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MediaPost reports that Unilever "wants the advertising industry to stop demeaning women" and is "calling for all of its brands and the industry at large to advance advertising away from stereotypical portrayals of gender." Indeed, "Several of Unilever’s partner agencies have already confirmed that they will be adopting this new approach including BBH, 72andSunny, JWT, DDB, MullenLowe and Ogilvy."

The story says that "Unilever has carried out multiple in-depth studies to better understand how female identity has evolved and how brands can be more relevant and better connected," and has concluded that "some 40% of women don't identify with women they see in advertisements suggesting the need for 'progressive representation." This means taking a more enlightened approach to how women are depicted in terms of their roles, personalities and appearances.

"Advertising can be a powerful force in leading positive cultural change," Aline Santos, EVP global marketing for Unilever, said at an ad conference. "We believe it is our responsibility, alongside the industry, to be at the forefront of this change by positively portraying people as they truly are today – progressive ads will lead us to a progressive future for all.” 

It isn't just ads for and about women that are being affected by this new mindset. MediaPost writes that new advertising for Unilever's Axe brand is shifting "away from its risqué frat boy humor to portray the modern, relevant, genuine world of attraction, where 'the true magic that happens between two equals'."
KC's View:
How nice it would be if we lived in a world where people and companies did not need to make themselves feel better by demeaning people they do not understand or appreciate. But we don't live in that kind of world, which is why Unilever is to be commended for being public about its refreshed approach to advertising and marketing.

It is something that Unilever has some experience with, since celebrating differences rather than demeaning them has long been the approach the company has taken with its Dove brand. Glad to see that the enlightenment is spreading.