In a new campaign, Unstereotype, global firm Unilever has pledged to remove sexist stereotypes from its own ads.
This is no small thing. The firm spends £6bn (thats almost $11 billion in Australian dollars) a year on advertising making Unilever the second-biggest advertiser in the world.
More that two years of research revealed that almost all women (90%) felt they were presented as sex symbols and almost a third (30%) said adverts showed women as perceived by a man.
“If we looked at role, personality and appearance, then they weren’t representing women as they are today. Some of the imagery might have been current years ago, but it certainly wasn’t today,” chief marketing officer Keith Weed told the BBC.
But what does this have to do with surfing? I think Mr Weed’s comment says it all… If we looked at role, personality and appearance, then they weren’t representing women as they are today.
Women are the fastest growing demographic in the surf industry and yet how much of today’s advertising imagery illustrates that? When you see an ad for surf wear, how often is the woman in the image actually surfing? How often do you see a woman that isn’t a size 8? A woman of colour? An older woman?
Every day, I am reminded of how women’s surfing is both inclusive and incredibly diverse. Unilever is calling on other companies to follow suit and change ‘unstereotype’ their advertising. I hope that the surf companies are listening.