The Orange ad initially appears to pay homage to the talents of les Bleus (the nickname attached to the French men’s national football team). Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe’s display of skill is set to stirring, dramatic music, with increasingly excitable accompanying commentary.
But then the tone shifts: “Only les Bleaus can give us these emotions. But that’s not them you’ve just seen.”
The big reveal? The entire montage was a deepfake. The male players’ faces had been superimposed onto the bodies (and skill sets) of their female counterparts, Sakina Karchaoui and Delphine Cascarino.
The ad ends with a definitive statement of support for the women’s game: “At Orange, when we support les Bleus, we support les Bleues.”
But while the ad has garnered rave reviews, its success is built on a shared understanding of the disparity in attention and investment between the men’s and women’s games. A disparity evident in wider reporting, and evidenced through scientific research.
When Lionel Messi played at the World Cup final in Qatar in December, FIFA declared “Messi has played the most minutes in World Cup history.” Despite the fact that retired American captain Kristine Lilly played 2536 minutes in World Cup tournaments.
This tendency to overlook the achievements of women within the game was backed up by research from the University of Zurich, which found that when the gender of players is obscured, the quality of men’s and women’s football is rated similarly. However, once players’ gender was revealed, men’s games were rated significantly more highly.
While the Orange ad may have captured attention, it stands out because of the lack of female sporting representation within the advertising space. Less than 10% of global media focuses on women’s sports, and our analysis of 10,000+ ads supported by over $100M in ad spend underscores the disparity between male and female representation.
Men were featured in physical settings (doing sport, exercise etc.) twice as frequently as women across all ads from 2021-2022. Moreover, spend behind women featured in these settings fell 93% across 2021-2022.
Removed from sporting settings, women were relegated to the domestic sphere. In 2022, 54.5% of ads featuring women portrayed them in domestic or family settings, and the percentage of women featured in professional settings decreased 60% across 2021-2022.
This lack of representation is a huge missed opportunity for advertisers. The Women’s World Cup provides a perfect case in point for the increased interest in women’s sports as a whole, and better representation of women in advertising more broadly.
Organizers think that as many as two billion viewers could tune in to the Women’s World Cup this summer. The Women’s Euros in 2022 were watched by 365 million people globally. More than double the number of viewers compared to the previous installment.
On digital channels, interest in women’s sport is also growing. On YouTube, watch times for videos with “women’s football” in the title were up 75% year over year. Around the Women’s Euros, search interest in the football category for ‘female’ and ‘near’ increased in the UK.
Orange (along with Johnnie Walker, Budweiser and Weetabix) have embraced the advertising opportunity afforded by the Women’s World Cup. But advertisers are still missing out on year round opportunities to engage with consumers by improving the representation of, and spend behind, women engaging in sporting activities in ads.
More representative ads have been shown to deliver better results at the business, brand and ad level. But addressing advertising’s representation gap will first require an understanding of the current state of play.
Advances in technology have provided a route towards tracking progress on this issue. CreativeX’s technology extracts creative data out of images and videos, providing a way to measure creative decisions at scale. This includes decisions about casting choices connected to sex, skin tone and age, as well as how the types of situations people are cast in vary.
This data can be used to provide a starting point for improvement, without which there cannot be a push for meaningful improvement. Creative data is the technology-powered measurement system that can facilitate change, instill accountability, and highlight important moments of achievement, both on the pitch and off.
CreativeX’s AI technology was used to analyze 10,885 ads featuring over 20,000 people from leading CPG, Food and Beverage, Healthcare, and Alcohol brands, supported by over $110 million in ad spend over 2021 and 2022.