Unilever continues battle against stereotyping

Lindsay Bennett
By Lindsay Bennett | 19 January 2017
The Lynx ad from 2016 was part of Unilever's #Unstereotype initiative

Unilever is continuing its mission to eradicate gender stereotypes, calling on political and business leaders to take action to tackle it.

The brand has unveiled a study that surveyed more than 9000 people in eight countries, including the UK, the US, Argentina, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Kenya and Turkey.

It found that gender stereotypes are imbedded into our culture and have a huge impact on people’s lives.

In the study, a large majority (70%) believe the world would be a better place if children were not exposed to gender stereotypes in media and marketing. 60% of women and 49% of men said that stereotypes personally impact their career and personal life.

More than 70% of men and 55% agreed that a man is the best choice to lead a high stakes project and two third of women felt they are pressured to “get over” inappropriate behaviour.

The research follows the launch of the #Unstereotype initiative launched by Unilever last year – a company-wide movement to actively move away from using stereotyped gender images in its brand marketing.

Talking to AdNews at Cannes in 2016, Unilever executive VP of global marketing Aline Santos explained the portrayal of women in ads is not only a moral and a social issue, but a business issue.

“Engagement and awareness goes through the roof when there is a more progressive portrayal of women in ads,” she said.

Other insights revealed 55% of men and 64% of women believe men do not challenge each other when they witness inappropriate behaviour. More than 70% said in the study it was the responsibility of senior leaders to take action.

At the unveiling of the new research in Switzerland, Unilever CEO Paul Polman said empowering women and girls offers the single biggest opportunity for human development and economic growth.

"The World Economic Forum’s latest Gender Gap Report notes that we may not achieve economic equality among men and women for another 170 years. That’s just not good enough. We need to lead the change in tackling unhelpful stereotypes that hold women – and men – back,” he said.

The approach is evident in Unilever’s recent advertising campaigns, including the “Find Your Magic” campaign from Lynx and Continental’s 2016 creative.

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