Advertising has got better

This might be a controversial statement for some.  And it depends of course on what you regard as “better”.  After all we are no longer in the so-called Golden Age of Advertising.  Creative legend and OG Dave Trott has recently posted lots of great ads on Twitter with his notes on how they cut through and were mould breaking.  This includes his Victory V ad with a man with his head blown off.   His comment: “Did this poster with Derrick Hass – no headline, no copy, no logo. In those days we trusted consumers to have a bit more nous.”

Maybe some (great) creatives did. 

There were lots of less subtle messages too.  I grew up in an era where TV ads told you that you weren’t a good mum if you didn’t buy your kids a certain breakfast cereal.  Where if you didn’t buy the right kind of cleaning product you were sloppy.  Where women were perfect or perfectly awful and men never did the housework. You could characterise it as bombardment to maintain the status quo from 1950s society norms.  The 2018 ASA report concludes that there was plenty of evidence that there still had to be a tougher line on ads featuring stereotypical gender roles, including ads which mock people for not conforming to gender stereotypes.

This has changed, this has got better.

I spoke at United Nations General Assembly in New York in September for the World Women Foundation about the role that media and advertising can play in making the world more equal for women and girls.

I said that the industry had come a long way since my childhood when ads largely supported the status quo of depicting subservient women.  Increasingly advertisers and their agencies are seeking to fulfil profit goals whilst also doing something to make the world better. 

Dove’s campaign for real beauty is of course one example of this.  In India Ariel campaigns for couples to Share the Load.  Always Like a girl, highlights inequalities in attitudes.  eBay UK & Black Girl Fest partnered to expand economic opportunities for Black women ecommerce founders. in Peru when Mibanco discovered that more women were paying back their loans and building up savings than men, they wanted to make a stand and empower those that had previously been denied financial liberty. The Emancipation Loan, removed the need for a second signature from a woman’s husband in order to access lines of credit, enabling women to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams, without asking for permission.

In addition advertisers play a role in making the world safer for women and girls

Vodafone in Turkey created an app that women could use in secret to get help when they were in danger of domestic abuse. The app was hidden within a flashlight app, all a woman needed to do was shake her phone and a message along with her location would be sent to three people she trusts.

Every time a women searched in Google in Columbia for any word related to domestic violence they would see a video created by an influencer, her face bruised and battered.

Every viewer who watched the video was tracked. The next time they searched one of our queries a more dramatic video would be shown, featuring Estefania suffering from an even more brutal attack. In total, there were 230 different films, personalised in real time, and a huge up turn in women seeking help.

Artificial intelligence created a stand out campaign against domestic violence in Israel.  The videos use the voice of each victim — as well as realistic facial features and gestures — to convey the message that someone living in the reality of domestic abuse can and should get out before it’s too late.

MediaCom were proud to work with the Home Office and Channel 4 on a campaign to highlight the issue of coercive control in the biggest teen soap of the time, HollyOaks.

Things have come a long way. They have got better.  If we all take a real responsibility in our choices they will can and will get better still.  We can all make a difference.

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