By Kate Morgan
Stereotypes are rife in advertising, even in today’s seemingly progressive world. They come in one shape and one size only and thus create an unobtainable version of ‘perfect’ or ‘normal’. Advertisers sometimes unwittingly promote this kind of confidence-crushing illusion and the images can then enter our homes, our places of work, and many other aspects of our daily life. These gender, racial and cultural stereotypes inevitably encourage ignorance, alienation, and self-doubt.
The world is changing and the world of advertising needs to change with it. People are far more complex, and their responses to media far more nuanced, than a list of marketing statistics will reveal. Here at Pili-Pala we want to promote businesses and products whilst simultaneously promoting equality.
With our first online campaign launched to break stereotypes in advertising we decided to concentrate primarily on those that focus on gender. We wanted to use an ordinary image that is something you can find every day, and isn’t just a typical fashion photo. We used a male model to highlight that stereotypes affect both genders, and not just women. When considering the issue of gender stereotypes, many automatically focus on the depiction of women in the media.
This is certainly a concern and changes obviously need to be made, but we felt it was important to raise the issue of stereotypes that target men. Men are equally susceptible to self-doubt and self-loathing because of the continual projection of a rigid and linear concept of male identity in society.
The photo is simply a man in a skirt, taking a walk through Roath Park with a book in his hands. In its simplicity lies its power, and we wanted to avoid making the image garish or cheap. It is an image that fits well in this popular location for students who can be seen on any day doing the same thing, walking along with a book in hand.
This campaign is not about showing off that we’re making a statement, it’s about progressing to the point where advertising like this is the new ‘normal’. Where gender has no boundaries and people are beautiful in every shape and every size. That’s the normal we’re going for at Pili-Pala.
The campaign has also given us a fantastic opportunity to work with some wonderful people. Rhys Simmons is the face of our campaign and was generous, and bold enough, to take time from his busy modelling schedule to take part in helping us to break stereotypes. He is an absolute pleasure to work with and has an extremely professional approach to his work. We also had the chance to work with Empire Collective Photography and the talented Charles Gibbs. We are extremely impressed with what he was able to produce for us and he is truly a very skilled photographer. Our gratitude to them both for donating their time and energy to helping us with our campaign to break stereotypes.
It’s been an exciting endeavour and a great start to our online campaign. It’s time to make a change in advertising, promote positive images, and break the stereotypes that cloud the industry.
Here’s to the start of something beautiful!