Staff Reporters
Mar 8, 2022

Gerety Awards jurors on female-centred work that has meaning for them

We asked three 2022 Asian jurors of the Gerety Awards, which views creative work from the perspective of women, to each share a piece of work that deserves recognition and tell us why.

Gerety Awards jurors on female-centred work that has meaning for them

Ridding the advertising world of sexism may be a slow process, but as more women creatives, directors, strategists, planners and producers become involved in more campaigns, we are seeing more work become more reflective of women's real attitudes and experiences. While women have always recognised the stereotyping and damage that sexist campaigns can cause, men who may have been previously oblivious are now even able to spot the sexism and mysogyny in campaigns that once passed as humour or were even lauded with awards in the not too recent past. 

Many have wondered what all advertising award shows would have been like had women only been judging the work. That, in essence, is the aim of the Gerety Awards. Named after female copywriter Frances Gerety who coined the phrase, "A diamond is forever", it is the only global creative prize to reward the best in advertising from a female perspective with all-female juries. 

This International Women's Day, Campaign Asia Pacific asked three Gerety jurors in Asia to identify a piece of work they found meaningful and deserves recognition. These could originate from anytime or anywhere. As such, the examples they've chosen to share are completely eclectic, rangng from inspirational to deeply personal. 

Godiva Japan's 2018 Valentine’s Day newspaper ad

For cultural context, in Japan, it is common for women to give “giri choco” (obligation chocolate)” to their male coworkers on Valentine's Day. (A month later, men return the favour with a platonic gift on 'White Day' which is March 14th). It's meant to signify appreciation for help and support in the workplace. 

But in 2018, Belgian luxury chocolatier Godiva took out a full page ad in one of Japan's most influential financial newspapers, the Nihon Keizaki Shimbun, with the instructions: “Japan, let’s stop the giri choco practice.” The ad, targeting financial executives and top managers, took aim at the entire practice, as this annual 'obligation' for women was not only costly, but ran against the voluntary spirit of giving. 

"This ad was one of the first examples of gender issue-related brand activism in Japan," says Maiya Kinoshita, PR planner and copywriter at Dentsu Japan. "By creating social discussion, it became easier for women to quit conventional practices."

Here's one report's full translation of the ad:

Japan, let’s stop the giri choco practice.

There are women who say they hate Valentine’s Day, and there are also women who feel relieved when Valentine’s Day falls on a weekend. Why? Because of the difficulty and inconvenience of thinking of who to give giri choco to, and then having to buy it. They have to spend mental energy and money, but it’s hard to break the cycle, and they feel irritated about the custom every year.

We at Godiva speak from experience, because we see this happen annually. Of course it’s OK to give chocolate to someone you have genuine feelings for, but it’s OK not to give anyone giri choco. Honestly, in this day and age, it’s better not to. This is what we’ve come to believe.

Valentine’s Day is supposed to be a day when you tell someone your pure feelings. It’s not a day on which you’re supposed to do something extra for the sake of smooth relations at work. So men, especially if you’re the top person in your company, tell the women in your office, “Don’t force yourself to give anyone giri choco.”

We want more people to experience the joy of telling people their feelings, and we want them to enjoy Valentine’s Day more than they do now. “I love you.” “I adore you.” “Thank you, truly.” Those aren’t things you say to be polite. From now on, we want to continue giving these earnest sentiments an important place in our hearts.

Cancer Council NSW's 2014 'I Touch Myself' campaign

This pro-bono campaign from J Walter Thompson Sydney paid homage to the late Australian singer Chrissy Amphlett in order to raise awareness about how important self-examination is in the early detection of breast cancer. Featuring leading female Australian musicians who covered her iconic song 'I Touch Myself', the project reached 4.2 million Australian women in the first 48 hours. 

The campaign did receive awards recognition, with a gold, silver and bronze Spike in 2014 but only reached silver at Cannes Lions. 

"I felt it should have been celebrated more," says Abi Aquino, chief creative officer at MullenLowe Treyna in the Philippines. "The song, the singers, and the story created an incredibly thoughtful and sensitive campaign for breast cancer. In a category that relies on deep drama or almost absurdist humor, this one managed to be emotional and soaring as well."

Traditional Japanese artisan craft videos

In this third example, it's not the work itself that needs more recognition. Rather it's the story of how it was made and who was able to participate in creating it that makes the work of significance to Yumi Tanabe Arnaudo, COO and head of production at Syn Music in Japan:

"A number of years ago, I produced a programme for NHK that highlighted Japanese traditional artisan craft industry. Seeing this culturally vital industry move toward extinction inspired me to team up with close industry contacts to launch an ecommerce platform that would market and sell these special products to a wider audience outside of Japan. My mission was to support the sustainability of the precious crafts in Japan, and I was in charge of producing the short introductory visual spots of each artisan, which required traveling around the county to interview people in their studios and places of work.

At the time, as a young mother, there was little government support for childcare. The more I had to travel, the more it cost, as I needed help with a babysitter—uncommon ground for Japanese working mothers then and now. After a year of dedicated effort, I had to step back and regretfully discontinue. As a reflect on my experience, I hope there will be increased government support for women, especially mothers, who want to build careers in support of both their families and a larger societal vision."

Still too many ads from a male perspective

The jurors from Japan noted there is still much to do when it comes to rooting out male biases in advertising in their home market. 

"The problem in Japan is not in award show judges undervaluing certain works, but rather overvaluing works that are more favorable to a male’s perspective—even works that promote toxic masculinity," Kinoshita says. 

"There are still many works in Japan that fail to portray women fairly," she continues. "I would like to send out a message to everyone in our industry that today, respect for diversity and gender equality is a requirement for all of us. Some say that our industry is about creating culture. If that is true, let’s create a culture that everyone can be proud of."

Yumi Tanabe Arnaudo agrees with the sentiment. "When I watched this IKEA ad (see below) with my friends, we were joking around how the main character serving was how I like to run around and serve and host at my get togethers," she says.

"However, as the conversation grew, it became more questionable that it was odd or could be touching gender gap issues of portraying only a female cleaning up the mess, working and rushing to 'serve' the family who are just waiting to be served and that the ad could have shown the father to be helping out in the spot for a more balanced view. While traditionally in Japan there is culture authenticity and expectation for females to 'serve' and 'host', there are mixed views about whether it portrays the values of today."

Campaign Asia

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