IWD 2024: Older and women of colour ‘nearly invisible’ in ads, data reveals

Women of colour, especially those with darker skin tones and older women are being left behind in advertising.

According to CreativeX’s fourth Gender In Advertising Report, which is launched on International Women’s Day (IWD) annually, women with lighter skin tones appear four times more frequently than darker-skinned women.

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The data also stated despite ad spend on women in physical roles increased 1060% in 2023 compared to 2022, adverts featuring women with the darkest skin tones received only 2.6% of brands’ total ad spend, with older women remaining “largely invisible” appearing in just 1.5% of all ads, compared older men who are 25% more likely to appear in adverts.

However, ad spend on women with lighter skin tones increased by 2%, resulting in them receiving 82% of all media spend for women.

CreativeX Founder and CEO, Anastasia Leng, said: “For years, the lack of progress on representative advertising has been blamed on a lack of data, which hindered our ability to quantify the gap between where we wanted to be and where we were. Our industry dedicated lots of air time to talking about the problem, so many assumed we were getting better at inclusively representing people in ads.

“Well, the data’s here and it shows yet again that intent isn’t translating to action. Change doesn’t happen overnight, and it requires ongoing measurement to drive sustainable progress.”

She added: “Advancements in technology now enable us to track and measure the creative decisions we’re making, in near real-time, including breaking out how we’re casting and portraying people in ads and determining if those decisions map to what we know about our consumers and our markets’ changing demographic trends.”