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Tackling gender bias in advertising: six lessons from Unstereotype Alliance member P&G

/ Introduction

At Cannes Lions this year, Marc Pritchard, the Chief Brand Officer of P&G, announced the company’s target to have female directors on at least half of its product commercials by 2023. Ensuring balance behind the camera is part of P&G’s #WeSeeEqual commitment to gender equality, alongside other initiatives including joining UN Women and a number of industry players and the WFA to form the Unstereotype Alliance in 2017.

During a recent WFA webinar organized in partnership with UN Women, WFA members had the opportunity to listen to one of P&G’s ‘brand builders’ working on gender equality, Anne Bonnaillie – Associate Director, Brand Building and Integrated Communications. Here are six take-outs from her presentation about the company’s gender equality journey:

All in

Your company’s brands are part of a whole. If your company is truly committed to driving gender equality, then this mantra shouldn’t stop with those brands on the leading edge. There are some P&G brands that have become a synonym for female empowerment and gender equality, such as Always or Ariel. The rest are embracing positive representation even when female empowerment is not at the core of their equities. Razor ads, for example, now feature fun biker girls and home care brands show men on top of household chores.

My skin, My way – 2018 Gillette campaign celebrating all women and skin

Lead change from the top

Tackling gender bias should be, first and foremost, a CMO-led effort. P&G Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard has been using his voice, internally and externally, to set the direction and expectations, not just for the P&G brands, but in a participative effort through initiatives such as the Unstereotype Alliance, for the whole industry. If you want to drive real change, make sure you turn key internal stakeholders into ambassadors that inspire and enable progress.

Set clear objectives and track performance

Define goals to ensure your marketing moves in the right direction then speak to your research partners to identify clear metrics that can be monitored. For P&G, the goal is two-fold: first, to ensure that 100% of their advertising reflects women positively and promotes gender equality and second, to increase the percentage of women behind the camera, aiming to achieve a 50/50 representation before 2023.

Invest in building capabilities

You can’t fight stereotypes in advertising without addressing the reality that the same issue exists within other spheres, including your own offices. Raising employee awareness, from young hires to marketing directors, of the bias everybody brings to the table and how to address it is critical. Think of complementing your creative efforts with training programmes and consulting sessions on unconscious bias.

Walk the talk internally

Taking action on gender requires company-wide change that goes beyond marketing to achieve equal gender representation across the entire company. It’s no good having great marketing if your company cannot provide an inclusive environment where everyone, men and women, can contribute their full potential.

You don’t need to go it alone

Smart partnerships can help you achieve your goals. To drive equal representation in creative and production roles, for instance, P&G has been partnering with Free The Bid, an initiative which promotes the work of female directors, and is also investing in doubling the number of directors and countries included in the Free The Bid database to accelerate progress. The company is also working with a number of industry stakeholders, including WFA, as part of the UN Women-led Unstereotype Alliance, to develop brand content in line with a set of principles that all signatories pledged to respect.

Free the Bid is a non-profit initiative advocating on behalf of women directors for equal opportunities to bid on commercial jobs

The full recording of the webinar is available in WFA’s online library. For more brand insights on championing gender equality in advertising, check WFA’s Guide to progressive gender portrayals in advertising.

Contact us

For more information or questions, please contact Camelia Cristache