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New Unruly Testing Tool Lets Advertisers Know If Their Ads Are Sexist

Global video marketplace launches new stereotype analysis on International Women’s Day to help advertisers ‘unstereotype’ their ad campaigns – Image credit: Eli Rezkallah

LONDON, SYDNEY, SINGAPORE, NEW YORK – March 8, 2018 – Global video marketplace Unruly today launches a new insight tool that tests to see whether an ad is sexist or not.

To mark International Women’s Day (March 8), the company has created a stereotype analysis as part of its content testing solution, UnrulyEQ Max, which evaluates whether the ad’s content reinforces harmful gender stereotypes of women and men.

Examples include ads that objectify people’s bodies or show certain occupations or roles being more suitable for a particular gender. Ads are scored using a traffic light system, with content deemed to be sexist given a red light.

The announcement comes at a time when advertising watchdog the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is cracking down on sexist advertising following a report by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), its sister organisation, arguing for tougher regulation of gender stereotypes in ads.

Recent research suggests the ad industry is guilty of “forgetting about women”, with ads twice as likely to feature male characters than female characters, and women 48% more likely to be shown in the kitchen (source: JWT New York and The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media).

The report, which analysed more than 2,000 films from Cannes Lions, revealed that men were 62% more likely to be shown as smart and one in three men was shown to have an occupation compared to one in four women. Research released by Unilever also found that only 3% of ads feature women in leadership or professional roles, and 1% show women as funny.

So it’s hardly surprising that 44% of UK women say that advertising makes them think they’re not good enough (source: UM London – ‘Women in Ads’), while some women are switching off from advertising altogether, with recent research by the JWT London Innovation Group finding that nearly three-quarters of women over the age of 50 shun all forms of advertising.

Unruly’s Global SVP, Data, Cat Jones said: “The ad industry is failing women. It’s a century after women first won the right to vote in the UK and next year it will be the 100-year anniversary of the women’s vote in the US, but we still have a long way to go.

“How can the ad industry hope to engage consumers when what it presents is not an accurate, authentic portrayal of gender roles in the 21st Century? Our new stereotype analysis will help advertisers unstereotype their video campaigns and create content that engages consumers.”

Unruly CEO Sarah Wood said: “The focus for International Women’s Day 2018 is all about #PressingForProgress. It’s about action and activism. We hope Unruly’s stereotype analysis tool, which identifies male as well as female gender stereotypes, will provide an early warning system for 21st Century brands that want to move on from the outdated gender stereotypes that alienate their customers and threaten to undermine the reputation of their brand.”

Head of Insight at UM, Michael Brown, who co-authored the ‘Women In Ads’ report, said: “Making ads that authentically represent society isn’t just ethically the right thing to do – people expect it. Our research shows that 48% of UK women would be more likely to buy from brands that challenge stereotypes, while 64% of UK women feel there’s no future for brands that chose to show outdated stereotypes in their campaigns.

“Unruly’s data-powered approach is an essential asset for advertisers, moving the auditing of ad creatives for sexist content and tone from hunch to objective fact.”



Ads are analysed to see whether they feature any of 13 different gender stereotypes identified in the ASA’s 2017 report, ‘Depictions, Perceptions and Harm’. Stereotypes include content that objectifies, sexualises or features stereotypical roles and occupations, such as women as homemakers and men as engineers or scientists. If any of these stereotypes appear in the ad, it’s given an amber light by Unruly’s traffic light system.

Ads are also examined using facial coding, verbatim and survey responses from both men and women. If the stereotypical aspects of the ad are causing negative responses from respondents, the ad is given a red in the traffic light system. Unruly is also introducing a survey question which asks respondents to score from 1-5 (5 being the most stereotypical) to what extent the ad’s creative reinforces gender stereotypes. Unruly’s stereotype analysis is available on all UnrulyEQ Max reports at no additional charge to the advertiser.


About UnrulyEQ Max

Unruly’s unique testing solution, UnrulyEQ Max, provides marketers with a deep analysis of the predicted emotional, cultural and business impact of their ad campaigns.

As well as evaluating how sexist an ad is, the content testing solution provides brands and agencies with a breakdown of the intensity of emotions an ad generates among their target audiences, we well as key metrics such as brand recall, brand favorability, purchase intent, authenticity, relatability and credibility.


About Unruly

Unruly is the video marketplace you can trust to move people, not just reach people.

We help the world’s biggest advertisers engage global audiences by harnessing the power of our data-powered video marketplace, UnrulyX, on brand-safe, premium sites, while helping top publishers better monetise their audiences. Our superpower is emotional testing and targeting via UnrulyEQ, which leverages over a decade of video data and almost 2.2 million viewer reactions to videos to provide deep analysis of metrics that matter, enabling us to deliver better targeting and higher campaign ROI at scale.

Unruly was founded in 2006 with a mission to transform advertising for the better. We’re passionately committed to encouraging and celebrating diversity and wellbeing through our inclusive and nurturing company culture.

Unruly was acquired by News Corp (NASDAQ: NWS, NWSA; ASX: NWS, NWSLV) in 2015 and now has over 350 Unrulies doing amazing things across more than 20 locations worldwide.