Quickly getting old: Diversity Study featured in Museum exhibition

Usually museum exhibitions have one thing in common: they show things from the past and hence talking about recent or distant history. The concept of Diversity & Inclusion is certainly not ‘old enough’ to be placed in a museum. Yet, starting from October 2nd 2015, results of a diversity media study forms part of an advertising exhibition. The Museum for Communication, Frankfurt / Main, shows over 50 campaigns under the headline ‘Touched – Tempted’ and discusses many diversity aspects in that context.

What are the themes marketers are using to attract consumers to a product or service? And how does this relate to individual differences such as gender, age or lifestyle? These might been guiding questions for the curator when designing the current exhibition ‘Touched – Tempted: Advertisement Campaigns that Made History’. It aims at revealing the impact of advertisement in the time period after World War II and today.

The exhibition asks why some advertising campaigns are successful enough to stay imprinted in our minds while others just get almost no attention at all. According to the exhibitor, advertising not only reflects the spirit of a time but also shapes it. Over 50 campaigns mostly from the Federal Republic of Germany (aka West-Germany) and some from the GDR were chosen to depict the mutual influences of society, politics, the arts and advertising.

One part includes outcomes of marketing research. There, results of a study carried out by European Diversity Research & Consulting in 2007 are integrated. Back then, the researchers analysed 686 advertisements in high-circulation German printed media with regard to the quantitative and qualitative appearance of difference. Although modern gender roles were found to a certain degree, traditional roles still dominated the ads. For example, in commercials with women, they were presented as housewives or mothers in 36%. Men were usually shown as breadwinners (46%) or business men (32%). However, a positive trend was also found: after all 24% of the women in commercials was illustrated as employed, and 28% of the men provided a modern male image. Unfortunately, ethnic minorities, elderly people and LGBT aspects were significantly underrepresented in the ads compared to their proportion in the market at large.

Those and other insights into media and its impact can still be seen until August 2016 in Frankfurt.