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Progress seen in gender portrayals in Vietnam ads, but more work needed

News Stories /03 August 2022

Advertising campaigns in Vietnam during Lunar New Year (Tet) celebrations in 2022 indicate positive shifts in gender portrayals, but they still fall short in challenging stereotypes that limit the equal sharing of caring and economic roles between women and men, a new report supported by Investing in Women showed.

CARE International in Vietnam and their partner Tuva Communications published an analysis of gender and diversity across 45 popular commercials launched in Vietnam during Lunar New Year 2022.

Of the ads analysed for the report, 71% were found to be in the gender-neutral to gender-sensitive range. The remaining 29% fell within the gender-bias or gender-harmful range. The analysis was produced using an artificial intelligence tool that CARE and Tuva have developed to support the advertising industry’s self-regulation and monitoring of gender sensitivity in brand campaigns.

The Tet holidays in Vietnam is a period of high advertising spending among brands. Typically, when Tet ads portray family gatherings, women were shown mostly in the kitchen and managing all the Tet activities for the household. But for 2022, ads showing women and men both enjoying their free time and relaxing together were common, challenging the stereotypical images of women occupied with household chores at Tet.

Across the Tet ads analysed, women tend to be featured in prominent and multi-dimensional ways within and outside of family settings. Both women and men were shown to be at work, and the number of female characters in the office setting was slightly higher than that of men. Women were often portrayed as office staff in similar positions as their male colleagues and in one case the leader of the accounting department.

Men also appeared in multi-dimensional and non-stereotypical roles including cooking, doing household chores, and taking care of the elderly in the family, together with women. Further, none of the ads during Tet reinforced toxic forms of masculinities. The report noted this as an indication that brands are increasingly open to challenging the prevailing notion in Vietnam that men are the primary income earners and women the primary carers.

More work still needed

Despite improvements in gender portrayals, the report pointed to skewed representation that can reinforce stereotypes. Men were twice as likely to be shown as experts or leaders than women. For instance, when both female and male characters appear as experts, male experts tend to be featured in focus.

While the numbers of women and men portrayed working were not significantly different, women were more likely to be featured working from home while juggling with the burden of care work and the mental load of running a household. Out of four ads featuring women as the only characters working, three showed women with their laptop open in the kitchen.

The number of ads in which women are featured taking care of children was significantly higher than that of men, especially in the food, hygiene and cleaning product categories. Men were however shown taking care of the elderly in the family.

There are more scenes with men in the living room compared to women. When men are present in the kitchen, ads tend to show them supporting women rather than leading on the tasks.

The report was developed and published under Goodvertisings, a CARE and Tuva campaign that advocates for advertisements to both reflect and influence the change in gender attitudes and perceptions among consumers. CARE and Tuva aim to use the report to initiate discourse with the marketing and advertising industry on how to improve gender portrayals in brand campaigns.


Download the full report here to learn more.

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