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Close to three quarters of UK marketers have been compelled to alter their approach to stock image selection in the wake of new ASA rules governing gender stereotyping.

A survey commissioned by content provider Shutterstock found that 74% of marketers now make use of more diverse imagery in their campaign material, a significant improvement on the 57% figure recorded in 2017.

The rapid acceptance of diversity is reflected in the fact that 60% of marketers now agree that gender is of less importance when targeting ad campaigns although 51% worry that gender-neutral advertising could negatively impact their returns.

Such has been the shift in sentiment that UK marketers now lead their colleagues elsewhere by depicting non-professional models or people identifying as gender-fluid, non-binary and androgynous in their campaigns.

Lou Weiss, Shutterstock’s chief marketing officer, commented: “The research shows that while Generation X understands the value of featuring diverse people in their campaigns, they are less likely to follow through on this compared to Generation Z and Millennial marketers. This year’s research illustrates not only the stark generational differences among marketers as they chose imagery for their campaigns, but also the various motivations behind these image choices and how they differed by country.

“There is clearly a shift occurring in our industry as the next generation of marketers find their footing and visualize their beliefs related to the diversity of race, gender and abilities in the marketing campaigns they’re creating.”

Over 2,500 marketers in Brazil, Australia, Germany, the US and UK were polled by Censuswide in October to inform the study.