More than half of Brits think TV ads ignore the poor, new study shows

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When was the last time you watched a TV advert that positively portrayed the poor? Or, for that matter, a TV show that didn't adopt a mocking, condescending and derogatory way approach to the less well off?

Extremely popular television shows like Little Britain and Shameless all portray the working class in a less than flattering light, it could be argued.

But a study released by media agency UM hopes to challenge this overwhelmingly negative portrayal.

Researchers interviewed 2,000 British adults and discovered that six out of ten (62 per cent) think that TV ads all too often only portray wealthy homes, while two thirds (63 per cent) think that the poor are negatively stereotyped in advertising.

The study also revealed that 41 per cent of those from more deprived socio-economic groups felt that their social backgrounds are often stereotyped, mocked, and caricatured.

More worryingly, the research also concluded that the portrayal of the poor in advertising has become more negative in the last three years, despite the fact that due to recent moves by the Advertising Standards Authority, many brands have taken a stand against gender and sexuality-based stereotyping.

Michael Brown, head of insight at UM, comments:

We keep being told that successful advertising is all about authenticity, yet poorer Britons feel caricatured – if and when they appear in advertising at all. Like many other supposedly ‘less attractive’ groups and demographics, they probably suspect ad land is ignoring them.

This industry needs to take the lead in challenging all the negative representations that are still so prevalent and dangerous. The ad industry might have been built on aspiration, but that doesn’t mean people with less spending power have none at all.

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