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Study: Perceptions of sexism in Canadian advertising

Toronto-based Advertising Standards Canada has released a the results of a study called "Consumer Perspectives on Advertising 2016." The research for the study was conducted by The Gandalf Group and involved a survey of approximately 1,500 Canadians concerning their perceptions of advertising, with a particular focus on consumer perceptions of sexism in advertising.

According to the study, a majority of Canadians have a favourable impression of advertising and find it to be helpful and a source of at least some value. However, respondents also found negative, unfair or demeaning advertising to be almost universally unacceptable and would cause a majority to be "very" or "somewhat" likely to stop buying from a company using such advertising. Examples of unacceptable advertising cited by respondents include demeaning portrayals of people with disabilities, animal abuse, racism or bullying, even when intended as humour.

Forty-seven percent of respondents believe women are treated unfairly in advertising, while 31% believe the same about men. Sixty-three percent believe at least some Canadian advertising is sexist toward women, while 40% believe the same about men. Thirty-one percent of respondents place the responsibility for a sexist ad with the company, while 26% blame society in general and 25% blame advertising agencies. Sixty-seven percent of respondents stated they are less likely to buy a product from a company running a sexist ad.

"Canadian consumers continue to voice their displeasure with their wallets when ads are unacceptable to them," said Linda Nagel, president and CEO of Advertising Standards Canada. "As well, the fact that Canadians perceive that women are treated more unfairly than men in advertising should send a clear message to advertisers.

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