When ads change, so does society

The launch of a business and advertising coalition in Turkey is running campaigns to overcome gender bias in ads and the media. The partnership with UN Women in Turkey and Reklamverenler Derneği, a national advertisers association, is challenging traditional roles with the Unstereotype Alliance.

Date: Monday, March 2, 2020

The Unstereotype Alliance Turkey chapter was launched in late 2019 as an action coalition of gender equality champions, advertisers, brands and companies. Photo: UN Women Turkey
The Unstereotype Alliance Turkey chapter was launched in late 2019 as an action coalition of gender equality champions, advertisers, brands and companies. Photo: UN Women Turkey

A coalition of advertisers in Turkey is countering advertising that perpetuates gender stereotypes. The alliance is proving to be a force for positive change by raising awareness of stereotypes among the public and creating ads that show progressive portrayals of men and women.

The Unstereotype Alliance Turkey chapter was launched in late 2019 as an action coalition of gender equality champions, advertisers, brands and companies. Convened by UN Women Turkey, the platform is led by Reklamverenler Derneği, a national advertisers association.

Adverts and media in Turkey often perpetuate stereotypes that show women shouldering the housework, fathers as “useless” in care work, and girls growing up to be teachers and boys as engineers. These portrayals influence and limit people’s choices, aspirations, and contribute to existing inequalities.

To eliminate harmful gender stereotypes in the advertising industry, the Alliance in Turkey fosters an unstereotyped culture within the business environment, with an emphasis on equality, diversity and inclusion practices.

The Unstereotype Alliance Turkey chapter ran a visual campaign in early 2020 with the concept that “When ads change, society changes.” It consisted of outdoor and digital billboards in malls in the country’s largest cities: Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir.

The campaign messages challenged traditional roles (from left): A bank’s ad for its 100th anniversary has a woman voice-over – when only 12 per cent of ads in Turkey are voiced by women . A man removes stubborn stains. A woman crosses treacherous terrain with her off-road 4x4 . A father and baby welcome the mother as she returns home from work.
The campaign messages challenged traditional roles (from left): A bank’s ad for its 100th anniversary has a woman voice-over – when only 12 per cent of ads in Turkey are voiced by women. A man removes stubborn stains. A woman crosses treacherous terrain with her off-road 4x4 . A father and baby welcome the mother as she returns home from work.

“The launch of the Alliance comes at a perfect time as UN Women and the world mark the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration in 2020, an historic event that laid out the global blueprint to end gender inequality,” says Mr. Dan Seymour, Director for Strategic Partnerships at UN Women.

“We are grateful for the partnership of Reklamverenler Dernegi in working with UN Women to bring us to this moment. We are encouraged by the strong and diverse group of core founding members of this national chapter,” adds Mr. Seymour.

Each region of the world reflects its own set of stereotypes. Reklamverenler Derneği, as the advertisers association in Turkey, is well placed for its collaboration with UN Women. It has long played an important part in fostering gender equality in ads in Turkey. It has supported gender equality scorecard research for Effie Awarded TV ads, promoted the inclusion of academia in the subject, and advanced special awards to recognize industry achievements in this field.

Unstereotype Alliance Turkey continues its efforts to drive real change in the lives of women, men, girls and boys.

The founding members of the alliance are Avon, Coca-Cola, Colgate-Palmolive, Eczacıbaşı Holding, Eti Gıda, Johnson&Johnson, Kantar Media, Koç Holding, P&G, Publicis Groupe, Unilever, Vodafone and WPP.