New Research from Getty Images Shows that Visual Representation of Asian Communities in APAC Advertising Remains Stereotypical
Oct 25, 2023
- Getty Images’ research revealed most popular visuals for Australasia, Japan, Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan continue to rely heavily upon stereotypical, inauthentic imagery representing various communities.
- Despite Asia‑Pacific’s extensive span of cultures and demographics, there is limited diversity in imagery. Representation gaps range from disparities in depicting cultural specificities, to limited portrayals of Asian working life, among others.
- Getty Images today launched the “Inclusive Visual Storytelling for Asian Communities” report to support brands and businesses in APAC as they endeavor to be more inclusive in visual choices.
Singapore, October 26, 2023: Getty Images, a preeminent global visual content creator and marketplace, today launched “Inclusive Visual Storytelling for Asian Communities” report to help brands expand and deepen Asian narratives. This guidance is a result of Getty Images’ ongoing global research initiatives, revealing that visual representation of Asian communities in Asia‑Pacific (APAC) advertising remains stereotypical.
Powered by insights from Getty Images' VisualGPS research, the guidelines informed that less than 10% of most popular visuals downloaded for Australasia, Japan, Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan accurately represent Asian people and their lived experiences. Instead, most used imagery tends to lean heavily towards perpetuating common stereotypes: depicting Asians as youthful, slender, possessing lighter skin tones, and predominantly portrayed in work‑related contexts. Furthermore, popular visuals downloaded remain similar in their underlying messages, styling, and emotion: often overly happy, and with little to no connection to each culture.
According to these guidelines, 4 out of 5 consumers across APAC agree that simply increasing the representation of individuals from diverse ethnicities, backgrounds, and appearances within advertising and media is insufficient, stating that companies also need to do a better job at capturing people’s true lifestyles and cultures. Strikingly, 3 out of 5 also said to feel they have been discriminated against based on body size, lifestyle choices, race, ethnicity, gender identity, disability, and sexuality. These findings underscore the imperative for the media and advertising industry to not only recognize the intricate diversity and multidimensionality inherent in Asian cultures, but also to align with consumer expectations in delivering authentic and meaningful portrayals of Asian identities.
To provide a comprehensive guide to visual storytelling centered on Asian communities, Getty Images’ new guidance encompasses various aspects of their identities, passions, and lived experiences, such as age, body, culture, disability, gender, gender identity and sexual orientation, profession, race and ethnicity. By presenting a robust spectrum of perspectives, the guidelines supply media and advertising professionals with practical and applicable insights, serving as visual checkpoints and equipping them to enrich Asian visual narratives within their brand communications.
“Despite the region's diversity, everyday images and videos that aim to capture Asian experiences often fall short, perpetuating harmful stereotypes or missing the mark entirely. This misrepresentation and underrepresentation in TV shows, social media and advertising has led to significant gaps in consumers’ understanding of the region's realities,” said Yuri Endo, Creative Insights Manager at Getty Images. “By sharing these guidelines, the report takes a significant step towards helping brands serving APAC customers promote accurate and respectful portrayals of Asian communities, ultimately contributing to a more inclusive and equitable visual landscape.”
Some of the identified representation gaps made visible in the report that are specific to APAC include disparities in depicting cultural specificities, underrepresentation of older adults, a lack of diversity in gender representation, limited portrayals of Asian working life, a prevailing preference for Eurocentric beauty standards and body types, an absence of individuals with disabilities, among others.
Delving into the nuances of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I), the “Inclusive Visual Storytelling for Asian Communities” report, includes insights applicable across APAC, but also incorporates detailed insights into the local landscapes of Australia & New Zealand, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, and South Korea. Each country chapter provides local research about population demographics, imagery trends, underrepresented areas of diversity, and actionable strategies to combat stereotypes and promote inclusive representation.
To download these guidelines and learn more about how to expand and deepen Asian narratives, which in turn will cultivate stronger connections with audiences and reshape perceptions of Asian communities, please click here.