Mars admits men outnumber women 3:2 in its ads - and promises to improve representation

Mars' Women's World Cup work for the FA

Mars has identified a gender imbalance in its own advertising, notably that men outnumbered women by 3:2. It aired these stats as part of a broader gender stereotype study on stage at Cannes Lion.

Research from Mars and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media looked to study gender stereotypes in advertising - just days after the ASA UK reeled against the issue with new rules.

Machine learning tools analysed more than 200 Mars global television adverts across various chocolate, gum, fruity confections, petcare and food brands (after the company recently rebranded and restructured). It identified more than 300 ad characters. It noted that Mars's representation "is shown as better than the industry baseline".

Nonetheless, in Mars' ads, men were nearly twice as likely to be shown working than women. Furthermore, 22% of male characters were shown as leaders vs 17% of female characters. Generally, more men than women were depicted with a job – 26% vs 11%, respectively

Speaking during the Institute’s Panel, Mars Wrigley's chief category officer Berta De Pablos, said that Mars has a "responsibility to shape the world we want tomorrow".

"We believe the best advertisements are about more than just great creative. The best ads take on the responsibility to accurately reflect society. We hope that by releasing some of our findings from the Institute we can encourage the larger industry to prioritize the equitable inclusion and representation of women.”

Madeline Di Nonno, chief executive, Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, added: “We are proud to partner with Mars, a company that has iconic brands and global scale, in taking proactive and progressive actions to examine gender representation in their ads and also for sharing these findings at Cannes Lion. Data has always been the key to inspire dialogue and motivate systemic change across the industry as we recognize the need to achieve equal and positive gender representation in advertising and media.”

Mars promised to work with agency partners, the Institute, and the UN’s Unstereotype Alliance to close the gap on gender representation and stereotyping its marketing and ads.

Join us, it's free.

Become a member to get access to:

  • Exclusive Content
  • Daily and specialised newsletters
  • Research and analysis

Join us, it’s free.

Want to read this article and others just like it? All you need to do is become a member of The Drum. Basic membership is quick, free and you will be able to receive daily news updates.