As Brands and Ads Take Stands, Women’s Responses Are Divided

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Recent A+E Networks® research shows that while many female A+E Networks viewers expect consumer brands to take social positions and like to shop brands that share their values, there are also some who would prefer ads to stay away from advocacy.

As consumer brands are increasingly taking stands on social and cultural issues in their advertising, around half of female A+E Networks viewers see some advertising as divisive. In fact, a majority say they like ads that promote unity, and many say they’d like to see more ads that focus simply on product features and brand values.

Woman walking on a city street wearing red headphones

At the same time, six in 10 female A+E Networks viewers said they like to shop brands that have values similar to their own. Forty-two percent said it’s important know where brands stand on social issues. And about half said they want to see ads highlighting diversity and inclusion.

This is according to recent A+E Networks research into viewer preferences about the ads they see.

Divisions remain a theme. While 39 percent of women surveyed said they’d like to see more ads highlight female empowerment, 20 percent want to see fewer. Some 36 percent said they want to see more ads that overturn gender stereotypes while 24 percent say they’d like to see fewer of them. And 34 percent said they want to see more ads speaking to gender equality; 22 percent said they’d like to see fewer of them.

And while 29 percent of women surveyed said they want to see more ads featuring social activism, 26 percent said they want to see fewer of them.

When women in our study were shown some recent examples of the advertising approaches discussed, their reactions mirrored the preferences they’d stated.

While 39 percent of women surveyed said they’d like to see more ads highlight female empowerment, 20 percent want to see fewer.

The “Circles” ad from Levi’s, which features a highly diverse group of people dancing and promotes unity, was liked by 70 percent of the female viewers surveyed. Sixty-eight percent found its message relevant, and 53 percent found it relatable. “It represents everyone and reflects how important that message is right now,” said one respondent.

Olay’s Face Anything campaign, created by the female-oriented creative agency Badger & Winters, looks at and rejects the frequent characterization of women as having too much of things like confidence, strength, or vulnerability. Sixty-seven percent of female viewers surveyed liked the ad, 68 percent found it relevant, and 64 percent found it relatable.

3 women looking at a laptop computer

Still, some said they would have liked to see more average, relatable women. Others said that they felt like they were seeing too many ads about women’s advocacy. “I believe the message is strong and relevant,” one respondent said. “But as a woman, I’m getting tired of this movement.”

Source: A+E Networks Viewer Panel Study (HISTORY Makers, A&E Access, Lifetime Loyals), November 2018. Total Sample Female 18+ viewers of HISTORY®, A&E® and/or Lifetime® n=385.

For more information on our researchSheReports@aenetworks.com

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