JB

Campaign Middle East - - NEWS -

Oh, wow. I don’t sup­pose you have any idea just how many bi­ases, prej­u­dices, un­ques­tioned as­sump­tions and hid­den in­se­cu­ri­ties you’ve man­aged to bun­dle into this sad lit­tle ques­tion. Let me un­pick a few.

You take it as es­tab­lished fact that, un­til now, as a male, you’ve en­joyed an un­fair ad­van­tage over women of equiv­a­lent abil­i­ties. Ex­cept that you clearly didn’t think it was in any way un­fair. The birthright of the male an­i­mal, per­haps?

You im­plic­itly con­cede that any ca­reer suc­cess you may have en­joyed so far has been in part thanks to an ac­ci­dent of gen­der. You have so lit­tle faith in your own in­her­ent skills that, if stripped of this un­mer­ited ad­van­tage, you fear for your fu­ture. And your fear is not based on the be­lief that, any minute now, all women will sud­denly be­gin to en­joy the un­fair ad­van­tages that have hith­erto been the pre­rog­a­tive of men. By ask­ing “Are the ta­bles turn­ing?”, you make it clear that if the es­tab­lished dis­crep­ancy sim­ply be­gins to close – if men and women be­gin to be treated with ab­so­lute equal­ity – you’ll be at a dis­ad­van­tage.

Given all the above, the bru­tal truth is that you prob­a­bly will be. And that won’t be the women’s fault.

Now that you know what it feels like, you may have a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of why In­ter­na­tional Women’s Day and all those other ir­ri­tat­ing ini­tia­tives were not only nec­es­sary but long over­due. (And In­ter­na­tional Men’s Day isn’t un­til 19 Novem­ber.) Dear Jeremy, My ad­ver­tis­ing agency has just un­veiled an ex­pen­sive TV cam­paign it has made for my brand. But, as soon as I saw it, I re­alised it de­picts women as clichéd stereo­types. It would cost a for­tune to can it now but, not only do I find it per­son­ally of­fen­sive, it could at­tract criticism of my brand. Any ad­vice? It’s some time since I worked in an agency but, as I re­mem­ber, it was the cus­tom for clients to for­mally ap­prove de­tailed scripts be­fore they were com­mit­ted to pro­duc­tion. How easy it is to get out of touch: I hadn’t re­alised that clients now saw com­mer­cials for the first time in fin­ished form.

You do, how­ever, have a way out of this po­ten­tially ex­pen­sive predica­ment.

I as­sume that the clichés are all in the pic­tures – and, as many fa­mous ex­per­i­ments have demon­strated, it’s quite as­ton­ish­ing how pre­cisely the same pic­tures can evoke to­tally dif­fer­ent emo­tions when set to very dif­fer­ent sound­tracks. Depend­ing on the mu­sic, the iden­ti­cal footage of a young cou­ple walk­ing hand-in-hand at twi­light either tells you that they are deeply in love – or that he’s about to stran­gle her.

Ask your agency to amend the sound­track – a rel­a­tively in­ex­pen­sive busi­ness – so that the pic­tures are clearly seen to be ironic.

Your brand will be widely praised for ridi­cul­ing stereo­types and your agency will win a Lion.

Next time, though, do please make sure you ask to see a shoot­ing script be­fore sign­ing off the pro­duc­tion budget. No. But nei­ther should you sneer. Just be­cause most new job ti­tles turn out to be as empty as they first ap­pear doesn’t mean they all do. Reg­is­ter this ap­point­ment and keep a keen, re­spect­ful eye on your big­gest com­peti­tor’s num­bers. If you haven’t got a mole in­stalled in its ranks, lis­ten out for the gos­sip.

I don’t think you’ll need a so­cial in­flu­encer, but then I don’t sup­pose you knew you’d need a chief dig­i­tal of­fi­cer. ( Which, on sec­ond thoughts, you prob­a­bly didn’t.)

Add! What a give­away. “New Bur­grips! Now with added au­then­tic­ity!”

If you can’t find it in the brand’s his­tory, don’t try to buy some in. It’ll be as in­con­gru­ous as a cop­per ket­tle in a sushi bar.

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