My former employer, Razorfish (now SapientRazorfish), won a digital marketing award for a fascinating ad/social media campaign they did for Dove, a subsidiary of Unilever.
The campaign used computer learning technology to flag when “sexist phrases” were used by media outlets to describe female athletes. As you might expect, the tech found a lot of sexist language in outlets like GQ, Playboy, TMZ, and Fox News. But it also found instances of sexist language at The New York Times, CBS News and other more reputable sources.
Once a sexist remark was found, the software would automatically broadcast the source and phases used on electronic billboards located on “multiple continents.” In addition, all the sexist offenses were collect in a database and presented on the dovehaveyoursay.com website.
At the website, users could tweet their opinions directly to the offending media outlet. Dove even started tweeting out the offenses as they found them on their account. Their followers retweeted like crazy, bringing further exposure to the offending companies.
In looking over the dovehaveyoursay website, I have to say I found a number of the sexist catches rather innocent to my ears. Saying a female athlete looks “beautiful” is something I’ve said before. But then, I’m a middle-aged, white male, so addressing my sensitivity to sexist language is part of the purpose of this SOCIAL CAMPAIGN. However, let’s not forget that the AD CAMPAIGN is directed toward potential customers of Dove products.
Holy hypocracy: Unilever, the owner of Dove, has exploited the same sexism in advertising that its Dove campaign condemns.
Unilever owns Axe after all, and Axe ads readily embrace sexism. This begs the question:
What would the sexist language offender database look like if it included ad copy?