'Sex doesn't sell' - Marc Pritchard calls for brands to stamp out gender stereotypes

Lindsay Bennett
By Lindsay Bennett | 21 June 2018
Marc Pritchard

The idea that sex sells is a fallacy and negative portrayals of women in advertising won’t drive growth for brands, said P&G CMO Marc Pritchard.

Speaking at Cannes Lions, the top marketer said companies now have more responsibilities than government to take a stance against the gender pay gap and negative stereotypes.

He quoted a study from the ANA that found 29% of ads incorrectly represented women through stereotyping, objectification or diminished character.

“I don’t think sex sells. I think that it might be just the opposite,” he said.

“Our ads that paint women positively perform better. It’s really just common sense because when you see yourself and you see a positive portrayal it's far more appealing and makes you feel better about the brand. 

Pritchard’s comments follow the announcement earlier this week that P&G would be partnering with media and advertising companies to support women in creative roles.

“The areas we focus on are areas that matter to our people, our brands and our company. Gender equality is one example,” he said.

He said the gender pay gap is “outrageous” and quoted a McKinsey study that found if the gap was eradicated $28 trillion would be added to the economy. 

“Advertising that is more gender equal has a 10% increase in trust rating and a 26% increase in sales growth,” he said.

“What we have seen is our brands that have the most gender equal campaigns, tend to do better.”

Using the example of SK-II’s 2016 ad campaign, which saw Chinese women challenge the notion that being single was shameful, Pritchard said this work had purpose and grew the business by 18%.

In a similar example, when Olay switched up its positioning towards female empowerment, introducing the tagline ‘Live Fearlessly’, it saw a 10% lift in sales.

Pritchard also unpacked P&G's marketing revolution on stage at Cannes Lions. Read more here.

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