Redheads are not all too common, but people are suddenly seeing them more often on TV. Redheads are popping up everywhere in commercials during prime time, leaving blondes and brunettes without as much attention as usual. So what is with all of the redheads seemingly grabbing the spotlight in commercials all of the sudden?
According to NBC News, a new study has determined that 30 percent of network commercials feature at least one person who is a redhead. When ads without people were taken into consideration, redheads were featured in 33 percent of the ads. This finding does not correlate well with real life; natural redheads only make up 2 or 3 percent of the entire world population.
The Huffington Post first reported the study’s findings. The study was written by Janet Harris, a news analyst and president of Upstream Analysis.
Upstream Analysis paired with Critical mention to analyze five nights of television during prime time (8:00 to 10:59 pm). ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC were studied and more than 1,700 ads were scoured to see if redheads were present as a main character or any other role.
The study showed that 56 percent of commercials with redheads featured the redhead as a main character. The remaining 44 percent featured redheads as extras or other characters.
However, with everyone seeing red, the commercials actually represented a smaller portion of redheads. Out of 7,122 people acting in the commercials, only 761 people were redheads. That means that 11 percent of the actors were redheads, and perhaps not as overkill as it seems to be at first glance.
The study found that adult women were most likely to be redheads in the ads. Redheaded men made up only 7 percent of the total of all men featured in ads, while 14 percent of all of the women in the ads studied were redheads.
However, the opposite was apparent in child actors. Boys with red hair were more likely to be featured than girls with red hair. Thirteen percent of boys were redheaded, while 9 percent of girls had red hair.
Broken down by the four networks, CBS averaged showing one redhead every 106 seconds, according to The Huffington Post. Fox came in second place for the most redheads in ads, followed by NBC and ABC.
So what does all this mean, and why are so many redheads in commercials? According to Psychology Today, the color red may be associated with sexual attraction and may even raise the heart rate. The color red may stimulate a variety of intense emotions, including passion. Red may even make some people suddenly feel hungrier, which may be helpful to those commercials featuring fast food.
Redheads may also be a sort of novelty because they are not so naturally common. Andrew Rohm, professor of marketing at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, told NBC News that he agrees with the novelty influence of redheads.
“The first challenge that these companies have is breaking through the advertising clutter. The first job for a traditional 30- or 60-second commercial, because they are so fleeting, is to make us pay attention. That is where the redheads come in,” Rohm stated.
However, because people with red hair are increasingly shown on television, some researchers are calling on more research to see if people will actually become desensitized to redheads in the future. If this is the case, advertisers may have to back off their approach in using redheads to bait and trigger certain responses from their target audiences.