“What do we want? Social justice!” 6 of the best ads calling out the status quo right now

Advertising has always been at the forefront of cultural and societal change, acting as a mirror of sorts for the constantly evolving face of British society.

Increasing numbers of charities and non-profits are harnessing the extensive power of advertising to get their messages across, leveraging immensely impactful platforms such as TV, social media and out-of-home to great effect in order to maximise cut through.

A range of different campaigns have recently tapped into this, raising awareness of issues such as gender and ethnic inequality as they call for visible change to be enacted.

From Vanish to ITV, the campaigns featured below have used a variety of mediums to great effect, communicating their key campaign objectives in a concise, attention-grabbing but undoubtedly influential way.

Nurofen & McCann – ‘See My Pain’ 

Nurofen is seeking to address the gender pain gap with the rollout of the second phase of its ‘See My Pain’ creative platform, centred around a powerful 90-second spot.

Developed by London agency McCann, the film features the stories of six real women who have lived with chronic pain but have had their suffering repeatedly dismissed due to their gender.

Thanks to systemic gaps and biases within the medical profession and wider society, half of women surveyed (50%) by the Reckitt-owned brand said that they had felt ignored or dismissed by their GP when it came to pain – with this figure standing at 36% for men.

McCann London creative director, Ruth Boulter said: “Behind this campaign are thousands of conversations with the 1 in 6 women who experience severe pain every single day. We hope this campaign serves to be a platform for their lived experiences, acknowledgement for the times their pain has been dismissed, and as validation that they deserve help and support.

People Like Us & Worth Your While – ‘People Like Us’

Diversity and inclusion charity People Like Us last week unveiled a new integrated campaign to challenge Britain’s ethnicity pay gap.

By highlighting the autocorrect bias that affects BAME names using real-life examples, People Like Us is hoping to address what it calls ‘established inequity’ in the work place by campaigning for the introduction of mandatory pay gap reporting between ethnicities.

Created in partnership with independent creative agency, Worth Your While, the work was commissioned after research revealed that BAME workers are paid on average only 84% of what their white colleagues earn.

“The problem with these types of clunky, and often, offensive autocorrections is that it perpetuates the myth that non-Anglophone names are foreign and difficult to pronounce,” People Like Us co-founder, Sheeraz Gulsher said.

“It reinforces a homogenous culture that excludes individuals with diverse backgrounds and undermines the efforts of organisations to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Anyone with a diverse name can give you examples of it. Ayan becomes Alan, Rishi becomes Rich and so on.

ITV – ‘Would You Say It?’ 

ITV is asking “Would you say it?” as part of a new behaviour change campaign to tackle online trolling, developed in partnership with The CyberSmile Foundation.

The campaign, which launched on 6 April during an advert break in the England vs Brazil Women’s Football match on ITV1, will be broadcast across all of ITV’s channels.

The ads specifically target people who pass hurtful comments off as ‘banter’. Known as ‘casual critics’, this group is responsible for most online trolling but typically don’t believe they cause any harm.

ITV director of social purpose Susie Braun said: “So much of our lives are now spent online so it’s important to think about our mental wellbeing there too.

“Trolling dressed up as banter is having a real impact on lives beyond the screen, which is why ITV is proud to partner with Cybersmile to do our bit in making a difference.”

Vanish & Havas – ‘Ambitious About Autism’ 

Vanish last week launched its Channel 4 Diversity In Advertising Award-Winning ad campaign that shines a spotlight on how families live with autistic teenagers.

The powerful, emotive short film was developed in partnership with creative agency Havas with support from charity Ambitious about Autism and aims to spark greater conversations around autism in order to broaden public understanding of the disability.

Having premiered over the weekend during a screening of Channel 4’s Gogglebox, the film will be backed by £1 million worth of commercial advertising airtime across the broadcaster’s entire network.

The campaign was initially commissioned after research revealed that boys were three times more likely to receive an autism diagnosis than girls, and looks to directly challenge misconceptions around the male-dominated representation of autism in the media.

Reckitt global executive creative director and Havas creative partner, Elliott Harris added: “Working closely with teams across Reckitt and Ambitious about Autism, we identified a universal truth among the autistic community: that clothes can be a lifeline; a source of comfort to help navigate a world not built for them.

“For Vanish, this represents a clear, credible role for the product and a natural synergy with its purpose: keeping these clothes the same, wash after wash, really matters.

Tena & AMV BBDO – #NoLoveLikeIt

Tena is highlighting the unseen struggle of the 5.7 million people in the UK who care for loved ones with a touching new campaign and film.

Created in partnership with AMV BBDO, #NoLoveLikeIt brings to light the heartbreaking realities around caregiving by telling the real stories of three caregivers and the loved ones they look after.

In collaboration with non-profit Carers UK and Ketchum, research conducted by the incontinence brand found that only 50% of people who provide extended family with care consider themselves ‘carers’, with this lack of acknowledgement often impacting their ability to seek the appropriate help and support.

With an ever-ageing global population, many of us will become carers in our lifetimes – and for many, dealing with incontinence can be one of the most challenging issues, adding to the stress and exhaustion suffered by over 70% of carers in some markets, according to Tena’s research.

AMV BBDO creatives, Ben Smith and Dan Kennard said: “We reached out to third party carer networks to find real carers who were willing to participate in the campaign and share their stories with us. We worked closely with them to craft the films, delving deeper into their stories and capturing real moments of joy and the challenges that go with them.”

Simply Be – ‘No More Bad Fit’

Inclusive fashion brand Simply Be has launched a powerful new campaign challenging the fashion industry and calling for an end to ‘bad fitting’ clothes.

‘No More Bad Fit’ was commissioned after an industry survey revealed that 99% feel frustrated at the inconsistent sizing seen between different fashion brands, with 90% saying that they have to buy multiple sizes of each item to guarantee a decent fit.

To tackle the issue, the brand is revealing its ‘secrets’ to producing great-fitting clothes, which includes adjustable elements for flexibility with a focus on shape and contour and building stretch into garments.

“On behalf of women everywhere, we’re calling for an end to bad fit. It’s time every woman felt empowered and confident through great fitting fashion. Fit’s our thing. It’s why we exist,” Simply Be fit expert, Carole Wilson said.

“We fit and develop our fashion on real bodies, and we’re damn proud of it. We are totally upfront with our sizing, and we know what works for different shapes.”

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