Note from BW of Brazil: So what else is new? In nearly every area of importance that one studies in Brazil, it is dominated by persons with white skin and European features (1). For some who don’t live in Brazil, this may seem to be an exaggeration but numerous visitors to Brazil have commented on what we call the ‘ditadura de brancura‘ (dictatorship of whiteness). In reality, Brazilians themselves are also quick to outright deny this, downplay it or try to dismiss this reality as ‘vitimismo’ (playing the victim). But seriously, with study after study confirming Brazil’s obsession with portraying itself as a European nation, at what point does denial become consciousness of the fact with no desire to admit the truth? With this in mind, it’s refreshing to see the rise of independent You Tube productions and blogs as black Brazilians continue to find creative ways to make their presence felt and bring a bit a more balanced racial representation of the array of phenotypes that one sees in everyday Brazil.
In Brazilian advertising, more than 90% of the protagonists continue to be white
Study shows that advertising reproduces old concepts of gender and race in the country
By Fernando Scheller
A country with more than 90% of the population consisting of whites, in which women are dedicated mainly to taking the care of home and beauty. This is the portrait of Brazil in advertising broadcast on television, according to a survey by the Brazilian agency Heads, with the help of UN Women. The aim of the joint initiative is to combat stereotyping in advertising and the media.
Coming to the conclusion that social simplifications continue to set the tone of advertising in the country, between January 25 to 31 Heads monitored more than 2,300 insertions of 30 seconds shown in commercial breaks of two TV stations: TV Globo and Megapix (movie channel included in basic packages of pay-TV companies).
This is the second survey of its kind headed by Heads in less than a year. The first edition, held in mid-2015 showed that the situation was troublesome. According to Carla Alzamora, Heads planning director and one of those responsible for the survey, the situation worsened in the round made in early 2016. It was clear: when summer comes, stereotypes – particularly gender – become even stronger.
The team from Heads found that 36% of the commercials displayed showed some gender stereotype – mainly affecting women, but also men – against 28% of the previous measurement. “This is clear especially in relation to the activities performed in the commercials,” says Carla. The survey showed that 100% of advertisements for shoes and baby care reinforce ideas long established on women’s position in society. The same occurs with segments such as beauty products (in 77% of cases) and cleaning items (82% of the inserts).
In reference to the results of the survey, Heads came to the conclusion that the whole discussion about “empowering” women that took hold in media in 2015 had no effect on advertising.
If the question of gender is troublesome, racial stereotypes are also transparent in the study. “There is a clear sense in the market that the black family only communicates with blacks, while whites can speak for everyone,” said Heads’ planning director.
Among men who star in TV commercials, 93% are white. In the case of women, the overwhelming majority of advertising protagonists is white, while a small portion of the characters fitting into the category “diverse” (with people from different racial backgrounds interacting) and only 1% show only black women in the foreground. When the protagonists are children or couples, the presence of pretos (blacks) and pardos (browns) grows, but without exceeding the 24% mark.
Beyond the standards
The Executive of Heads states, however, that the nature of advertising activity is sometimes a breeding ground for stereotypes and simplifications. “After all, it’s hard to tell a complete story in 30 seconds.” However, she notes that there are commercials that dare try to change that – the case of the O Boticário campaign for Valentine’s Day 2015, which showed gay couples and personalities of different races (2).
The president of the Brazilian Association of Advertising Agencies (Abap), Orlando Marques, told Estado that the entity didn’t address the issue of diversity to date. He said, however, that he has received requests to touch on the subject – something that the organization must do soon.
- We’ve already confirmed this in advertising in various articles including here, here, and here.
- What was intriguing about various 2015 Dia dos Namorados ads was the fact that it did in fact show all sorts of couples with the exception of a black man/black woman couple. In fact, one ad for the holiday featured a diverse array of couples in romantic settings but many noticed that the black woman’s partner was a mannequin!