Launched at Cannes Lions in June 2017, Unilever unveiled the Unstereotype Alliance, a global initiative led by Unilever and UN Women to smash out stereotype portrayals of gender in all advertising and brand-led content. A few of the founding members include industry leaders such as Alibaba, Mars, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Mattel and J&J. A complete list of the founding members can be found here.
Following a study by Unilever, 40% of women reported they did not relate to all women they saw in ads. At the same time, Unilever research showed that progressive ads are 25% more effective and deliver better branded impact.
We recognized five campaigns that have removed the stereotype, promoted gender equality and used the power of their voice to provoke self-awareness and reflection.
- Lululemon, “Strength to Be”
Lululemon knocked it out of the park with their recent campaign targeting men with a progressive view of what “masculinity” means. Through a stylized depiction of notable men voicing their philosophies on masculinity and showcasing their strength and mindfulness through their preferred practise, the brand challenges male stereotypes with finesse. As a brand who has traditionally associated with the female audience, the brand has created a strong progressive stance eliminating masculine ideals, which as a result has built strong connections with consumers.
- L’Oreal, Cover Girl “#LashEquality”
Covergirl released a stunning commercial for a new mascara in 2016 that not only challenged the gender stereotype but celebrated equality across race, religion and gender. Covergirl calls it “Lash Equality” and spreading the message that mascara isn’t made exclusively for women. The campaign featured high-profile brand ambassadors such as Katy Perry, the first ever Coverboy, James Charles and Muslim beauty blogger Nura Afia and staked an incredible message in the cosmetics industry.
- Unilever, Axe “Find Your Magic”
Unilever took a stand to combat a seemingly deeply rooted stereotype associated to men using Axe body products due to the past advertisements by Axe that have sexualized women and defined standards of masculinity for men. But the “Find Your Magic” campaign caught viewers with surprise as it magically and eloquently encouraged men to find that thing that makes you(men) unique & confident. The ad moved past empowering men and even sparked the interests of women; a woman commented on the ad’s Youtube page, “this was so progressive and body-positive that even as a woman I felt it.”
- Mattel, Barbie “Dads Who Play Barbie”
For the last several years, Mattel has moved towards modernizing the Barbie brand with a focus on female empowerment, removing the idealistic perceptions of women for young girls. With the success of the “Imagine the Possibilities” campaign, which encouraged girls to be whoever they want to be, Barbie came out this year with the “Dads Who Play Barbie” video. The brand connected with dads who play with their daughters through a humorous and candid video showcasing the power of the father/daughter relationship. Mattel crushed the stereotype that it is feminine for men to play Barbie with their daughters, and Barbie cited research for this campaign showing that girls who have loving, communicative, supportive relationships with their fathers from early childhood are less likely to suffer from a lack of self-confidence and self-reliance as they grow up.
These campaigns show the power of what is possible with brands, using the power of their voice through ad campaigns to empower all genders, smash stereotypes and move towards a more inclusive, unbiased culture and we hope a lot more brands join the Unstereotype Alliance.