Dr. Ben Barry | Women’s Ads
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This research explored the responses of women to models of diverse shapes, ages and races and to different promotional copy strategies in fashion advertising. The project was funded from grants from the Ogilvy Foundation and Cambridge University. Below are a few articles I have written on the project:

Diversity in fashion advertising does sell
Business of Fashion
October 11, 2015


Selling Whose Dream?
Fashion, Style & Popular Culture
(Special issue on fashion and social responsibility)

2013, 1(2), pp. 175-192

Scholars and practitioners assume that women aspire to fashion photographs of idealized models. It is unknown, however, what makes a fashion image aspirational because previous researchers have not explored the various dimensions that evoke this concept. In this article, I share the development of a taxonomy that explains the evaluative criteria and image elements that elicit aspiration in fashion photographs based on data gathered in focus groups with 100 women. Findings reveal that women aspire to a fashion image according to their evaluations that it is honest, empowering and socially responsible. The models, creative direction and visual cues in the image trigger these three aspirational criteria. My research contributes the first taxonomy of aspiration in fashion photographs and to the enhancement of knowledge about consumer engagement with images. Industry professionals are encouraged to incorporate promotional photographs into their corporate social responsibility agenda and produce imagery that represents women’s diverse beauty and character alongside glamour and artistry.


New Business Model
Elle Canada
2012, June, pp. 108-114


Does my bottom line look big in this?
Strategic Direction
29(1), pp. 3-5

This paper discerns key fashion and beauty advertising strategies pertaining to model selection in order to best attract North American and Chinese women.

Recommendations are based on survey and focus group research of over 3,500 Canadian, Chinese and American women between the ages of 14 and 65. Advertisers targeting North American women are advised to cast models who mirror the size, age and race traits of their target market. Conversely, advertisers targeting younger Chinese women are suggested to hire idealized Western models, whereas those targeting older women are advised to hire thin Chinese models. Exceptions and emerging trends are also discussed and subsequent management recommendations are made. This paper provides the first comprehensive managerial guidelines for model casting in fashion and beauty advertising that targets North American and Chinese women.