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WACL partners with Snap, YouTube and Pinterest to launch important campaign calling for better representation of all women in advertising

by | Jun 4, 2024

The campaign, created in collaboration with Billion Dollar Boy, features four renowned creators in conversation, talking candidly about why representation matters to them and their communities. 

Women in Advertising, Communications and Leadership

Women in Advertising, Communications and Leadership

June 4th 2024, New York, US: Women in Advertising, Communications and Leadership (WACL), in collaboration with influencer marketing agency Billion Dollar Boy, is today launching a critically important new creative campaign as part of its ongoing Represent Me initiative. The purpose of the campaign is to amplify WACL’s purpose, which is to accelerate gender equality in our industry. 

There is an increasing body of evidence from multiple sources, including IPSOS’s A Woman’s Worth, System 1’s Feeling Seen and the Geena Davis Institute, that shows that women still do not feel accurately represented in advertising. Even though, as the findings of the Unstereotype Alliance State of the Industry report shows, there is a persistent need to recognise the intersectionality of women and take action to support all forms of diversity, including race, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and age, women still do not feel, and statistically aren’t, represented in advertising. It’s time we, as an industry, changed this. 

This new creative campaign is a vital and powerful collaboration between WACL, Billion Dollar Boy, Snapchat, YouTube and Pinterest, and four prominent female voices in the creator industry. These women were intentionally invited to lend their voices to the campaign because they are part of the growing industry of storytellers and creators who truly represent the breadth and depth of modern women. They speak authentically with their community, curating and leading valuable conversations about how all women want to be represented in both advertising and society. 

Through Represent Me, WACL is urging the advertising industry to take immediate action when it comes to the representation of all kinds of women in advertising, both in front of the camera and behind the scenes. Because, despite women still wanting better representation in their work, data around gender equality in society as a whole shows that progress is far from inevitable.

This latest creative campaign builds on that of last year, when WACL released its first public piece of work designed to highlight the importance of positive gender representation in advertising on young girls and their future possibilities. It also builds on the ongoing work being done by WACL’s partners, the Unstereotype Alliance, ISBA and the Advertising Association.

This year’s campaign calls on everyone, both within the industry and outside of it, to be part of this conversation, to champion a more positive and authentic representation of all kinds of women and bring about a new era of change. 

Because, as WACL asserts, it is critical that representation is viewed as a progressive and enduring project, one that needs to flex and adapt to changing behaviours, ambitions and beliefs.

The four female creators represent a few of the many diverse and powerful communities of women that WACL wants to see better represented in advertising. Each is lending their voice to this campaign to champion a variety of causes. Trina Nicole is a body confidence influencer and founder of the UK’s first plus size dance class; Ellen Jones is a writer, speaker and activist for Neurodiversity and LGBQT+; Jamelia Donaldson is the founder and CEO of TreasureTress and a woman transforming the natural hair care landscape; and Lucy Edwards is a broadcaster, journalist, author and Disability Activist making a remarkable difference to her community and to brand behaviour.

All four creators were asked by Selma Nicholls and Chloe Davies from the WACL Represent Me committee, ‘What does representation in advertising mean to you?’ They were then invited to  sit down together for an in-person conversation to unpack and explore the topic. This conversation has been pulled into a longer-form piece of film, plus short clips, all of which are available to watch here. 

A team led by Jessica Lenehan at EssenceMediacomX, an agency built to create breakthroughs for brands in the new communications economy, supported WACL by planning and activating paid advertising credits generously supplied by Pinterest, Snapchat and YouTube to help WACL reach marketing and advertising professionals with this important message.

Represent Me is a movement, not a moment, designed to celebrate the recent progress that has been made in the advertising industry while also asking everyone in the industry to hold themselves to account and do better. The initiative is also designed to look ahead to the next 100 years of WACL and the wider future of the advertising industry.

For media enquiries please contact Propeller Group on wacl@propellergroup.com 

Look out for WACL at Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity this year as it will urge the industry to pledge to measure, both the variety and number of women represented and the progress achieved. WACL will remind the industry of the commercial benefit that comes from measuring not just the presence of women but the progress of them too. 

WACL is challenging the industry to engage in consistent measurement, so the organisation can track progress across the industry. To use the data of yesterday to help drive a new era of change.

There are multiple resources available for the industry to refer to to better the representation of women in advertising, to challenge themselves to effectively measure a business’s progress and urge others around them to do the same.

Nishma Patel Robb, President of WACL, said, “The representation of women in advertising is still disgracefully inadequate. We, as an industry, are not taking this issue seriously enough. Together, we must drive a new era of change. This creative campaign demonstrates the breadth of real women and their stories, showing audiences every woman matters. Seeing the world through the eyes of these creators, all of whom have amassed a significant following, is proof that audiences want to hear from women like these. 

As an industry we shouldn’t just be reflecting; we should be leading and shaping as well. This is what we at WACL are doing through our ongoing Represent Me initiative, continually reminding the industry of the importance of better representing all kinds of women in advertising. Because this matters. The impact of women seeing themselves be truly themselves, rather than acting under a pre-ordained system cannot be underestimated. When progress for women is slowing or stagnating, our industry has a role to play to reflect a greater breadth of female role models in order to drive progress. Because positive representation, as these four fabulous creators show, really does matter. We all know that by now.”

Becky Owen, Global CMO at Billion Dollar Boy said, “This campaign matters because creators are pushing our industry forward. Through the audiences they’ve built, they’ve realised the need for greater representation and their own power to challenge the status quo and demand better for all women in advertising. Creator marketing has put new voices, diverse voices and representative voices at the heart of our industry. It’s even more incredible because they’re doing it independently – their names and their faces are driving the change – and with that comes a responsibility and a vulnerability unlike any other. Yet, there’s still much work ahead. Representation must be a marketing priority. Not all women are seen yet, or are only seen in small numbers. This campaign celebrates the progress made, while urging us to keep pushing forward.”

Kate Bird, EMEA Senior Marketing Director at Snap Inc said, “We are thrilled to be part of this initiative with WACL because the representation of women in the adverts and content we watch is so important, if women from all walks of life are to be understood, seen and heard. It’s also vital that we measure representation on a regular basis. As society evolves and our thinking with it, the advertising industry must keep up in order to create relevant work that resonates.”

Milka Privodanova, VP, Head of EMEA at Pinterest said, “At Pinterest, our mission is to bring everyone the inspiration to create a life they love, and we believe you can’t feel inspired unless you feel included and represented. We are proud supporters of WACL’s Represent Me campaign which highlights the important work our industry needs to do to ensure more women feel seen in advertising.” 

Alison Lomax, MD of YouTube UK and Ireland said, “YouTube’s mission is to give everyone a voice and show them the world. Everyone deserves to have a voice and the world is a better place when we listen, share and build community through our stories. That’s why WACL’s Represent Me campaign speaks to the values of YouTube and how these creator stories can champion change.”

Creator Lucy Edwards said: “It’s been really exciting to be involved in this Represent Me campaign because it’s an issue really close to my heart. I want people who are going through what I went through to be able to have someone in the public eye to see and relate to. Over 10 years ago, when I did my first YouTube video, I was sitting there in my bedroom Googling blindness and nothing came up. I felt like I wanted to be that Google result for someone.”

Creator Ellen Jones said: “I’m still yet to see my full experience represented on a major platform, which is interesting to me because almost every autistic person I know is also queer. We all walk around with these preconceived notions about how things are, but representation can disrupt this by saying, ‘there is another way’. When I was asked to take part in the Represent Me campaign I was really delighted because I knew I’d be partnering with an organisation that wouldn’t expect me to shrink parts of myself for a campaign, something I’ve had to do in the past.”

Creator Trina Nicole said: “Representation isn’t just about being seen. It can really shape your sense of belonging, self-worth and understanding of your place in this world. It’s almost like getting a nod that says, ‘hey, you matter!’. With the work I do, celebrating diverse bodies within fitness, I’d like to think I’m contributing to the prevention of harmful stereotypes and biases. By partnering with WACL, my hope is to have more campaigns that authentically reflect the diversity of people’s experiences, bodies and identities and move away from tokenistic representation.”

Creator Jamelia Donaldson said: “There’s a pervasive lack of understanding and appreciation for the unique perspectives and experiences that diverse creators bring to the table. This can result in our contributions being seen as mere diversity checkboxes rather than valued for their inherent worth. Through this partnership with WACL, I hope to shine a light on these challenges and work towards solutions that promote greater inclusivity and equity. By amplifying diverse voices, providing meaningful support and resources and fostering genuine appreciation for the richness of our experiences, we can move closer to creating a society where everyone can thrive.”

About WACL

Women in Advertising and Communications, Leadership (WACL) is a membership organisation whose purpose is to accelerate gender equality in the advertising and communications industries. Founded in 1923, our membership currently comprises nearly 300 senior women drawn from client organisations, agencies, media owners and trade bodies.

About Billion Dollar Boy

Billion Dollar Boy (BDB) is a global creator agency, using industry-leading tech solutions to deliver integrated, creator-led advertising and end-to-end campaign management. Founded in 2014 by Edward East, alongside co-founders Thomas Walters and Permele Doyle, Billion Dollar Boy was among the first global influencer agencies and now has offices in London, New York and New Orleans. Since its inception, BDB has partnered with some of the world’s leading brands – including Heineken, King, Nintendo, PepsiCo and L’Oréal – connecting them with more than 10,000 vetted content creators. BDB client campaigns have been awarded at the Cannes Lions, Influencer Marketing Awards, Webby Awards, Shortys, The Drum Awards and Adweek.

About Snap Inc.

Snap Inc. is a technology company. We believe the camera presents the greatest opportunity to improve the way people live and communicate. We contribute to human progress by empowering people to express themselves, live in the moment, learn about the world, and have fun together. The company’s three core products are Snapchat, a visual messaging app that enhances your relationships with friends, family, and the world; Lens Studio, an augmented reality platform that powers AR across Snapchat and other services; and its AR glasses, Spectacles. For more information, visit www.snap.com

Bulldog Reporter
Bulldog Reporter is a leader in media intelligence supplying news, analysis and high-level training content to public relations and corporate communications professionals with the mission of helping these practitioners achieve superior competitive performance.

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