UN Women and Sexism in Searches

This morning I woke to a CNN special discussing women in the workplace and the evolving role of women in the world today. This theme reflects International Women’s Day which was celebrated this month on March 8. Notably, the United States is ranked #23 overall out of 136 countries in gender equality, according to the World Economic Forum 2013 Report. Clearly, the continuing debate over the emergence of women in business, politics and women’s rights advocacy remains a global issue.


In 2013, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, known as UN Women, launched a series of ads based on sexism in authentic autocomplete Google searches. Google autocomplete generates predicted searches based on “the search activity of users and the content of web pages indexed by Google.” Google autocompleted phrases including: “Women need to BE PUT IN THEIR PLACE,” “Women cannot BE TRUSTED,” “Women should STAY AT HOME,” and “Women shouldn’t HAVE RIGHTS.”

The alarming negativity and discrimination toward women in mainstream searches, from stereotyping to denial of rights, motivated the UN Women’s campaign by Memac Ogilvy & Mather Dubai. A woman working on the campaign stated, “the ads are shocking because they show just how far we still have to go to achieve gender equality.” UN Women utilized the blatant search sexism in the controversial ads to incite a global dialogue.


Though autocomplete adjusts slightly according to country, when I searched today, I experienced similar results: “Women need to SHUT UP,” “Women cannot HAVE IT ALL,” “Women should STAY AT HOME” and “Women shouldn’t VOTE.” I am horrified that mainstream searches reflect this sexism, and worse, feel guilty for never having noticed it before. I fear I am desensitized to the media sexism that surrounds me, yet I feel empowered by the UN Women ads that seek to encourage awareness, enlightenment and change.







Shift towards Social Media Advertising

The rapid adoption of social media is now a well-known fact.  With such large number of users on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, it is difficult for companies (especially consumer-oriented companies) to ignore social media as a marketing channel.

Source: http://www.mediabistro.com

Most consumer-oriented firms have established Facebook and Twitter accounts to listen and engage their customers. Some firms have also started advertising to customers on theses social platforms. A big driver for this shift was mobile, as mentioned in a previous post (Shift towards Mobile Advertising). Data from a recent Nielsen report: “The U.S. Digital Consumer Report”, states that almost half (47%) of smartphone owners visited social networks everyday in the last year, and the unique audience for social media smartphone apps increased 37%. The data also shows that the highest year-over-year increase of social media usage is on smartphones applications (compared to usage on computers and usage via smartphone browsers).  With more consumers embracing smartphones (approximately 75% penetration in the US.) and using social media on these devices, firm will follow suite to capture consumer’s attentions on these platforms.

Some eCommerce firms have even shortened the consumer journey by providing direct purchase options on their advertisements on social media. Brick-and-Mortar stores can also take advantage of social media on smartphones to target, engage and attract consumers who are within a specific geographic location into their stores.

I believe that we will start to see more firms moving towards advertising on social media and leveraging these platforms to create a path to purchase and even fulfillment.

A picture is worth a thousand words

Although there has been a significant reduction in the popularity of print media advertising, print media advertising is still a valuable marketing tool for reaching out a wider range of consumers who are not used to online media. Just as online media, there is a lot of information in a newspaper or magazine. How to create a powerful print advertisement which can capture consumers’ attention? An idea or message must be communicated simply and swiftly. One of the tips is to use a single, eye-catching visual to provide the central focus with humor. It is easier and unforgettable for consumers to keep the brand or the product in mind when thinking of interesting advertisements. The following are some examples.

1. Timotei Styling Mousse



Timotei Natural Style Hairspray, Gel, and Mousse were promoted in 2005 with an eye-catching portrait.


2. Chupa Chups Lollipops



From this advertisement, it clearly conveyed the main idea “sugar free” without any word. This simple picture also created an “aha” moment.


3. Utopolis, Group of cinemas



Referencing popular mass culture phenomena can be a highly creative and effective way for businesses to tap into consumers’ desire for familiarity.


4. WMF Knife

04_WMF Knife


From this advertisement, it is easy to memorize the feature of WMF knife: sharpness.


5. Olympus: Optical zoom


When you look at things through Olympus Binoculars, they get closer than you had ever imagined.

Although funny advertisements can attract attentions, humor is not a simple task. It is important to realize that humor is not universal. It varies from different culture. A global audience is, unfortunately, unlikely when it comes to humor. Humor in communications must transcend those local lines as best possible. Knowing your product or idea and its audience can avoid misuse of humor and improve the efficiency of your advertisement.

Advertising in the World Cup: Coca Cola

The FIFA world cup is one of the major sporting events taking place every 4 years around the world; the event represents an outstanding opportunity for global brands such as Coca Cola to launch worldwide advertising campaigns.

In 2010 (Last year a world cup was held) Coca Cola’s advertising budget reached 2.9 Billion Dollars; expenditure in print, radio, television and other advertisements are considered in such figure.

Less than 100 days away from Brazil’s 2014 World Cup opening ceremony (June 12th – July 13th) Coca Cola and other important brands are securing advertising spaces during such an important month; we will start to witness the launch of Coca Cola’s 2014 World Cup campaign in the upcoming weeks. 8 advertisers spending over $ 600 Million including Coca Cola have secured TV presence with Brazil’s leading TV broadcaster (Globo). According to Globo TV Marketing Director a $ 75 Million budget per advertiser equals 1,120 video insertions; including 451 30-second TV commercials amongst other advertising prints.

According to FIFA research more than 3.2 Billion people (46.4 % of the world’s population) watched live coverage for a minimum of one minute of 2010’s World Cup; without a doubt the World Cup is an event worth investing for brands with a global reach. Coca Cola’s World Cup campaign is not only interesting from a reach perspective but also due to the cultural considerations accounted when tailoring such a global campaign to more narrow markets.






Amnesty International: Olympics Inspired Ads

PicPost9a PicPost9b

Amnesty International has historically used the Olympics as an opportunity to demand improved human rights reform. As the above Amnesty International ads from Hungary for Beijing 2008 and France for Sochi 2014 demonstrate, the Olympics affords the host country significant global media exposure and criticism.

The first ad was created by DDB Budapest, showing a terrified Chinese athlete at the starting line with his coach pointing a gun to his head. The slogan reads “Stop the World Record of Executions” and underscores that despite the 2008 Beijing Olympics, we must not forget the ongoing human rights violations in China. The ad was negatively received by the China Society for Human Rights Studies, a government front organization which said the advertisements were aimed to “smear” China and disrupt social progress. Amnesty International responded that perhaps the ads were too violent, but the message remains.

The second ad was by La Chose agency for Amnesty International in France, depicting a Russian “Matryoshka” doll as a bullet to symbolize the country’s hidden political and social repression. The slogan “We must not let Russia’s charm hide its atrocities” emphasizes the continued need to pressure Russia to stop its commonplace censorship, racism, murders etc.

Clearly, both ads reflect the power of the Olympics to make host countries vulnerable to attacks and to generate significant awareness of their human rights failures. Advertising is about the art of timing, emotion and cultural relevance, and here Amnesty International has delivered.

Technology transformed the way Koreans shop

Improvement of technology has changed consumers’ behaviors that drive companies to create new business models to react to consumers’ needs.

In South Korea, the two biggest retailers are E-Mart and Tesco Home Plus. Both of them implemented new models to provide customers more convenience to maintain or increase its market.

Tesco has been working on to beat E-Mart because it is the biggest retailer with a far greater number of locations than Tesco could hope to catch up with anytime soon. In 2011, the company thought of a smart solution to build virtual shops in subways, where were the main public transportations for commuters without cars. With huge billboard advertisement in some bigger subway stations, Tesco used QR code to build virtual shops. The process was as following:


(source: http://www.geek.com/mobile/koreas-tesco-reinvents-grocery-shopping-with-qr-code-stores-1396025/)

If your train came before your basket was complete, you could carry on shopping without the pictures and codes if you wished. Since Koreans’ pace was fast and busy with a strong preference to use time efficiently. This unique idea created a huge success. Their sales increased 130 per cent in three months, and their number of registered users went up by 76 per cent. They are now number one for online groceries and the gap between them and E-Mart has narrowed offline.

To maintain its leading position in Korea, E-Mart also used QR-code as a tool the next year. The “Sunny Sale Campaign “asked customers to install a shadow QR code using sunlight and shadow that only available from 12 pm to 1 pm. As a gift, the customers would get special offers, such as a $12 coupon. The result was a success. 12,000 coupons were distributed and membership had increased by 58%.

In 2013, E-Mart further built a “Flying Store” to bring its store to consumers. E-Mart created yellow balloons in the shape of the E-Mart truck with Wi-Fi routers inside of them into different parts of the city. It drew people’s attention and increased their interest to try the free Wi-Fi provided by the balloons. Once connected to the network, customers were able to download coupons from the app and apply them when making a purchase using the E-Mart mobile app. In the following month, downloads of E-Mart’s app rose to 50,000 and its mobile sales more than doubled. The sales in physical stores also increase of 9.5% driven by coupons downloaded from the balloons.

Shift towards mobile advertising

As a follow up to the post on the shift in advertising ~ the digital culture, we will take a look at advertising on mobile devices and the culture that drives growth in this category.

Firstly, the shift to digital has been driven by the adoption on mobile devices. However, most companies and brands are still slow to adopt and leverage the potential of mobile advertising. Referring the charts below, there is a huge growth potential for mobile advertising and firm that do not have a mobile strategy will become irrelevant very quickly.

Share_of_media_time_vs_share_of_total_ad_spend_n US-Consumer-Media-Consumption-Share-9-2-13

Secondly, the mobile culture can be sensitive to advertising on such mediums mainly due to the significant limitations of screen size available to advertising methods such as mobile banners ads. Companies are now starting to pay more attention in providing relevance and engagement on mobile devices. For example, geo-location technology has allowed retailers and restaurants to reach hyper-local consumers based on their proximity to a retail location, and their relevancy to time, interest and demographic. Geo-location mobile advertising has increased consumer engagement and response rate by at least two times, and drive at least three time more foot traffic.

Another engagement technique advertisers have used with success is the gamification of mobile advertising. Gamification leverages the use of game elements to create engagement and promote desired consumer behaviors that traditional marketing such as loyalty programs, cereal box prizes and easter eggs hunts uses. According to a report by BI Intelligence, generation X have the most positive reaction to gamification.

Lastly, the integration of social media and mobile technology has enabled consumers to interact with anyone, anywhere and anytime. This allows brands and advertisers to both listen and reach their target audience and to engage with each consumer personally. The explosion of social media usage and advertising on these channels will be discussed on a future blog post. Till then, stay tuned.

Reports and information from StatistaCharts, www.emarketer.com and BI Intelligence

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