Clients lack bravery to pursue diversity in ads, cling to cliches

Rachael Micallef
By Rachael Micallef | 11 September 2014

Cliches in advertising abound. Creative agencies might take most of the heat for a lack of diversity in the media, but they put the blame back on to clients being too risk averse to take the leap and move away from staid images and stereotypes.

Getty images is on a drive to get the ad industry to rethink the images they use.

Speaking to AdNews as part of the See Women. Think event for women's network SheSays, Getty Images senior manager of content strategy Micha Schwing said it's important for the advertising industry to be aware of the role they play in perpetuating stereotypes, particularly when it comes to women.

Schwing said that the way older people, women and dads is still “disappointing” but that “something is happening in advertising” which has seen more diverse images of women and men come to the fore in brand campaigns recently, but it's still not the norm and there is a recognition that the Australian ad market isn't as progressive as it should be.

“In the US we have brands that push the boundaries more but with a smaller market, it's trickier, but the Australian ad market isn't as forward looking as it should be. We are aware that [Getty] provide images for every cliches you can think of, but we also have beautiful fresh content that shows the same concept and we would rather license that than those that reinforce cliches.”

In a panel session hosted by SheSays in Sydney last night, R/GA Sydney executive creative director Gavin McLeod and Isobar Sydney creative director Dhanu Sant agreed that more often than not creative ideas with more progressive images are put forward but are a “struggle to sell” to clients.

“I think a lot of the time the clients do look to see their target market literally reflected back at them,” McLeod told AdNews.

“You'll find that you'll choose [progressive] images but some of those images I’m not sure I would necessarily present back to the more normal clients. There are clients that would love [an unconventional] type of image. But maybe 75% of clients would gravitate towards a stock image even though they wouldn’t think they would.”

However McLeod added that the advent of digital has changed the type of image that advertisers use, with a renewed focus on “authenticity.”

“Marketing has gone into two separate streams. There is mainstream marketing which is predominately an idealised version of the lives we are living, then when we do digital it's much more connected to what we do and what people are doing in the real world. You put a stock image in that and it just wouldn’t resonate.”

Isobar's Sant added that while it is still difficult for advertisers to get more diverse imagery out there, this movement towards “authentic” imagery is making the push easier.

“I am a true believer of digital has forced brands to look at propose-based advertising. That is coming back now because if you don't tell people why you’re authentic and what you're going to offer as real brand, they're not going to buy into it,” Sant said.

“If clients don't do that they're not going to have real success so I think its easier for us to now sell in that kind of content than … five years ago.”


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