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shEqual launches 'Commercial Breakdown' campaign to help end sexist ads

How do you make an ad for the ad industry? It's not easy, but the talented folk at shEqual and The Open Arms have done it.

The new campaign, featuring Aussie comedians Alex Lee and Lewis Garnham, shines a light on gender stereotypes that still persist in advertising and the harm they cause to our communities. 

It's mind boggling that in the midst of Australia’s current crisis of violence against women, advertisers continue to broadcast harmful stereotypes about masculinity. Advertising continues to be highly influential in shaping society

and – importantly – men’s’ attitudes and behaviours towards women.

But it isn't just women's portrayals we get wrong. Research indicates 2 in 3 men believe there is a mismatch between how they feel about success and how advertising portrays it (the 2023 Price of Success report studied 4,000 men in the UK & US. It showed that for most men, winning isn’t everything, and advertising makes them feel worse about themselves). This is just one scenario.

Says Lauren Zappa, Manager Gender Equity and Capacity Building, Women’s Health Victoria: ‘The average Australian is exposed to thousands of ads a day, so what happens in those ads matters. That’s because advertising is a powerful multi-billion-dollar industry that exists only to influence us.'

'We want to give people the tools to challenge gender stereotypes and to support brands that promote authentic, respectful, and diverse portrayals of all Australians.'

Perhaps the most useful part of the campaign is a simple one-page breakdown of 'The Basics', an evidence based tool for ending sexism in ads (pictured). You can also download it for free here.

Commercial Breakdown encourages Australians to have a conversation about the harmful gender stereotypes they see in ads, and to support brands and agencies to create ads that contribute to a better Australia.

The campaign's Creative Director, founder of The Open Arms Jess Lilley told AdWeek: “shEqual is encouraging people in the industry who are passionate about diversity and representation to share Commercial Breakdown within their agencies to start conversations around how they can do better in terms of creating more authentic gender representation in ads."

Hear, hear.

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