Who Run the World?
Last week, Unruly announced a tool that tests if ads are sexist. Facial coding and survey responses measure factors like objectification and the types of roles women embody in advertisements. This week, 180 female advertising executives launched “Time’s Up Advertising,” an initiative to create policies and practices in the industry to combat discrimination, harassment and abuse.
Hot on the heels of International Women’s Day, it’s invigorating to see these things come to life. It’s initiatives like this that become movements, whose present-day beginnings turn into established agents of change. But along with these radical and positive advancements come questions and speculations of who will rewrite the rules and who is just along for the ride.
Brands like Smirnoff and Uber debuted activations for IWD that encourage us to be mindful of our gender biases and tell women’s stories. And while the activations themselves are solid, unfortunately the companies motivations are cause for speculation. Smirnoff is no stranger to wildly inappropriate ads that objectify women, though in recent days, they’ve downgraded to just casually offensive ones. And Uber was the subject of many unflattering headlines last year amidst sexual harassment scandals. For every genuinely positive brand activation, such as the one from Brawny showing strength knows no gender, there are examples that seem a little too convenient.
The tides are changing and injustice is being overturned by the very people who have been exploited. But every cause isn’t a good match for every brand. For some, the passion for women’s issues is clear. For others, the waters are murky. But in the end, any attention and positive action that contributes to this Year of the Woman has some merit. Even if it is an act of redemption.
Photo credits: Chuttersnap (top post) and David Marcu (bottom post)