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Redheads make up a very small percent of the U.S. population, and yet, a study shows that people with red hair are showing up very frequently in TV ads. There's some interesting speculation as to why we might be seeing more redheads in TV ads than we might in real life... unless you're in the vicinity of the Weasley family, of course.
Advertising could be seen as an art form and a science. A good TV ad requires more than just a catchy jingle, a funny joke or a recognizable face or voice to sell a product. Creating an effective ad surely requires knowing the audience and understanding how they respond to certain things. Do people respond more positively toward redheads than they might to people with blonde, brown or black hair? Based on a study conducted by Upstream Analysis, as reported by THR, that may be the case, as their findings reveal that more than 33 percent of network TV commercials that feature people that air during peak viewing time include someone with red hair. That's excluding ads that don't include any people on screen, and also excluding animals or non-human characters with red hair like Muppets.
The study notes that adult women with red hair showed up twice as frequently as men, and that redheaded boys outnumbered redheaded girls. As for which network showed the most redheads in commercials, CBS wins out there, followed by ABC, Fox and NBC.
With just 2-6 percent of the U.S. population having naturally red hair, it's definitely worth noting that the hair color seems much more popular in television ads. But why? THR says the explanations vary. One of them notes that the color red causes a physical response in people, stimulating appetite and associations with "intense emotions and sexual attraction." Another theory centers on the novelty of redheads, perhaps because they're so rare in our population. The sight of a person with red hair may "motivate the brain to explore, seeking a reward." That one seems like a stretch, but who knows? Maybe there's some truth to it, which would make it an effective tool for motivating people to try a new product or retain positive associations with a brand based on the commercial. Or maybe redheads just look really good on TV. It's all a lot of speculation.
Does anyone else feel certain they're going to start noticing every person with red hair that shows up in a commercial now? I actually did a bit of random spot checking over at Youtube, searching for specific brands (Old Navy, Progressive, State Farm) and didn't notice all that many redheads, but perhaps it seems more evident when we see the ads air on TV one after the other. Or maybe it's specific ad producers and brands that are including more redheaded people in their ads. We can only speculate.