21st century brands: breaking stereotypes

October 1, 2019

Sammy Martin, copywriter at brand communications agency Projector, delves into the subject of gender-neutral marketing and why brands must work harder than ever before to pave the way for a more inclusive future

Children’s toys, cars, laundry detergent, yoghurt – the list of everyday products that have fallen victim to gender stereotyping in advertising is endless.

But traditional assumptions around gender are being challenged and our attitudes towards inclusivity are changing more than ever before. Fashion is no longer targeted at a particular gender. Skincare and cosmetics are bought by everybody, not only women. Blue isn’t just for boys and pink isn’t just for girls.

Naturally, this significant cultural shift is changing the way brands communicate with their audience. In most cases, what worked for a brand 10 or 20 years ago wouldn’t work today. And that’s because, as we move towards a more inclusive future, people have simply come to expect more.

On June 14 this year, the ASA introduced an official ban on ads that portray ‘harmful’ gender stereotypes. In that short time, two television adverts – one for Volkswagen and the other for Philadelphia – have already been banned for falling foul of the new rules. Lazy gender stereotypes may have once achieved quick wins for campaigns but, with the ASA’s ban now firmly in place, brands will need to work harder, think smarter and be more creative about how they communicate with their consumers than ever before.

There’s no doubt that Generation Z also has a big role to play in the shake-up. Innovation Group stats show that only 44 per cent of 13 to 20-yearolds always buy clothes intended for their own gender, and an overwhelming 85 per cent agree that gender doesn’t define a person as much as it used to. Is it time for us to sit up and take note from our audience of tomorrow?

As an integrated agency, we constantly push our clients to challenge their ideas and think differently to ensure they not only remain creative but also current. Through the powerful application of targeted research, strategy and insight, we focus on understanding how a brand fits in with its audience’s lifestyles and how we can deliver an authentic brand experience that speaks to real people and their 21st century needs.

Being responsible with gender marketing is all part of a much wider brand strategy too. Research shows that consumers are more likely to support a brand who they think are ‘doing good’ and embracing socially-conscious marketing. And it’s clear to see that successful brands are catching on to that notion: Sport England with their This Girl Can campaign, John Lewis with their genderneutral clothing range, and even Kleenex, who chose to rebrand their ‘Mansize’ products after succumbing to growing public demand to change the “discriminatory” name.

The simple fact of it is that society is changing. And as we move towards a more gender-neutral way of life, brands need to keep up with the pace or risk being left behind. Investing in professional help can be an invaluable element of building a successful future for your brand. As specialists in the field, our team can help you to clarify what your brand stands for and how you can deliver a meaningful experience that resonates with your audience in today’s – and tomorrow’s – climate.

To find out more about Projector’s strategic and creative branding services and how the team could help your business, contact Sammy or Phil on 0191 265 2400 or info@yourprojector.com

– Advertising feature –

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