Category Archives: gender

Fortnum & Mason: Adam & Steve | Valentine’s Day

In the last 5 years, as each February goes by I notice a gradual increase in the amount of same-sex Valentine’s Day cards being sold (in the UK). Last year Sainsbury’s sold its first range of Valentine’s Day cards aimed at same-sex couples, along with a very small range of independent and “quirky” gift shops selling same-sex Valentine’s gifts and cards.

I have always seen Fortnum & Mason as a store that is very much behind the times based on the fact that they continue to produce and sell foie gras, despite its barbaric and archaic production methods. Fortnum & Mason holds a royal warrant as a supplier of goods to the royal family, and has never showed any interest in changing their traditional custom despite criticism (and protests) for years. However, the brand has listened to its public in a different area of concern regarding the representation of gay and lesbian relationships, by creating a set of Valentine’s Day biscuits for gay, lesbian and straight couples:

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The Garden of Eden-style biscuits feature “Adam and Steve”, “Eve and Niamh” (pronounced “Neve”) and the traditional Biblical version, “Adam and Eve”. The “Adam and Steve” tin sold out almost immediately, and at £15 a tin with each biscuit delicately hand-iced I can certainly see why!

Fortnum’s has always been for everyone, with excellent taste, and we are delighted with the response to this collection. We can’t think of better biscuits to enjoy with a cup of tea this Valentine’s Day.

This product launch could be in reference to the common phrase many Bible bashers use: “It’s Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” – something I was once told by a classmate at art college, can you believe!!! The phrase has often been used by religious, homophobic politicians in parliament when arguing against equal marriage. It’s nice that Fortnum & Mason have created a product to celebrate love and turn that awful phrase on its head into something positive.

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Tinder: Invention of Together

Production company Buck have worked with Tinder to create this adorable animation for the dating app. It’s a far cry from what I would expect from Tinder, but the “history of man and woman” concept works really well. It seems Tinder are trying to move away from being seen as a hookup app, and more about finding someone with a connection:

In this epic history of man and womankind’s eternal struggle to couple… and do other things, the good folks at Tinder let us get our art on to create a luscious world where people have wonderbutts… and the same face.

Will this animation help the apps reputation? I’m not so sure… but from a creative perspective it’s a fantastic narrative with strong connotations towards the evolution of man and woman both physically and emotionally. ‘Invention of Together’ shows how thousands of years ago choosing who you wanted to date or love wasn’t an option – the narrative explores forced marriages, religious and moral differences – but now with the freedom to date who we want, Tinder aims to make this even easier to build new connections. We see a nod to the struggles of having homophobic parents and the celebration of the legalisation of interracial marriage.

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I recommend looking at Buck’s development section on their website to see the process of the wonderful character design. Buck used physical sets with computer generated characters, which required a month of shooting and eight weeks of postproduction. They really committed to the idea of evolution of man and woman by making each of the characters from the same body: “One of the concepts that we had was that all of mankind is from the same place and I guess to make the characters feel like they were all one family. So if you watch, the caveman [bodies] are the same as the modern-day characters’ [bodies]”:

The film will be rolled out online globally, following its debut in South Korea in December 2017. You can also see some awesome BTS shoots here.

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OkCupid: DTF

Ad agency Wieden + Kennedy (New York) were commissioned by dating service OkCupid to create a new campaign. Online dating has created a whole new set of vocabulary for millenials, like “ghosting” (ignoring someone), “nudes” (sending unsolicited naked photos), “catfish” (creating fake profiles) and “DTF” (“down to f*ck”). Using these common problems that online daters experience, the concept focuses on trying to rid the stigma of “hookup sites” and the dehumanisation of modern dating.

OkCupid’s CMO Melissa Hobley said:

In the current political and social climate, we felt a responsibility and saw an opportunity to play a part in changing the conversation about dating culture and empowering each individual to reclaim the meaning of DTF and make it theirs.

With this as the aim of the campaign, W+K used the phrase “DTF” and turned it into “down to <insert activity or interest here>”, such as “DTFight over the president”, “DTFinish my novel” and “DTFoot the bill”:

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OkCupid’s change in approach towards online dating aims to achieve substance and depth through the app’s new features, as it recently rolled out OkCupid Discovery, which lets users search by passions and interests. Interestingly, one of these is adding a “Trump filter”, which directly correlates with this campaign’s brand voice, particularly with the political references in some of the ads (above).

The photography for the campaign was shot by artists Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari, the creators of Toilet Paper magazine. Cattelan and Ferrari have a unique and recognisable aesthetic, always creating work that is brightly coloured and resembles old-school fashion advertisements. I absolutely love what they have created.
The playful nature of the art direction focuses on the fun and romantic sides of dating, rather than the historically misogynistic and disposable aspects that “DTF” dating apps (like Tinder and Grindr) have adopted. Each colourful ad is illustrated with an image against a flat, bright-hued background, making every image seem like a work of art.

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The ads will initially be rolled out in New York subways, and will eventually be displayed all over the USA. This is actually OkCupid’s first ever ad campaign which includes bus wraps, coffee sleeves, OOH posters and digital posts. The tagline “dating deserves better” is part of OkCupid’s efforts to market the service as one that can help you find a relationship, not just a hookup.

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National Suicide Prevention Lifeline | Logic: 1-800-273-8255

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This creative mashup is a wonderful example of when music, film, advertising and a PSA come together to create a piece for such an important issue – suicide. The song was created in partnership with the federal government initiative and was named “1-800-273-8255” as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number. The song was written and produced by American rapper Logic, alongside producers 6ix, and features guest vocals from singer-songwriters Alessia Cara and Khalid. The song was performed in August last year at the MTV Video Music Awards and received a well deserved nomination for Song of the Year at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards. At the VMAs, Logic shared the stage with suicide attempt survivors and consequently the line received 5,041 calls following the emotional performance.

The song and video takes us through a narrative of a young man’s life feeling suicidal, considering suicide and eventually coming out on top as an older adult. The context itself explores a lot of issues that people of all ages, races and backgrounds have to face. I think it’s a very clever choice that the directors chose when casting the actors for the video, as suicide amongst young men is an epidemic of the 21st century. Additionally, there is a cultural representation explored as the main character comes from a family that racially, typically has traditions and values not associated with talking about emotions, sexuality and depression in men.
Although the video narrates serious themes, including racism, politics and Logic’s own biracial identity, ultimately, the song delivers a message of hope. I think this should be shown to young people in schools across the globe. It is incredible that someone in the music industry (who is nowhere near as popular as his other VMA performer counterparts) put so much time, effort and heart into a project. The results speak for themselves: on the day of the release, the lifeline received over 4,573 calls, and a 27% increase from the usual volume. Also, the NSPL website saw a monthly boost of 100,000 visits, from an average of 300,000 up to 400,000, in the two months after the song’s release. Google searches for the phone number doubled immediately after April, and they remain consistently 25% above the previous average today.

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Procter & Gamble: The Talk

Get the tissues out! This short film by BBDO (New York) was created for My Black is Beautiful, a group of visionary black women at P&G (created in 2006) to spark a broader dialogue about black beauty. The megaconglomerate owning almost every brand (apart from those owned by Unilever) showcases unique, and real stories with the aim of encouraging viewers to start a conversation on social media with the hashtag #TalkAboutBias.

“The Talk” narrates 6 stories of different generations of black families and the talk parents have to have with their children about discrimination. This is an ad for all countries, but the specific reference to police violence in the US is a very clear statement from P&G, and one that needs to be talked about. Although P&G have stated this is not a political statement, but a reflection of real life, some self righteous white people are claiming that it supports “cop-hate” – of course, making it about them rather than the issue at hand – racial bias.
Well, Dove, this is how it’s done! If a brand or an agency wants to talk about racism and discrimination, this is exactly how it should be communicated. The campaign doesn’t end there – a series of conversations about various aspects of racial bias continues on P&G’s “The Talk” website.

Damon Jones, P&G’s Director of Global Company Communications said:

Great advertising opens hearts and changes minds, but doesn’t have to stop there. We believe great advertising can inspire real, lasting change. That’s the aspiration behind ‘The Talk’. These real-life conversations about conscious and unconscious bias are too common in homes across the country and weigh heavily on parents and children of many different backgrounds. We take seriously the opportunity to spark dialogue on what we all can do to put an end to the harmful effects of bias, and motivate true change.

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Chris Hughes for Mental Health Awareness: Top man | CALM

Yesterday, Love Island’s Chris Hughes released a bizarre video campaign for a collaboration with Topman called “L’eau de Chris”. The video posted on Instagram received a lot of criticism, labelling Chris a joke and a narcissist for selling the drink for £2. The post saw the 24-year-old star posing in his underwear with “Mineral water infused with a Chris Hughes tears”.

 

As an avid Love Island viewer (no shame here) I assumed that the ad was a parody and a p*ss-take – Chris is known for his dead-pan humour and providing many giggles to millions of viewers this summer. To my surprise the campaign was in fact real, but not for a self-absorbed product to build his brand. Chris has teamed up with mental health charity CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) to raise awareness about male mental health and the male suicide epidemic.

CALM launched the #Don’tBottleItUp campaign to urge men not to internalise their emotions after it was found in a poll for YouGov that 84% of UK men say they bottle up their emotions. Chris collaborated with world famous photographer RANKIN for this project.

L’eau de Chris? What’s really ludicrous is that suicide is still the single biggest killer of young men in the UK. We live in a culture that encourages men to “man up” and bottle things up. That’s why I’ve become an Ambassador for CALM and why together with TOPMAN we want to show men across the UK that it’s okay to open up instead of bottling it up.

Hughes is now proudly an ambassador for CALM, and broke down in tears at an event yesterday whilst explaining his own struggles with mental health. Whilst on Love Island, Chris was praised for being very open with his feelings, something which men and boys struggle with immensely. Whoever chose Chris as ambassador certainly hit the nail on the head when it comes to targeting young people, as his name is everywhere in the world of gossip and celebrity since stealing our hearts on ITV2.
The limited edition promotional run of L’Eau de Chris water bottles (yes they are real) created for Chris’s campaign launch will now be auctioned here, with all proceeds going to support the charity. Also, Topman will donate £2 from every pack of Topman boxers sold from 10th – 31st October to CALM, in support of the #DontBottleItUp campaign.

 

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Period Equity: Periods Are Not a Luxury

Just like here in the UK, 36 states in the US still collect sales tax on tampons and sanitary towels. In June 2017, the federal Senate in Australia voted down a motion by the greens to remove the GST from all female sanitary products, a tax which does not apply to condoms or lubricant. Absurd right?! So, ad agency J.Walter Thompson and The Sweet Shop created an absurd product to go with this tax law, along with a tongue-in-cheek campaign for Period Equity.
Along with the help of actress/model Amber Rose’s sultry voice, they point out that 36 US states have failed to classify menstrual products as a necessity, therefore taxing them as a luxury… just like a diamond necklace! The campaign actually launched at Amber Rose’s OPENed Women’s Conference and annual SlutWalk on September 30th in LA.

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This isn’t the first time I have blogged about Period Equity – the redesign by Pentagram’s Paula Scher caught my eye earlier this year.
Most people are not aware that the tax targets half of the US population, and I definitely think this issue should be raised (again) in the Houses of Parliament here too. What a fantastic campaign.

Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, co-founder of Period Equity said:

We were thrilled to collaborate on this project with JWT and Amber Rose. There’s a long road ahead in the fight for safe and accessible menstrual products for all, as well as instigating open, shame-free conversation around periods. This campaign, coupled with Amber’s unflinchingly strong voice on gender issues, is a smart approach to drumming up much needed discourse around menstrual equity, and calling for systemic change as well.

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Trans* Ban: Not a Burden

There seems to be running theme with the illustrations I am creating. It’s impossible to ignore the garbage that comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth, and it’s certainly impossible to ignore messages of hate, including transphobia.
In August, Trump’s directive issued a military policy that would prohibit transgender people from joining all branches of the armed forces and ban military healthcare plans from funding sex-reassignment surgeries. Trump has decided to discredit American heroes based on their gender identity by directing the military not to move forward with an Obama-era plan (from 2016). The plan allowed transgender individuals to be recruited into the armed forces, along with a ban of the Department of Defense from using its resources to provide medical treatment mentioned above.

Once more, many trans* heroes will be left in limbo in so many different ways – mentally, socially, financially and emotionally. Trump’s decision pours salt an already transphobic wound that a large part of the world is desperately trying to heal.
This illustration questions what exactly is the difference between a cis-soldier and a trans-soldier? Nothing.

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Meet the Meat: M&C Saatchi

The Task Force on Human Trafficking and Prostitution (TFHT) teamed up with M&C Saatchi (Tel Aviv) to campaign for the legislation to prohibit prostitution, aiming to put an end to the prostitution industry in Israel. Mortality rates among Israeli female prostitutes are 40 times higher than the rest of the population, so M&C aimed to reduce the demand for prostitution by engaging with consumers who finance the industry.
The message for this campaign is that women are not a product for consumption, so they created a pop-up ‘food’ truck parked opposite the Israeli Parliament selling “women’s meat” sandwiches called ‘Breast Amal’ and ‘Ribs of Yael’, packaged into brown paper bags with real life stories of prostitutes:

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The experiential ‘Meet the Meat’ creative also features a truck with an illustration of a woman’s body divided into ‘cuts’, just like a cow. The vivid and disturbing creative reflects the dark facts – according to a survey by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services, 12,500 women, men and teenagers are employed in prostitution in Israel.

Tzur Golan, ECD and Partner at M&C Saatchi, Tel Aviv said:

We can’t stand by and let this continue. It’s important to highlight the fact that every day vulnerable men, women and teenagers are employed in prostitution – and it’s getting worse. The best way to stop the wheels of this industry is to harm demand – if there’s no demand there won’t be supply. We wanted to create meaningful work and will continue to support TFHT as they continue to take a stand against the prostitution industry.

This is an incredible example of using advertising for social change – not just creating awareness in the most basic marketing form, but by using an in-your-face, bold and gross tactic is a sure way to get people talking. Hopefully it will get the government talking too.

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ASA Will Introduce Guidelines for 2018 on Gender Stereotyping in Advertising

The Advertising Standards Authority has reviewed its approach to ads that feature stereotypical gender roles, following the publication of an investigation into gender stereotyping in advertising; the Depictions, Perceptions and Harm report. The report claims that gender stereotyping in advertising causes harm towards individuals, the economy and society.

In 2015, the infamous “Beach Body Ready” advert sparked concerns for the sexualisation and objectification of women in advertising, creating a conversation with ASA about how women are portrayed as desirable based on their bodies:

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ASA conducted a review following the complaints, but now the regulators are receiving complaints about ads that feature sexist stereotypes or mock people who don’t follow traditional roles. The new standards are only guidelines and are not intended to ban all forms of gender stereotypes, e.g. there will not be a ban on ads showing a woman cleaning or a man doing DIY tasks. However, subject to context and content considerations, the evidence suggests the following types of depictions are likely to be problematic:

  • An ad which depicts family members creating a mess while a woman has sole responsibility for cleaning it up
  • An ad that suggests a specific activity is inappropriate for boys because it is stereotypically associated with girls, or vice-versa
  • An ad that features a man trying and failing to undertake simple parental or household tasks

“CAP will report publically on its progress before the end of 2017 and commits, as always, to delivering training and advice on the new standards in good time before they come into force in 2018.”
So, the ‘guidelines’ suggest that agencies, brands and companies should consider whether the stereotypes shown in their campaigns would “reinforce assumptions that adversely limit how people see themselves and how others see them”. Here is a list of what should be avoided:

  • Roles: Occupations or positions usually associated with a specific gender.
  • Characteristics: Attributes or behaviours associated with a specific gender.
  • Mocking people for not conforming to stereotype: Making fun of someone for behaving or looking in a non-stereotypical way.
  • Sexualisation: Portraying individuals in a highly sexualised manner.
  • Objectification: Depicting someone in a way that focuses on their body or body parts.
  • Body Image: Depicting an unhealthy body image.

Ads suggesting specific activities were suitable only for boys or girls are problematic and something ASA advises against. This is a topic I investigated at university for my gender project and for my dissertation exploring masculinity in modern advertising. It’s quite incredible (and worrying) to to dissect the vast range of gendered stereotypes advertising still depicts. There is an enormous list of adverts that have been criticised for depicting masculinity and femininity stereotypically, and here are just a few examples:

Aptamil depicting gendered roles for boys and girls

KFC suggesting anxiety/mental health isn’t manly (the ad has been taken down – sorry for the poor quality!)

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GAP portraying only boys as academics

Whilst a lot of people will claim that these guidelines are “over-sensitive” and “PC”,  the mocking of women and men and the reinforcement of stereotyped views of gender roles are issues that have gained considerable public interest, with the facts to support the claims:

The move follows a major research project from JWT (New York) and The Geena Davies Institute in the Media which analysed 2,000 ads and found that women in advertising are “humourless, mute and in the kitchen’. According to the research, women are 48% more likely to be shown in the kitchen.

JWT’s recent Women’s Index surveyed 9,000 women and found that 85% of them felt advertising and film needed to “catch up with the real world”. Additionally, since concerns were raised about gender portrayal in advertising, brands have taken a conscious decision to change the way men and women are depicted. Unilever recently teamed up with Mars, Facebook, and WPP to form the Unstereotype Alliance – a group dedicated to purging gender bias from ads – followed by an ‘Unstereotype’ pledge. Following this, they created Dove and Lynx ads which aimed to smash traditional gender roles, and consequently saw a 24% increase in consumer ratings.
Lynx ‘Find Your Magic’ is actually one of my favourite male brand ads:

In a time where we need feminism, diverse masculinity and gender diversity more than ever, I think this is a wonderful idea. The fact that they are guidelines rather than rules also helps show people that based off research, this sets a standard that we should all (not just creatives) adhere to when it comes to gender. Sort of like a moral code.
It’s hard to believe that 40+ years after the Sex Discrimination Act we are still seeing gender discrimination on our screens.
Often, I wonder if people are becoming desensitized to feminism because a large majority of people actually believe that women have equal rights just because we won the right to vote or can become a CEO. When it reality, we are far from gender equality – salaries aren’t the same, women and discriminated against and girls are still sexualised.

So if you think this is “over-sensitive”, you need to EDUCATE YO’SELF!

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