Research from that global behemoth of marketing and branding, Unilever, has found that nearly one in two people from marginalised communities – people with disabilities, and Black, Hispanic, Asian, and LGBTQ+ people – feel they have been stereotyped in some way through advertising. And that 71% of all punters surveyed believe that stereotypes in media are harming the younger generation. To address this, Unilever is broadening its commitment to its 2016 Unstereotype initiative, going even deeper to make real, structural changes to the entire marketing process, not just the more high-profile advertising component. It aims to provoke and integrate more diverse and inclusive thinking across every brand – from new product development through to advertising production. Among its bolder commitments is an undertaking to eradicate any digital alterations to photography, with a 100% ban on changing models’ body shape, size, proportion, or skin colour.
Comment: We are in the midst of a profound cultural shift. Brands that recognise this and act on it sincerely and at scale will retain the loyalty of an increasingly vigilant young consumer.