On 25 October, Ms Christelle Delarue, founder and CEO of Mad&Women advertising company, gave a talk on “Fighting Gender Stereotypes through Innovative Solutions with ‘Feminist Advertising’” for Gender Views at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.
Through the perspective of the private sector, and in particular the advertising industry, Ms Delarue described what it means to work for feminist advertising, and how the advertising industry can become a strong ally to advocate for gender equality through the media.
Ms Delarue explained that although women represent the biggest emerging market in the world - women influence 85% of the global economy - 91% of them still feel that advertisers do not understand them. One of the reasons for this phenomenon is that only 3% of creative directors in the world are women. Mad&Women fights against gender stereotypes to make sure women feel represented, respected and empowered through the media.
In today’s media, women have 48% more chance of being represented in their kitchen, while 82% of experts roles in advertising are filled by men, including in some ads that seem to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment. To fight against these reductive and belittling stereotypes, Ms Delarue emphasized the need to end misrepresentation of women and to say no to “Femwashing”, defined as marketing tools stereotyping women to increase sales.
Ms Delarue noted that her approach can be defined as “Femvertising”, which is when advertisements employ pro-female talent, messages and imagery to empower women and girls thus delivering a positive social impact. The “Femvertising” concept has become a business interest for brands that have the courage to commit to real gender equality through their brand communication and within their companies.
Ms Delarue’s presentation was followed by a very interactive Q&A session with the audience. The questions touched upon whether Mad&Women can work with masculine industries, how to improve the visibility of this work outside the feminist circles and how education can change gender stereotypes.
For UNESCO’s Director for Priority Gender Equality, Ms Saniye Gülser Corat, the advertising industry being at the heart of the private sector, “it is crucial to identify and challenge gender stereotypes in advertising to promote women’s empowerment and gender equality”.