Only 7.4% of commercials feature black women in lead role, research reveals
It’s basically the rule in any segment of Brazilian society. If there appears that the presence of black people is increasing in whatever the segment, it’s mostly because they have always been more or less invisible, which makes any increase in representation noticeable. This newest study of Brazilian advertising confirms this once again.
According to the latest data, black women star in only 7.4 percent of television commercials — excluding those starring the product or society in a more abstract manner. The data is from the research Todxs, by the agency Heads agency, obtained exclusively by Folha de São Paulo, Brazil’s largest newspaper.
When only the commercials with women in the leading roles were considered, 70% of the leads were represented by white women, with only 17% black and 13% representing different racial groups.
Considering the percentage of black women, it must also be pointed out that black men also appear less than white men. Only 22% of advertisements featuring men in leading roles had black men as protagonists.
The study analyzed 2,999 commercials broadcast on the Globo and Megapix TV networks during the week starting February 22 and ending on February 28 of this year. According to the research, racial diversity increases to 81% when there are several people and both genders represented.
In an interview with Folha de São Paulo, publicist and coordinator of the study, Isabel Aquino, who declares herself parda, meaning brown or mixed, commented on why she thinks there is an absence of blacks in commercials that appear on out TV screens: “When there are many people on the scene, the brand feels more comfortable to place diversity, it’s kind of logical. It’s that fast food commercial that has a lot of people biting their sandwich.”
She says that blacks often appear as supporting or sharing the protagonism with whites. “Advertising is still very racist.” Hmm, you don’t say. Isabel continued that, although the cosmetics and beauty sector incorporated diversity, 55% of the commercials analyzed didn’t feature black people. Is there any wonder why a similar study conducted just two years ago revealed that 76% of Brazilians said that advertisements should better represent the diversity of the Brazilian population?
Among the segments that almost ignore blacks are websites and applications, financial services and automobiles. “The auto industry, for example, doesn’t put on a lot of women and is silent about blacks,” says Isabel.
In some ways, we can understand the way that blacks continue to be viewed in the society as a whole. When the society that consumes and is so influenced by the images presented on television doesn’t see black people driving fancy cars, when one does see a black person driving an expensive car, police automatically will assume the car must be stolen. And when police approach or pursue blacks in their neighborhoods and in the streets, the results often times aren’t good. It may sound like a stretch making this connection….but is it really?