COVID-19, the Black Lives Matter movement and lockdown have shown all of us that we have a part to play in helping create a better society and the same is true for businesses and brands.
Businesses have a social responsibility to contribute to the welfare of society and the environment. Social responsibility can take many different forms, it could be implemented through sustainable products, outreach programs, charity work or social campaigns.
Out of all industries, the Advertising and Marketing industry has the most potential to improve the welfare of society because of our ability to create messages that are remembered and embedded into popular culture.
The ability to change people’s perceptions and habits means that when creating campaigns, advertisers and marketers need to be very aware of what messages their campaigns are creating.
Our Whitepaper found that more than 50% of all content creators we surveyed said that diversity was the number one issue that needs to be addressed by marketers and brands moving forward.
Similarly, a quarter of influencers (25%) want to establish relationships with brands that are aligned with their moral standpoints — across diversity, the environment, and social issues.
The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has ruled that all marketing communications should be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and society. They have identified three main areas for creating socially responsible content; body image, gender stereotypes and male beauty standards.
In Influencer Marketing, it is even more crucial to consider your messaging because of how personal social media can be. Many people follow influencers because they are inspired by them and can relate to them.
At TAKUMI we are prioritising social responsibility in our work and aim to make our campaigns as diverse as possible and work with brands that support social media campaigns that have a responsible message that seeks to improve society.
The representation of body image in ads has come under increasing scrutiny as the body positivity movement grows. Consumers now want to see a wider variety of body types represented in the media.
When creating campaigns, brands need to remember that ads should not suggest that an individual’s happiness or emotional wellbeing depends on them conforming to an idealised, gender-stereotypical body shape or physical features.
Ideally, a campaign should aim to have a diverse group of influencers promote their product thereby showing consumers that there is no one set definition of beauty.
We were very proud to collaborate with ‘Venus’ last year to help promote their “My Skin. My Way” campaign, which aimed to encourage women to be comfortable in their own skin and disregard constraining beauty rules.
The campaign featured a diverse range of women showing off their bodies and talking about when they have felt self-conscious in their own skin. One of our influencers shared an inspiring image of her stretch marks created by her pregnancy with an image of her toddler hugging her.
Another part of creating positive representations of body images in ads, is creating a space for people to talk openly about their bodies and to remove stigmas surrounding common and natural experiences.
Our campaigns with ‘Always’ helped to do this. We collaborated with Always to promote awareness about the #Weneedtotalk movement which sought to normalise and inform women about female bladder weakness.
The campaign involved over 85 influencers posting candid pictures of themselves and then openly discussing their experiences of both bladder weakness and pelvic floor exercises. The campaign generated over 2K comments of other women sharing their stories.
Gender Roles and Stereotypes
In June 2019 the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) introduced new rules around the portrayal of gender stereotypes in marketing materials. These rules state that ads ‘must not include gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm or serious or widespread offence’.
The ASA explains that while it is not inherently problematic for ads to feature people with stereotypical characteristics undertaking stereotypical roles, it does go against the new rules if the stereotype is uniquely associated with one gender, the only option available to one gender, or it is never carried out by another gender.
There have been some fantastic campaigns over the last year breaking down gender stereotypes. One of the most memorable is Nike’s #dreamcrazier and #justdoit movement, which built on the success of the advert ‘Dream Crazier.’
The ad, which features tennis legend Serena Williams, calls out the double-standards around how female athletes are described when showing emotion and how their ambitions are called crazy until they achieve it.
Nike used this ad as its launching point. On its social media, Nike started to showcase female sports t
eams and athletes, both professional and amateurs. One team they showcased was The Honeybeez, a plus-size dance team for Alabama State University, whose motto is “Be bold, be beautiful, be you.”
At TAKUMI we are also always looking for ways to make sure that our campaigns are both diverse and break stereotypes for all genders. This year we collaborated with ‘Pampers’ to show that men also play a very active role in parenting and can change nappies too.
The campaign ran in celebration of Father’s Day with the hashtag #Happyfathersway. The images featured fathers cooking, reading with their kids, playing as princesses and managing the chaos of bedtime.
As an industry, we have become more aware of how we portray female beauty but less thought has been put into how male beauty and grooming products are advertised and what impact they may be having.
Research conducted by the ASA found that whilst thinness and facial attractiveness wasn’t necessarily something that ads portrayed as desirable for men, the ads tended to focus on body ideals, and generally tend to project a perfect, toned, muscly torso as an ideal.
The bombardment of well-toned men with six-packs, which young boys are exposed to in most male product ads, is humorously captured in the opening sequence of Lynx’s Find your Magic ad.
The ad begins with two-toned male models being projected onto buildings and the narrator then asking “Come on a six-pack?”. It then goes on to encourage young men to find the unique thing that makes them interesting and attractive.
The Lynx ad is light-hearted, but it captures a serious issue. When you search on social media, for body-positive campaigns, there is a growing number depicting a variety of women’s bodies but very few for men.
One company that has sought to change that is Men of Manual, a men’s wellness website. They ran a campaign about how men should not hate their bodies and created posts of men in their underwear showcasing diverse models with different body types.
There are currently no strong ASA guidelines or rules around advertising male beauty and grooming products. But the ASA has warned that with the increasing popularity of the products, there are likely to be complaints soon about advertising material.
They recommend that brands looking to make beauty and grooming ads for men be mindful of advertising responsibly, and ensure that their ads do nothing to exploit any underlying insecurities.
Social responsibility should be a priority, for all brands and marketers, as this approach can help to increase awareness both for a brand and the brand’s image. It is also in everyone’s interest to live in a fairer and more open society.
If you would like to learn more about socially responsible campaigns please get in touch as together we can help you break these stereotypes.