Major global advertisers and manufacturers are joining forces in an attempt to ditch ‘sexist’ commercials, alleging they are ‘harmful’.
Under a scheme involving the United Nations group UN Women, some of the world’s biggest brands are to tackle apparent gender stereotyping, promising to put an end to any advertising that ‘diminishes or limits the role of women and men’.
The so-called ‘Unstereotype Alliance’ will be launched formally at the Cannes Lions festival of creativity tomorrow. It is backed by Unilever, which owns scores of common household products, plus advertising giant WPP, Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, Mattel, Diageo and tech companies Facebook, Microsoft and Google.
The companies claim that increasing numbers of their customers can ‘no longer identify’ with gender stereotyping and believe it is bad for society to continue selling products which some might find offensive.
The traditional role of women as mothers who do the cooking at home is one such ‘stereotype’ which looks as though it will be consigned to history – despite mothers still probably being responsible for most household chores.
There was controversy in London in 2015 over an ad for weight loss system which featured a photo of a woman with an impressive body in a bikini doing nothing more than staring at the camera with the slogan “Are You Beach Body Ready?” (pictured). It was eventually banned on London’s transportation system because it apparently contributed to body shaming. This, too, is the sort of commercial which advertisers want to stamp out.
A year ago Unilever released research which claimed that 40% of women do not recognize themselves in the adverts they see. In an analysis of ads across a range of countries and brands, it found that 50% of ads showed a negative or “not progressive” stereotype of women and only 3% showed clever or funny women.
Keith Weed, the global chief marketing officer of Unilever, said: ‘Our job isn’t done until we never see an ad that diminishes or limits the role of women and men in society.’