Faaez Samadi
Mar 20, 2017

Case study: Eyeing stereotypes

JWT Taipei taps its research on female attitudes to turn gender stereotypes into empowering messages in a unique campaign for contact lenses.

See here: Pegavision’s interactive digital ad used computer cameras to capture user eye rolls in response to gender stereotypes.
See here: Pegavision’s interactive digital ad used computer cameras to capture user eye rolls in response to gender stereotypes.

Brands have leveraged gender equality issues to score some fantastic advertising successes — Ariel’s ‘Share the load’ campaign and Nike’s ‘Da da ding’ are two that immediately spring to mind — but few Asian advertisers are able to immediately harness audience reaction and turn it around.

Coupled with the fact that it is getting harder to engage consumers no matter how worthy the cause, Pegavision’s innovative campaign, mapped out by J. Walter Thompson Taipei, becomes all the more striking for hitting the mark, through the medium of contact lenses.

‘Let the eyes speak’ was a digital and social campaign in Taiwan that combined an online film with an interactive website that, if viewers consented, accessed the computer’s camera and tracked their eye movements.

This article is part of a package of features:
Gender inequality in APAC adland: Scope, causes and cures

A woman is pictured on screen and a series of stereotypical statements appear in sequence — “all girls need to be gentle, that’s a given”, “embracing our bodies freely, that’s so unethical”, “marriage equals happiness, every girl wants it” and others.

These are meant to provoke an eye roll. If achieved, the camera tracks the eye-roll and activates a complete reversal of the video, which turns all the statements on their head to instead promote female empowerment.

So, in reverse, the viewer sees “marriage equal happiness, that’s so unethical”, then “embracing our bodies freely, that’s a given”, and “all girls need to be gentle, I never said that”. The video calls on women to change their own invisible biases and “be brave and different”. 

In tandem with the digital campaign, Pegavision gave away six different trial packs of its disposable coloured contact lenses, each displaying a different provocative statement using hashtags. 

These messages — such as “I dispose daily #OneNightStands, debauchery is better than being pretentious” and “I wear #Imperfection, my beauty is not standardised” — fed back into the campaign narrative of emboldening women to speak out against stereotypes around beauty and behaviour. The copy was also turned into gifs to share online.

Chang I-Fei, executive creative director of JWT Taipei, says the concept grew from Pegavision’s understanding of its core consumers and its desire to change perceptions.

“In Taiwan, more than 70 percent of contact lens consumers are women, and they regard contact lenses as a make-up need, rather than a medical supply,” Chang tells Campaign Asia-Pacific.

“Most of the invisible eyewear advertising in Taiwan is around scientific and functional appeal, which is a big positioning error, so we positioned Pegavision in the direction of female self-confidence.”

This stance was backed up and developed through data from JWT’s Female Tribes study, an in-depth global research project that analysed nine Asian markets, surveying 4,500 people. 

It found that while 84 percent of those surveyed agreed “there’s never been a better time to be a woman”, 92 percent said women ought to have a louder voice when it comes to cultural influence.

To help shape the brand message around self-confidence, Chang says his team road-tested some concepts with the Pegavision staff.

“We found that if men have had many relationships, they have ‘romantic experiences’, but women are ‘promiscuous’,” he says. “If men do not marry, they are ‘eligible bachelors’, but women are ‘leftover ladies’.

“However, that pressure to conform is often not from men, but women themselves. In the internal discussions we found most female workers felt marginalised, and even under peer pressure, so that they are too concerned about the eyes of others. This helped determine the theme: ‘Be unique’.” 

The digital element was particularly important, Chang says, because Taiwanese women are six times more active in online communities than men. These platforms are where concerns over image and perception are shared, but also, he says, where women say they can feel ostracised. 

“Even though Taiwanese women are very self-aware, we found in online communities, women are encouraging one another to be more ‘hardworking’ instead of more ‘different’; and if a woman expresses a different view, she is often bullied by the community or excluded from it,” Chang explains. 

“This is what we call ‘invisible prejudice’. Women here are simply not accepting of their peers who are different from them.”

It therefore seemed fitting to use a digital campaign to push a message promoting confidence and empowerment.

The campaign ran for a month in October last year, and while business results are still being calculated, Chang says early statistics on engagement are encouraging. It garnered more than 40 million impressions — not bad when you consider Taiwan’s population is 23 million. Consumers also snapped up more than 10,000 packs of the complimentary contact lenses.

More important, Chang says, is that the ad continues to earn a large share of online conversation, being repeatedly discussed in online forums. It seems Pegavision and JWT’s objective — “to connect with the country’s strong, independent female consumers” — has certainly made a deep impression on Taiwan’s digitally-active community. 

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