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Unilever alliance aims to end gender stereotyping in advertising

The alliance aims to work together against stereotypical gender portrayals such as women being presented as cooks in family adverts.

Unilever has announced an alliance of major brands and organisations aiming to end gender stereotyping in advertising.

The Unstereotype Initiative, sponsored by UN Women, also includes Facebook, Google, Alibaba and Mars, as well as industry bodies such as the UK’s Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA).

The alliance aims to work together against stereotypical gender portrayals such as women being presented as cooks in family adverts. It will meet for the first time at the Cannes Lions Festival on Thursday.

Last year Unilever announced its #Unstereotype campaign to move to “progressive portrayals of people in our ads”, arguing that many of the depictions consumers saw across industry advertising were “stereotypical and outdated” and “represent a view of the world our consumers don’t aspire to or relate to”.

It said 40% of women in a recent Unilever study reported that they did not relate at all to women they saw in ads, while research had shown that progressive ads were 25% more effective.

Keith Weed, chief marketing and communications officer at Unilever, said: “This is not a moral issue, it’s an economic issue. We will create better advertising if we create advertising that doesn’t depend on the use of outdated stereotypes.

“We’ve seen true progress in our industry, but it doesn’t go far enough. Our job isn’t done until we never see an ad that diminishes or limits the role of women and men in society.

“We want to work with our peers across the industry to develop new ways of working, to share knowledge and approaches, so that we can scale the Unstereotype commitments. We believe cross-sector collaboration will lead to sustained transformation.”

Unilever rolled out its Dove “real beauty” campaign featuring women of all shapes and sizes more than 10 years ago, pointing to the brand’s growth over that time as evidence that there was business incentive for stereotyping in advertising to change.

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