Generally speaking, Canadians are proud to think of our country as diverse, open and inclusive. But when it comes to selling us something, advertisers mostly trust white people to do the job.
That’s according to a new study from the University of Toronto, which found an “entrenched” bias when it came to depictions of race in television commercials.
The study, which appears in this month’s Canadian Review of Sociology, analyzed commercials that aired in prime time on CBC, Global and CTV. Researchers looked at 244 commercials, all of which focused on food and dining so that the ads were comparable with each other.
It found that 87 per cent of characters in commercials were white, compared with their representation in the Canadian population (80 per cent as per the 2006 census).
Furthermore, where ethnic minorities were included, the researchers found that they were represented much more narrowly, and stereotypically. By contrast, representations of white people allow for all kinds of characters, and frequent depictions of privilege.