Biased advertising’s impact on business (and how to address it)

Most of our unconscious biases guide what we do. So, what happens when unconscious biases creep into marketing?

Creating more inclusive campaigns requires understanding where bias comes from, how it impacts advertising, and how to avoid the bias trap.

Unconscious bias in marketing?

Unconscious bias is defined as various social stereotypes and judgements people make unconsciously based on factors such as age, weight, socioeconomic status, race, gender, or sexual orientation.

Our actions are primarily unconscious; that’s how we make the millions of decisions it takes to live usually each day. We make so many judgement calls in our brains that we don’t even realize we’re making unconscious biases.

Biased advertising: Business implications?

A crucial part of a marketing team’s responsibilities is identifying and correcting unconscious bias because these assumptions can harm your business and society.

SEEHer’s Gender Equality Measure (GEM) was used in an IRI and SEEHer study to identify gender bias in advertising and programming. In the survey, ads with the lowest sales lift had the lowest GEM scores, while ads with the highest sales lift had the highest.

How biases in advertising manifest?

One widely criticized advertising campaign by Dove featured a Black woman who transformed into a white woman after using its soap. In the campaign, Dove focused on purity represented by whiteness, an idea that was immediately perceived as overtly, if unintentionally, racist.

An example like this makes it easy to assume you’re safe if your brand hasn’t done anything as horrific. But unfortunately, advertising examples of unconscious bias are everywhere, even less noticeable.

How do you combat biased advertising?

Make sure you follow these steps in your creative process:

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