Gender in Philippine advertisements: Portrayal patterns and platform differences immediately before the COVID-19 pandemic


Informed by the pioneering work of Erving Goffman, subsequent studies by Mee-Eun Kang, recent innovations in the Geena Davis Institute, and local approaches by Philippine scholars, this study sought to determine the portrayal of gender in Philippine advertising across various media. Specifically, it located gender across products, storylines, characters, pitch, and setting. It provided the baseline data for the depiction of gender immediately before the pandemic, and served as the benchmark against how gender may be portrayed differently in ads in the next normal.

The population of TV, print, and radio advertisements was based on a database maintained by Aries Insights and Media Solutions (AIMS), access to which was facilitated by Kantar Media. The study covered two TV stations, three broadsheets, two tabloids, two FM stations, and two AM stations. The researchers constructed two weeks from January – December 2018 for TV and print, while one week was constructed from October to December 2018 for radio.

Across platforms, the most advertised products were food and non-alcoholic beverages, pharmaceutical/health/herbal products, and restaurants, retail outlets, and malls. Ads focused on product/brand prestige, appealed to any of the five human senses, or concentrated on health. Certain ad pitches showed noticeable gendered differences. Women rather than men were associated with beauty, youth, and value for money. Print and radio ads featured more men than women, while TV featured more women than men.

The study found that while overt objectification was no longer prevalent in advertisements, stereotypically gendered portrayals remain in subtle forms across platforms.