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Act 2 Unstereotype makes end-to-end inclusive marketing a priority

New research shows almost one in two people from marginalised communities feel stereotyped by advertising and urges industry to rebuild, better. Our answer is Act 2 Unstereotype, a commitment to systemic change and making end-to-end inclusive marketing a priority.

The advertising industry used to make history. If it doesn’t listen to consumers and enact systemic change, it may become history.

According to new research findings from Kantar, people are increasingly disconnected from advertising, with less than one in five believing that ads are representative of wider society.

The findings of the study, commissioned by Unilever, were also significant regarding advertising’s impact on young people and marginalised communities. Some 71% of those surveyed believe stereotypes in media are harming the younger generation, while nearly one in two people from marginalised communities, including Black, Hispanic, Asian, LGBTQ+ and people with disabilities, feel they have been stereotyped in some way through advertising.

Commenting on the findings, Tarana Burke, founder of the ‘Me Too’ movement, says: “Society and consumers are telling brands out loud that they are hurting. This is the moment for the industry to show it listens to marginalised voices. Under-represented people need to not just feel included but be included. This is what will transform the messages we hear, the images we see, the products we use, and how each of these are created.

“The ad world must lend its talents to lead true change in society. It must listen to the people who are leading these lives and these movements, and ACT on what is heard. When anyone feels represented in the mainstream, it has the power to fulfil the fundamental human need to be heard – one that the industry can actually help deliver on.”

Act 2 Unsterotype: making inclusive marketing a priority

Our answer is ‘Act 2 Unstereotype’, which will see us broadening our 2016 commitment to Unstereotype and challenging ourselves to create marketing, not just advertising, that will help influence the next generation of people to be free from prejudice.

The aim is to go even deeper to make real, structural changes to the entire marketing process. And to provoke and integrate more diverse and inclusive thinking across every brand – from new product development through to advertising production.

“If we want to see systemic change in society, we need to see systemic change in our industry. Act 2 Unstereotype helps brands create a generation free from prejudice. Inclusive marketing is not a choice anymore; we must act now,” says Aline Santos, Chief Brand Officer and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer.

Act 2 Unstereotype in action

Through Act 2 Unstereotype, our company and our brands will work to:

  • Provoke inclusive thinking across the end-to-end marketing process, from consumer insight, brand DNA and proposition, marketing mix development and creative development to behind the camera and on-screen portrayals.
  • Ensure an Unstereotype charter for every Unilever brand, outlining the equity, diversity and inclusion (ED&I) commitments the brand will deliver through its marketing.
  • Increase representation of people from diverse groups on screen and behind the camera.
  • Eradicate any digital alterations to photography – a 100% ban on changing models’ body shape, size, proportion or skin colour.

And we’ve already begun. Earlier this year, we saw the launch of our Positive Beauty vision, with the ambition to eliminate the word ‘normal’ from packaging and advertising across all beauty and personal care brands. We are also spending €2 billion annually with suppliers owned and led by people from under-represented groups.

Four ways our brands are working to create systemic change

Four ways our brands are working to create systemic change

Four ways our brands are working to create systemic change

The US CROWN Act prohibits race-based hair discrimination in the workplace and public schools. Dove co-founded the CROWN Coalition of like-minded and respected organisations to support legislation against hair discrimination in the US.

It also works to create a more equitable and inclusive experience for Black women and girls through the advancement of anti-hair discrimination legislation. And there have been successes. The CROWN Act was signed into law in California on 3 July 2019 and went into effect on 1 January 2020.

It is now law in 12 states and 24 municipalities.

Degree Inclusive

Currently, no deodorant product is specifically designed for people with upper limb disabilities to use. Twisting a deodorant cap, turning a stick or pushing down on a spray-can with limited arm mobility is a real challenge.

Degree partnered with an inclusive team of design experts from Wunderman Thompson, occupational therapists, engineers, consultants and people living with disabilities across the globe to create a prototype for Degree Inclusive. It’s a breakthrough accessible design that genuinely serves the needs of people with visual impairment and upper limb motor disabilities.

Dove Men + Care and Off Court Champs

Dove Men+Care is committed to challenging the limiting stereotypes about black men. In its ‘Off Court Champs’ campaign, it celebrates black men on and off the court. They’ve partnered with former NCAA student-athletes who prove that success on the court is only part of the story and are holding virtual off-court clinics to provide career guidance and practical resources for high school student athletes in partnership with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

To further challenge the limiting stereotypes in media and society about black men, Dove Men+Care is also inviting people to sign the Commit To C.A.R.E Now pledge.

Lux and the female gaze

Lux has achieved 90% female representation for its film directors by collaborating with heavyweight female film directors, production and creative teams to actively champion what it terms the ‘female gaze’. By giving a voice to women of different demographics, Lux aims to unlock diverse storytelling and a more complete representation of women and society.

A pertinent recent example is the brand’s campaign in support for the South African athlete, Caster Semenya, who has been banned from competing in the Olympics for having natural high-performance testosterone.