Mars Releases Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media Findings on Gender Representation in Advertising at Cannes Lions Festival

One of the world’s top advertisers finds we all have more work to do to reflect the diversity of consumers in marketing and advertising

MCLEAN, VA—June 18, 2019— Mars, Incorporated today announced initial findings from research commissioned with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media at Mount Saint Mary's University (the Institute) at the 2019 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. 

Speaking during the Institute’s Panel, Mars representative and Chief Category Officer for Mars Wrigley Berta De Pablos said: “As one of the world’s most awarded advertisers, Mars has a responsibility to shape the world we want tomorrow. We believe the best advertisements are about more than just great creative. The best ads take on the responsibility to accurately reflect society. We hope that by releasing some of our findings from the Institute we can encourage the larger industry to prioritize the equitable inclusion and representation of women.”
The research leveraged the Institute’s proprietary GD-IQ (Geena Davis Inclusion Quotient) machine learning tool to analyze more than 200 Mars global television adverts across various Chocolate, Gum, Fruity Confections, Petcare and Food brands. As part of the research methodology, the Institute utilized GD-IQ along with ‘hand-coding’ techniques to identify more than 300 prominent characters that were further analyzed. While Mars is shown as better than the industry baseline*, the findings revealed deficiencies related to gender representation.

The Institute research found that within Mars advertising:

  • Ratio of 3:2 of number of men vs women 
  • Men are nearly twice as likely to be shown working than women
  • 22% of male characters are shown as leaders vs 17% of female characters
  • More male then female characters are depicted with an occupation – 26% vs 11%, respectively 

Madeline Di Nonno, CEO, Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, added: “We are proud to partner with Mars, a company that has iconic brands and global scale, in taking proactive and progressive actions to examine gender representation in their ads and also for sharing these findings at Cannes Lion. Data has always been the key to inspire dialogue and motivate systemic change across the industry as we recognize the need to achieve equal and positive gender representation in advertising and media.”  

By working with agency partners, the Institute, and the UN’s Unstereotype Alliance, Mars will begin approaching its advertising with a new lens and deeper commitment to close the gap on gender representation and stereotyping in their marketing and advertising.

*The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media research benchmarked Mars’ performance against Cannes-winning campaigns from 2006 – 2016.


About Mars, Incorporated
Mars is a family-owned business with more than a century of history making diverse products and offering services for people and the pets people love. With more than $35 billion in sales, the company is a global business that produces some of the world’s best-loved brands: M&M’s®, SNICKERS®, TWIX®, MILKY WAY®, DOVE®, PEDIGREE®, ROYAL CANIN®, WHISKAS®, EXTRA®, ORBIT®, 5™, SKITTLES®, UNCLE BEN’S®, and COCOAVIA®. Mars Associates proudly take care of half of the world’s pets through our nutrition, health and services businesses such as Banfield Pet Hospitals™, BluePearl®, Linnaeus, AniCura, VCA™ and Pet Partners™.  Headquartered in McLean, VA, Mars operates in more than 80 countries. The Mars Five Principles – Quality, Responsibility, Mutuality, Efficiency and Freedom – inspire our more than 125,000 Associates to take action every day to help create a world tomorrow in which the planet, its people and pets can thrive. 

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About The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media at Mount Saint Mary’s University
Founded by Academy-Award® winning actor and advocate Geena Davis in 2004, The Institute is the first and only research-based organization working within the media and entertainment industry to engage, educate, and influence content creators, marketers and audiences about the importance of eliminating unconscious bias, highlighting gender balance, challenging stereotypes, creating role models and scripting a wide variety of strong female characters in entertainment and media that targets and influences children ages 11 and under. The Institute is also the only organization employing the GD-IQ tool to create systemic change in entertainment media content creation. 

Mars, Incorporated
Kristen Kinkella