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Advertising Unilever

Unilever challenges APAC marketers to show more progressive portrayals of people in ads


By Shawn Lim, Reporter, Asia Pacific

September 26, 2018 | 3 min read

FMCG giant’s Unilever’s ‘Unstereotype’ initiative has taken on a new challenge by urging the marketing industry in Asia Pacific to push for more progressive portrayals of people and depict them in roles that are modern or forward-looking.


Only 13% of adverts featuring women and 18% of adverts featuring men could be considered progressive.

The company took on the music industry in June at Cannes Lions when it called for TV, music and movie creators and distributors to eliminate outdated stereotypes.

Now, with a recent independent analysis conducted by Unilever of industry-wide advertising across China, India and Indonesia, showing that only 13% of adverts featuring women and 18% of adverts featuring men could be considered progressive, it wants to advance the industry towards more authentic, representative and progressive advertising.

To do this, Unilever will launch a series of local actions and partnerships in Asia Pacific that will delve deeper into how stereotypes differ among societies and even differ from group to group within the same society.

“Our industry has worked hard to remove harmful stereotypes and must continue to do so. But this agenda is about more than removing harmful stereotypes,” said Aline Santos, executive vice president of global marketing and global head of diversity and inclusion at Unilever.

The company also aims to deploy techniques such as ‘de-averaging’ to ensure its advertising represents the whole truth of the people it reaches. It will also will convene its top six creative agencies in APAC to determine the local interventions needed to tackle diversity and inclusion across the entire creative value chain.

“We must work harder to be more representative and inclusive in our portrayals of all people, considering not only gender, but other dimensions such as race, class, language, sexuality.

“No two countries are the same and the discussion around stereotypes can often paint whole groups as one entity. By taking a stronger local action, global impact approach to #Unstereotype, we’ll be able to learn more and act faster to authentically reflect the diversity of the world we live in," she added.

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