#FairnessFirst: All you need to know to #unstereotype advertising

The Unstereotype Alliance launched at Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity last year and has just joined Twitter. The World Federation of Advertisers has also released a guide that makes the social and business case for 'unstereotyping' ads. Here's why you need to download, absorb and implement it, now!

The topic of unsterotyping advertising and using lazy gender troped keeps popping up where creativity is celebrated, but it's sadly not mainstream just yet. Perhaps the fact that the Unsterotype Alliance has finally joined Twitter will sway the movement over social media.

Global brand Unilever popularised the hashtag in 2016 and it was the focus of a special report during the 2017 Cannes Lions, where the yellow ‘Unsterotype Alliance flag flew high, with AdAge reporting that, “The UN believes ads can turn the tide in long-losing war for gender equality.”
Removing stereotypes in advertising - Unilever launches #unstereotype

To remove the stereotypes in advertising, Unilever announced at Cannes #unstereotype, its global ambition for all of its brands and the industry at large to advance advertising away from stereotypical portrayals of gender...

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AdAge explained that the UN Women was effectively convening a ‘Security Council of the ad industry’, when the Unstereotype Alliance programme kicked off in Cannes, with the idea that advertising can “do what more than two decades of UN proclamations, local laws and good intentions haven't -- spur real progress on gender issues.” SA’s own Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of UN Women, added:
No country in the world has achieved gender equality, even though we have big initiatives and laws passed… Changing laws didn't do much to change cultural norms. Advertising has skill in behaviour change.
With support from other global brands, including Procter & Gamble, Mars, Diageo, Johnson & Johnson and Mattel, Aline Santos, senior VP marketing at Unilever, said at the time that having “left all Axe's lad humour behind,” they’ve since found that ads without stereotypes have considerably better results.

It's also been a hot topic locally, at the Loeries Festival of Creativity, when FCB global CCO Susan Credle interviewed Debra Mallowah, VP of personal care at Unilever Africa, for our readers.

Mallowah proved to be one of the year’s most popular DStv Seminar of Creativity’s speakers, "drawing cheers and even tears," when sharing the brand’s message that the move to #Unstereotype advertising is good for brands and consumers alike.

Women in advertising - Debra Mallowah

Susan Credle, global chief creative officer at FCB, spoke to women in advertising during the DStv Seminar of Creativity. In this episode she speaks to Debra Mallowah, VP personal care at Unilever Africa... (video)

1 Sep 2016

#Loeries2016: #Unstereotype advertising: good for people, good for brands

The DStv Seminar of Creativity is a highlight of the Loeries Creative Week for many, jam-packed with innovation-boosting talks by industry leaders...

By Lauren Hartzenberg 20 Aug 2016

Editor Lauren Hartzenberg reported at the time:
[Mallowah's] assertion was that advertising is the business of shaping perceptions, so when advertisers perpetuate gender stereotypes, they’re holding society back.
And the message didn’t end there.

#Unstereotype the workplace, unstereotype ads

Unilever remains one of the most vocal brands on the topic, having gone on to urge world leaders to unstereotype the workplace and recognise that “stereotypes, social norms and unconscious bias are contributing to the ever-widening gender gap,” following their commissioned research into the importance of ‘The Unstereotyped Mindset’.

Now, making the message easier to absorb in 2018, Unstereotype Alliance founding member the World Federation of Advertisers has released a downloadable guide that includes real-life case studies and actionable tips to take the movement forward.

The guide covers typical sterotypes that exist for both men and women in advertising, with clear steps to start unstereotyping your workplace and make the mindshift, in order to start thinking differently in your advertising and marketing massaging, and ensure more progressive gender portrayals.

Unilever's chief marketing and communications officer Keith Weed commented on the launch of the WFA’s guide:
We’ve started to see real progress,s but it doesn’t yet go far enough or wide enough. Our job won’t be done as long as ads still diminish or limit the role of women and men in society.
Mlambo-Ngcuka, adds:
We know that harmful stereotypes of both women and men have a deep impact on how we see and treat each other. Intentionally changing those images has huge potential to positively transform our culture and bring us closer to true, inclusive equality… This change will help us to collectively realise the promise of the Sustainable Development Goals – to leave no one behind.
And yes, this is only this first step…

Click here to download the WFA launches Guide to Progressive Gender Portrayals in Advertising.

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About Leigh Andrews

Leigh Andrews (@leigh_andrews) is Editor-in-Chief: Marketing & Media at Bizcommunity.com and one of our Lifestyle contributors. She's also on the 2018 Women in Marketing: Africa advisory panel, was an #Inspiring50 nominee, and can be reached at ...
Litha Gogela
First thing that needs to happen, especially in a country like South Africa, is the diversifying of media, marketing and advertising space. We need diversity along race, background, gender, orientation etc. There needs to be a concerted effort on all fronts to bring this about.
Posted on 12 Jun 2018 10:32