Unilever is looking to change the way women and men are portrayed in advertising through a new movement called "#unstereotype". According to Aline Santos, executive VP of global marketing for Unilever, #unstereotype is about men as well as women.
Unilever is also urging marketers globally to be aware of the outdated stereotypes of gender that advertising still propagates and the fact that progressive portrayals are proven to not only be better for society, but better for brands.
“Gender identity is changing. Our advertising has not changed enough – up until now. We've listened to consumers and looked at the way we portray gender in our advertising and realised we need to do things differently,” she said. Santos added that by using its influence responsibly,companies can contribute to positive cultural change as well as making better connections with people through advertising.
Unilever however adds that the most work needs to be done in the portrayal of women and this is in three core areas: roles, personality and appearance. Research from the company showed that making these three shifts can have a large impact on the effectiveness of advertising as well as on society’s perception of women.
“When it comes to appearance, we want to show women positively and uncritically. That means thinking harder about how we demonstrate beauty in a more diverse, positive, and in-perspective light,” she added.
While the initiative applies to all brands across Unilever, some are already further along the path than others. Knorr, for example, has embraced 'flavour equality' – showing through the #loveatfirsttaste campaign that food and cooking are pleasures everyone can enjoy, regardless of gender.
Axe / Lynx's Find Your Magic campaign, has been widely applauded by both consumers and the communications industry for moving away from rigid, stereotypical notions of masculinity to embrace the individuality of real men.
“We have validated through testing with Millward Brown that more progressive advertising generates stronger engagement, talkability and delivers better branded impact. This shows that not only is there an important societal imperative for this change but a business imperative as well; it’s an important journey that we must go on if we want to ensure we are truly maximising the potential of our creative outputs for today’s audiences,” Santos added.