How to change the world through advertising

1MJD3cK8.jpgBy Genevieve Clay-Smith, founder, Taste Creative

Diversity in marketing: Not just smart for business, a way to change the world.

It might sound like a bold and idealistic statement, but when we represent diverse people in advertising campaigns and when we challenge gender roles, we're having an impact on society.

Diversity marketing has been used by global brands to break into new markets for years with the tactic being particularly evident within the US where brands tailor campaigns to speak to diverse segments of the market.
In an increasingly diverse society, it makes sense to implement such a strategy, after all consumers are more likely to buy a product they can imagine themselves using -- it makes you wonder why in Australia many brands seem to be on the back foot when it comes to showcasing diversity in their marketing. But business aside, there's something more important to it; the way in which we represent diversity and gender in advertising has an impact that goes beyond just making sales.

We have a melting pot of diverse people living in our nation and when we fail to give people outside the constructed status quo a place in our media landscape, we say, "You're invisible". Furthermore when ads  continually show men as characters in positions of power, gender stereotyping is reinforced in our culture.

Earlier this year I attended a Screen Australia seminar to hear from Geena Davis on gender equality in media. The Academy Award winner has been advocating for years with her foundation The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media; her strap line, "If she can see it, she can be it."

At the conference I was not surprised to hear that her research suggests when young, white males watch TV, their self esteem increases. But the more hours of TV a girl watches the fewer options she thinks she has in life.

Geena's institute also found that since the release of Brave in 2012 and the Hunger Games in 2013, girls' participation in archery has doubled. Needless to say the power of how we represent ourselves in the media, has a huge impact on the development of our identity and understanding of the world.

When people see themselves in the media, aka society's mirror, it validates them. It affirms their identity and place in the world. Culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD), LGBTIQ, people with disability, Indigenous and other marginalised communities need to see themselves in the mirror along with everyone else. The rest of society needs to see these groups portrayed too; it shows everyone they are valued threads in the tapestry of our community. Girls need to see women portrayed as bosses and people in positions of power because, like Geena's research shows, it has an impact on the development of their identity and what's possible for their lives.

So how can we make marketing more diverse not only for the sake of business, but also to help cultivate a more inclusive world? I have three ideas that might help.

Continue reading here...

3 Comments

WTF said:

Step 1. Have wealthy parents
Step 2. be an idealist
Step 3. Get write up on Campaignbrief

lol k said:

it's ads

After reading this...

People in Ad Agencies: *lean back in their Aeron chairs with smug smiles on their faces and think about how good they are*

Everyone Else: *no reaction, because articles like this are echo-chamber bullshit, and no one in the world will read this let alone care about this ever*

Advertising is a trade, and it's a mundane, meaningless one at that. There's no creativity, no impact, it's irrelevant stuff that people go out of their ways to avoid. Bricklayers improve lives more than agency creatives do.

Be proud of your job, sure. But don't convince yourself that it's something that it's not.

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