Unilever has considently won awards and taken over my Facebook timeline with advertisements like the one above for Dove, in which women are forced to confront the low self-esteem embedded in their psyches by advertisements.
The success of Dove and their own market research has inspired Unilever to declare its future campaigns “stereotype free.” In a global ad study conducted by the company, they discovered that 40 percent of women don’t see themselves represented in advertisements. The Guardian reports more depressing statistics:
...Women are rarely presented as having authority – just 3% of ads feature women in managerial, leadership or professional roles – and are “disproportionately” represented in domestic roles.
The ad industry appears to believe that the life of a woman is dour in the extreme, with just 1% of the ads surveyed showing women being funny.
Unilever is the world’s second-biggest advertiser, so any implemented strategy could allegedly have a huge effect on the five seconds of a YouTube ad you watch before clicking “skip.” In addition to Dove, they own Axe body spray and Sunsilk. Axe may have produced some of the most sexist ads any of us have ever seen, so any changes away from that are good.
The main reason the company is taking the results of its study seriously is basically, “2016.”
“The time is right for us as an industry to challenge and change how we portray gender in our advertising,” said Unilever chief marketing officer, Keith Weed. “Our industry spends billions of dollars annually shaping perceptions and we have a responsibility to use this power in a positive manner.”
“It was globally resounding that women are ever advancing in terms of equality, structure and human rights,” said Unilever. “Yet the media and advertising specifically have been slow to reflect the changing shape of gender identity and often depict, at best, a current view of society, and sometimes a backward view.”
Sure, take all my money.