Innovative campaign from nation’s largest advertisers aims to portray women and girls in a more accurate and equitable light in advertising and content by 2020
June 16, 2016, New York, NY — Despite the strides made in recent decades to accurately portray women and women’s issues in the media, an unconscious bias persists against women and girls in advertising, media, and programming. In response, the Association of National Advertisers Alliance for Family Entertainment (ANA AFE) is spearheading an initiative to address it, #SeeHer.
The mission of #SeeHer is to accurately portray all girls and women in media so that by 2020, they see themselves reflected as they truly are. (The 2016 Oxford Dictionary defines “accurately” as “in a way that is correct in all details.”)
The year 2020 commemorates the 100th anniversary of American women obtaining the right to vote. The goal of the initiative is to realize a 20-plus percent increase in the accurate portrayal of all girls and women by that time.
The White House has called out fixing the biased portrayal of women in media as critical to the country’s future. Through the #SeeHer initiative, national marketers are taking up the challenge, with innovative industry leaders such as Gail Tifford, Unilever North America vice president of media and digital engagement, and Shelley Zalis, CEO and founder of The Girl’s Lounge, a collaborative industry movement working to achieve equality and equal opportunity in the workplace.
The #SeeHer initiative was announced by Bob Liodice, CEO of the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), at the United State of Women Summit in Washington, D.C. More than 50 national marketers met yesterday at the White House to officially launch the effort.
“We know that media plays an enormous role in society and women are not accurately portrayed,” said Stephen Quinn, AFE chairman and one of the nation’s most-influential marketers. “A key step to meaningful progress is helping women and girls see themselves for who they really are by positively and proactively working in media. Whether ads or content, media wields enormous power in fostering change in society.”
Immediate elements of #SeeHer include:
- Encourage participating ANA AFE brands to review their ads and the ad development process for unconscious bias.
- Work with media partners to accurately portray girls and women within the content where their ads will be placed.
- Toolkits produced for marketers, ad agencies, media agencies, and content creators, with a scorecard for creating ads, content, and programming that accurately portray women and girls.
- Brands promote the #SeeHer hashtag to their consumers.
- A data-tracking Gender Equality Measure to identify best-in-class advertising and programming that supports girls and women.
- Starting in July, research partner ABX will begin publishing top-scoring ads on a weekly basis, and TiVo will publish top programs on a quarterly basis.
- A #SeeHer website where consumers can see the best ads and content that reflect the initiative’s message
- #SeeHer will be supported and spread at Girl’s Lounge events at major industry conferences.
The ANA AFE, a collective of the nation’s largest advertisers representing more than 500 family brands, is the industry’s foremost advocate for sophisticated, realistic, family-themed content on traditional and digital platforms. The group’s research shows that women make or influence 93 percent of food purchases and 85 percent of consumer purchases. More than nine out of ten vacation decisions are made or influenced by women and eight out of ten health care decisions. Millennial women in particular are attuned to gender bias in media.
“We know that the right advertising environment for women can improve ad effectiveness by as much as 30 percent,” said Liodice. “So there is a business imperative to truthfully and accurately portray women and girls. More importantly, it’s the right thing to do. Our role is to help brands come together to deliver the #SeeHer message and begin the process of transformative change in the marketing ecosystem. We’ll know that the job is done when every CMO and agency CEO associated with the ANA never produces an ad that diminishes the role of girls or women in our society.”
“We need to show our daughters that nothing is beyond their reach, and media can play a pivotal role in that effort,” added Tifford. “I am looking forward to 2020, when we celebrate the historic vote that gave American women full citizenship, with significantly more positive, aspirational role models for girls and women in media.”
“The AFE is taking a highly unique system-wide approach to driving progress behind our #SeeHer initiative. Personal leadership from marketers, agencies, and programmers are paramount to gaining scale and results. While we appreciate executives “cheering us on”, we really value the engaged executives who are personally driving change. To that end, our stretch goal is 100-plus engaged corporate partners by 2020,“ added Jim Bechtold, AFE co-executive director.
A coalition of advocacy partners inspired by the White House call to action will broaden the initiative’s impact. The Girls’ Lounge is a strategy partner who will work with brands to increase visibility of women and girls in a positive way throughout their advertising and media. “We need to be conscious of our unconscious biases and ensure the visibility of women and girls in media and advertising is authentic and inspiring because we believe if you can see her you can be her,” said Zalis.
“Gender equality is common sense, and we are pleased to be a resource for the creative community and the #SeeHer initiative,” said James P. Steyer, CEO of Common Sense, a child-centered media rating and advocacy organization accessed by 65 million users. “Media images and messages can impact children’s confidence, emotional health, and academic and eventual professional success. Through #SeeHer, Common Sense will further help parents, educators and content creators identify and promote media that can have a positive impact on our kids.”
“Every chief marketing officer who cares about women as part of their core target audience should care deeply about the #SeeHer initiative. Especially as Millennial females have exceptionally high levels of dissatisfaction with bias in the media and this will grow over time. Bottom line, we are forecasting the strongest business and brand reputation gains by brands who proactively address biases in both their advertising and programming placement choices,” concluded Quinn.
The creative campaign was created by Swirl, an independent San Francisco agency. Swirl is the AOR for the AFE.
About the ANA and AFE
The ANA (Association of National Advertisers) makes a difference for individuals, brands, and the industry by advancing the interests of marketers and promoting and protecting the well-being of the marketing community. Founded in 1910, the ANA provides leadership that advances marketing excellence and shapes the future of the industry. The ANA’s membership includes nearly 1,000 companies with 15,000 brands that collectively spend or support more than $300 billion in marketing and advertising annually. The membership is comprised of more than 700 client-side marketers and nearly 250 Associate Members, which include leading agencies, law firms, suppliers, consultants, and vendors. Further enriching the ecosystem is the work of the nonprofit Advertising Educational Foundation (AEF), an ANA subsidiary, which has the mission of enhancing the understanding of advertising and marketing within the academic and marketing communities.
ANA Alliance for Family Entertainment (AFE)
Supported by the ANA, the ANA AFE is a coalition of national advertisers with more than 500 family brands, whose members represent $20+ billion of U.S. television ad spend. With members including American Licorice, Campbell Soup Company, Chick-Fil-A, The Clorox Company, The Coca-Cola Company, Colgate-Palmolive, Corr-Jensen Inc., Crayola, FedEx, Georgia-Pacific, IBM, J.M. Smucker, Johnson & Johnson, Kimberly-Clark, PepsiCo, Post Foods, Procter & Gamble Co., Rich Products Corp., SC Johnson, Sensio, Six Flags, State Farm Insurance, Subway®, T-Mobile, TiVo, TracFone, Unilever, Verizon Wireless, Walmart, Weight Watchers, and Wendy’s, the group’s mission is to find, nurture, and support high-quality content the entire family can enjoy on multiple distribution platforms. Since its inception in 1998, the AFE has utilized its collective member strength to help bring to air more than 20 prime-time broadcast network television hits, kept innovative family content in the development pipeline, teamed with YouTube for the industry’s first family content partnership, and created the Search for America’s Newest Scriptwriter contest, the nation’s leading competition for storytellers of tomorrow. For more information visit www.anaafe.net.
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