Marketers, Are You Taking Gender Representation Seriously?


Gender roles and identity have fluctuated in the public eye a lot in the last few years. As perspectives are continuing to shift and evolve in the “real world,” so too must perspectives change for brands. The average consumer isn’t taking the same outdated ideas to heart – they are more conscious and informed than ever. In response, brands are beginning to take notice, are trying to hear and understand, and are making necessary changes to implement more inclusive and representative branding.

Let’s look at it this way:

“From a statistical standpoint, 50% of millennials feel that gender is on a spectrum, and 56% of Gen Z’ers know someone who uses gender-neutral pronouns.” – Andy Bossly

So, is your brand making the effort to accurately represent and being wholly inclusive? A Marketing Dive article we recently soaked up helps explain why companies should take another close look at gender representation, and how it can be made possible with the use of amazing marketing technology. Here’s a sampling of the piece:

While there may be a swell of support, ads that break with a male-female mold are exceptionally rare. Part of that might stem from marketers’ fear of backlash from either side of the political aisle — conservative viewers in favor of traditional gender representation and also progressives sensitive to ensuring people are accurately and tastefully portrayed. In the latter case, panelists said it’s more of a learning process than a crucible.

“The language is evolving […] don’t get stuck with the language, keep up as best you can,” Shane Whalley, the owner of Daring Dialogues Consulting and an adjunct assistant professor at The University of Texas at Austin, said. “The other really important piece is that if you make a mistake, which we all do, just stay in those conversations and listen to the community.”

One example of an ad depicting gender fluidity that earned praise was Coca-Cola’s Super Bowl TV spot from this year, which used they/them pronouns. Though the creative calls this out, it does so without distracting from Coke’s broader messaging, which has always been about optimism, according to Bossley.

“It all laddered into their existing brand platform that they’ve had for over 130 years,” he said. “It made sense — it didn’t feel like an outlier for them.”

However, if the appeal of gender fluidity in advertising does grow for marketers like Coke, it’s important for them to be especially mindful of actually embodying inclusivity beyond what’s presented to consumers.

“Let’s say you do a great campaign and I feel seen. I’m going to go to your company’s website, look up your non-discrimination policy and see if it’s inclusive,” Whalley, who identifies as genderqueer, said. “The inside-out piece is really important.”

Read the rest of the article on Marketing Dive here >>

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