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This comprehensive report examines the representation of gender, race, age, and other demographic groups in 2019 Cannes Lions advertisements. It highlights the continuous gender disparity where male characters dominate in screen presence and speaking time. The findings also show an improved but still insufficient representation of racial minorities and other marginalized groups. These insights urge advertisers to adopt more inclusive practices to better reflect societal diversity and foster equality in media portrayals. Recommendations are provided to help industry professionals make impactful changes in their future advertising campaigns.

Key Findings

  • In 2019, female characters comprised only 38.6% of characters, which is a subtle increase from 2006, when they comprised 33.9% of characters. Male characters also had twice the screen and speaking time as female characters did. 
  • Characters of color comprised 38.0% of characters in 2019 ads, which is a significant improvement from 2006, when they comprised only 25.9% of characters. Additionally, characters of color received 46.4% of screen time in 2019.
  • Only 1.8% of characters were visually LGBTQIA+ characters in 2019 ads. 
  • Only 2.2% of characters were disabled in 2019 ads.
  • Only 7.0% of characters were ages 60 and older in 2019 ads.
  • Only 7.2% of characters were fat in 2019 ads.


  • Write and cast more female characters, sexualize them less, and show them as funny and having authority.  
  • Write characters of color as intelligent professionals.
  • Write and cast more LGBTQIA+ characters, and write them as professional and intelligent.
  • Write and cast more disabled characters.
  • Write and cast more characters ages 60 and older, and make sure their presence isn’t a punchline about age.
  • Prioritize better representations of fat characters since they were depicted in highly damaging ways in these ads. First, write and cast more fat characters. Second, make sure they aren’t being included in the ads as being lazy, stupid, or a punchline.