye view on the evolution of gender roles, expressions and aspirations in India – mobility, identity, aspiration, progress, fault-lines.
Will this initiative also look into inclusiveness, in brand communications?
GenderNext is a comprehensive and immersive study that will look into past and current gender narratives in Indian advertising and articulate rich and actionable insights. It definitely moves the agenda forward in terms of better inclusion, and we will continue to build on this in the coming time.
Are we going to be seeing many such initiatives in 2021?
Self-regulatory organizations have a dual role- both to shape as well as to regulate narratives in advertising. We have largely done this through our constantly evolving guidelines and improving our complaints process. However, with societal changes happening in rapid and nonlinear ways, we feel that ASCI must lead advertisers’ understanding of what makes for more responsible advertising and help them navigate these complex issues. This is going to be our approach going forward, where we work collaboratively on such initiatives. Immediately after the GenderNext study, we announced ASCI joining hands with UN women to be a founding ally of the Unstereotype Alliance, India Chapter. We are certain that such partnerships will drive much-needed thought, conversations and actions towards positive gender portrayal in advertising. We will continue to create impact through such initiatives in 2021 and beyond.