Faaez Samadi
Sep 26, 2018

Killing off stereotypes is a business imperative

Aline Santos at Unilever explained why if the moral argument isn’t swaying your brand, the business case absolutely should.

Aline Santos at Spikes Asia 2018
Aline Santos at Spikes Asia 2018

Brands around the world, and in Asia specifically, are still far behind in bringing their advertising into 2018 and representing the people watching it.

Speaking at Spikes Asia 2018 about Unilever’s #Unstereotype campaign to drive progressive advertising, Aline Santos, executive vice president of global marketing and head of global diversity and inclusion, excoriated the industry for still having a lazy attitude to inclusivity.

“We don’t want to be an industry just shrugging its shoulders,” she said. “Our industry has been very lazy – lazy advertising, lazy marketing, lazy creativity. Laziness is damaging creativity, losing audiences, killing brands and most importantly, hurting society.”

According to a Unilever study that tested more than 1,000 ads, Santos said progressive advertising improves brand credibility by 21%, is 25% more impactful with consumers and increases purchase intent by 18%. These are tangible findings that can help marketers build a business case for creating the right work for today, she said.

Highlighting separate findings from research Unilever did on the Asian advertising industry, Santos pointed out, among other things, that just 0.2% showed women as funny, not a single one showed anyone with a disability and only 3% showed women over the age of 40.

“I have been lazy in the past,” she admitted, “and probably some of you have been too in terms of showing different references to people in your communications. We should fight this.”

Another pillar of Unilever’s campaign is shifting the focus to all stereotypes, and not just those of women. Santos pointed out that today, “it’s really not easy to be a man” if you look at the stereotypical advertising that portrays them.

“You have to be affluent, be a leader, have a six pack, and be sporty. This narrative is tired and we need to change it,” she said.

To that end, Santos highlighted Unilever brand Dove Men+Care’s new ‘Future dads’ campaign that seeks to support more men to spend time with their young children. Coupled with this is a new Unilever global initiative to offer paternity leave in all 190 of its markets, and help encourage male staff to take it.

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