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Unilever SVP Global Marketing: inside the Unstereotype campaign

Jack Hershman

Unilever announced its global ambition for all of its brands to shift advertising away from stereotypical portrayals of gender. Here's how it plans to do it.

3% of Women are clever and just 0.03% are funny. These are some of the figures reported from an enormous anthropological study carried out by Unilever that analyzed over 1000 adverts. The aim was to better understand gender stereotypes in advertising. And the results are stark. Catalyzing the world’s second biggest advertiser, who spends £6.3bn a year on more than 400 brands including Dove, Lynx, and Persil, to state vehemently that it will do everything it can to eradicate gender stereotypes in its and the rest of industry’s advertising.

Aline Santos, SVP Global Marketing at the FMCG brand is leading the charge, known as the #Unstereotype campaign, and said: “We wanted to create a campaign that starts at Unilever, but engages as many people as we possibly can.”

“We believe that this is going to be good for the world of advertising, the world of marketing, the world of brands. We are talking about unstereotyping people. Not just women.”

A number of agencies have pledged their allegiance to the campaign: BBH, JWT, 72 and Sunny, DDB, MullenLowe, and Ogilvy thus far, with Unilever expecting more of its agency partners to follow suit.

The plan was unveiled at the 2016 Cannes Lions Festival, where Unilever presented a three-pronged strategy to reduce gender stereotypes in advertising.

Santos said there are three different buckets.

The first “is the role that the main character is playing. If it is a woman, we don’t want to portray that woman in a very minimized role. We want that role to be more enriched. Not just a housewife, maid or mother, because women have many different facets.”

The second is appearance. Unilever doesn’t want to see advertising conform to traditional paradigms of beauty, but instead, “open up those stereotypes to any type of beauty, diversity or style,” something that started with Dove’s Beauty Theory campaign in 2002.

Finally, says Santos, Unilever will focus on the personality portrayed in its advertising.

To hear more on how Unilever plan to combat gender stereotypes in advertising, watch the full video above.

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