Is there a future for brands who do not embrace 50:50 filmaking?
It’s hard to ignore the powerful cultural shift in mot ion in the advertising and filmmaking worlds in 2018. In every part of the closely associated industries, there’s been increasingly vocal demand for better representation, diversity and new voices - both in front of and behind the camera. A new era of influence.
Take Free The Bid securing commitment from the likes of Twitter and Coca-Cola to include at least one female director for all pitch rounds, or Riz Ahmed’s speech to the UK Parliament on diversity, which praised the Channel 4 “Superhumans” campaign.
In his speech, Ahmed points out that, as creatives, “we’re here to represent” - and this is one of the key issues with the lack of diverse representation in the people making the films we all see every day: the pool of talent crafting them is sadly unrepresentative of the audience they’re made for.
For that reason, we decided to make such a lack of female representation the focus of our panel discussion at Huddle. Our panel, hosted by Campaign’s Trends Editor, Nicola Kemp, explored whether brands can remain relevant without aiming for equal representation behind the camera. It also asked what more can be done to champion female talent.
These are questions we desperately need to answer - and quickly. In Adland, in particular, the current statistics are hard to read - 93% of commercials are directed by men (Campaign); only 3% of ads feature women in leadership or professional roles. Is it any surprise given the dominance of the industry by men, that stats also show women are less likely to be authentically depicted in ads?
Just 1% of commercials show women as funny (source: Unilever); women are 48% more likely to be featured in the kitchen, are given four times less screen time and are seven times less likely to speak than men (source: JWT and the Geena Davis Institute).
And this lack of representation is bad for business - 85 percent of women say they are offended by lazy gender stereotypes (source: JWT and Geena Davis Institute). That’s 85% of half the population and, needless to say, buying power. In reality, the effect is even more detrimental to consumer brands’ appeal - 70-80% of consumer purchases are shown to be driven by women.
We work with incredible male directors every day, but we also often see that incredible female directors are under-represented (if they are represented at all) on traditional pitch lists for branded content and advertising jobs.
There’s a huge pool of female talent in the filmmaking industry, and the status quo is not bringing those women to the fore. We need to change that. We believe the only way to represent, and for brands to stay relevant and have influence on the next generation of women, is to aim for equal representation of brilliant male and female talent behind the camera in the creative pipeline.
If nothing else (and there are plenty of other good reasons!), upping the amount of female talent in production will ensure brands have authentic conversations with women through advertising.
We need to see more stories by women, about women and told by women. A study of over 40,000 ads and media programmes found that 29% of women are still being negatively or inaccurately portrayed through advertising (source: ANA #SeeHer). That desperately needs to change. With trust in advertising at an all-time low (source: Edelman), brands need to do more to connect more authentically with consumers.
We’re already seeing huge advertising heavyweights like P&G and Unilever committing themselves to 50:50 filmmaking over the next few years, but we need to see a lot more brands following suit.
Their role is crucial. Brands can become agents of change by using creativity to accelerate gender equality. But they need to act, and act soon.
Their futures could depend on it.