Unilever leads fights against stereotyping

Unilever, the owner of over 40 brands including Lynx and Dermalogica, has joined forces with UN Women to launch the Unstereotype Alliance – a global group that aims “to banish stereotypical portrayals of gender in advertising and all brand-led content”.

Members of the new alliance include AT&T, Alibaba, Facebook, Google, Johnson & Johnson, Mars, Mattel, Microsoft, P&G, Twitter and the World Federation of Advertisers.

Announcing the launch of the Unstereotype Alliance, UN Women executive director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said the alliance aims to affect positive cultural change by “using the power of advertising to help shape perceptions that reflect realistic, non-biased portrayals of women and men”.

She said UN Women is excited to partner with the foremost industry shapers to challenge and advance the ways women are represented in advertising.

“Stereotypes reflect deep-rooted ideas of femininity and masculinity,” she said.

“Negative, diminished conceptions of women and girls are one of the greatest barriers for gender equality and we need to tackle and change those images wherever they appear.”

Keith Weed, Unilver’s chief marketing and communications officer, said the multinational had “seen true progress in our industry but it doesn’t go far enough”.

“Our job isn’t done until we never see an ad that diminishes or limits the role of women and men in society. 

“We want to work with our peers across the industry to develop new ways of working, to share knowledge and approaches, so that we can scale the Unstereotype commitments.

“We believe cross-sector collaboration will lead to sustained transformation.

“This is no longer just a social imperative but a business one ‒ progressive ads have been found to be 25 per cent more effective and deliver better branded impact.”

UN Women, the premier global champion on gender equality, which is co-convening the Alliance, has a long track record in working on attitudinal change as a key driver for progress.

The launch of the Unstereotype Alliance follows Unilever’s launch of its Unstereotype initiative ‒ which set a global ambition for all its brands to advance advertising away from stereotypical portrayals of gender ‒ last year

Unilever’s executive vice president of global marketing, Aline Santos, said the new alliance is “a very important next step in the Unstereotype mission”.

“Every Alliance member has done extremely valuable work in this space and now it’s time to come together to drive impact at scale.

“Unstereotype should be the norm for all brands, not a differentiator for a select few.’’

Unilever is a Dutch-British transnational consumer goods company with over 400 brands including leading personal care brands such as Dermalogica, Murad, Dove, Pond’s, Tresemme, Simple, St Ives, Toni & Guy and Lynx.

The latter has attracted a lot of controversy in Australia and abroad for its ‘sexist’ ads.

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