Times up on gender inequality – Navigating gender in advertising

Any conversation on the topic of gender is a minefield these days. It requires an up to date point of view, a sense of compassion and a belief in equality for all. Either that or you risk the full wrath of the female population, their male allies, and anyone who’s rejected the gender binary code.

The Debate Topics Are Many

Inequality in pay between genders, a lack of female representation in leadership roles within the workforce, all the social pressures around bearing children or not bearing children.

But wait, there’s more…

Debates around the timing of a mothers return to work. The financial, physical and emotional strain of actually bearing a child. The very public and heated discussion about if and where a mother may breastfeed her child. These are just a few things that continue to be a reality for women in 2018. Combine these with centuries of male privilege, social gender bias and the overwhelming number of women who shared a #Metoo moment; it’s little surprise that late last year the collective female population joined in the battle cry “Times Up.” Times Up on gender inequality; it’s a movement that has gained a strong momentum very quickly.

What does this mean for advertising?

Whatever outcome the Times Up movement results in over the coming months and years, what does this mean to us in the world of advertising and communications now? Unless you wish to be the target of an unrelenting campaign of shaming and even brand boycott by a socially woke public, the topic of gender and equality must be treated with common sense, heart and a truly forward of-the-moment point of view.

It would be difficult to have missed the constant social media presence of Meghan Markle and her stance and actions for gender equality. At age eleven Meghan took Procter & Gamble to task for the offensive line “Women all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans” for a dishwashing liquid commercial. The line in that commercial reinforced negative gender stereotypes and the perception that women were primarily responsible for household chores. It was deemed only slightly offensive at the time. Ultimately the line was changed to “People all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans” – a win for gender equality.

You could also say it was a win for Meghan who has morphed from a somewhat successful actress/female rights advocate to an official “Advocate for Political Participation and Leadership” for the United Nations/Newlywed Royal. The moral of this story is apparently if you want to kiss a prince you must be an advocate for gender equality.

Just Be Respectful

Even if the kiss of a Prince doesn’t motivate you, perhaps remaining within the agreed ad standards set by the Advertising Standards Bureau and delivering socially relevant communications and campaigns that avoid any gender equality pitfalls will?

If so, be sure to keep Cuckoo in mind – respect is one of our core values. We apply our heads and our hearts to strategy, to deliver market-leading informed outcomes.