Marketing Featured South Asia

Ad watchdog ASCI implements greater inclusion in advertising

Mumbai, India – The advertising regulatory body, Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), has updated its code to add greater inclusivity in advertising depictions, including new areas of possible discrimination or derision, such as gender identity and sexual orientation, body shape, age, and physical and mental conditions.

The new areas of the ASCI code, in addition to race, caste, creed, gender or nationality, will now be considered violations if an advertisement tries to mock or deride anyone on these bases. These changes to the ASCI code were approved by the board recently.

Talking about the changes, Manisha Kapoor, ASCI’s CEO and secretary-general, shared that they have seen consumers call out ads that mock or deride people, or portray them in unfavourable ways, and it is only fitting that advertising becomes more inclusive and sensitive to this.

“It is not acceptable for example, to associate characteristics such as sluggishness with a certain body shape. Similarly, to deride someone with a physical or mental ailment, or their gender identity would now violate the ASCI code. With this change, ASCI hopes to ensure that advertising becomes more inclusive and sensitised to all sections of our country, and does not perpetuate certain portrayals that have no place in a progressive society,” said Kapoor.

Marketing Featured APAC

P&G to ‘improve’ accessibility of advertising across APAC

Singapore – Multinational consumer goods corporation Procter & Gamble (P&G) has announced that it is committed to improve accessibility of advertising across consumers in Asia-Pacific by the year 2024. These involve advertising in social media and across websites.

The new commitments by the company are part of P&G’s new commitments aimed toward advancing equality and inclusion across Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, and Africa.

The company has also committed to spend a cumulative total of US$300m by deliberately working with women-owned and women-led businesses across the Asia Pacific, Middle East, and Africa region, from the year 2021 to 2025.

In addition, it has also committed to achieve equal representation of female directors behind the camera for the company’s brand advertisements in Asia Pacific, Middle East, and Africa, by 2024.

Magesvaran Suranjan, president for APAC, Middle East, and Africa at P&G, said, “At P&G, we remain fully committed to creating a world where equal access and opportunity to learn, grow, succeed, and thrive are available to everyone. We believe in the power of our differences and the impact we can make when we come together, united by our shared values and purpose.”

He added, “We are making great progress, yet we know there is more work to be done. So we are announcing bold new commitments and expanding existing actions which will enable us to do more. We will continue to use the voice of our company and our brands in forums such as #WeSeeEqual to drive discussion and actions on the issues that matter.”

The new commitments were made during the company’s fourth annual #WeSeeEqual summit for the region, which saw participation from distinguished advocates and personalities from the private and public sectors who came together to discuss the challenges that society faces on equality and inclusion, and how different stakeholders can accelerate progress in the new normal.

Marketing Featured APAC

PRCA APAC unveils equity, diversity, and inclusion committee

Singapore – Following the association’s expanded presence in Asia-Pacific, the Public Relations and Communications Association Asia-Pacific (PRCA APAC) has announced the formation of a new committee dedicated to equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Its purpose is to increase diversity, inclusion, and equity across all levels of seniority in the Asia Pacific’s communications profession.

Furthermore, the committee will host events, drive industry initiatives, and facilitate consultations with organizations and individuals who wish to contribute to a more diverse and inclusive communications profession in Asia.

Said committee will be led by Charu Srivastava, senior director at Redhill, while Susie Bates, senior vice president at IPG DXTRA will take the committee’s vice-chair role. 

“Through this mandate, we are committed to creating a real impact on the industry and making it a better place for future generations. Discrimination and inequality in our industry goes beyond racial and gender biases – age, sexual orientation and even the university you studied at can be a cause for discrimination,” Srivastava said, regarding the new role.

She added, “It is imperative to bring these issues to the fore and address them through open and honest conversations, and I look forward to working with a very passionate committee to achieve our goals.”

Committee members include Natashia Jaya, group account director at Allison+Partners; Iknoor Kaur, senior manager for corporate brand and communications at SPAG; Sai Roshini Daswani, director for client strategy for APAC at Sinclair; Vernia Lim, head of public relations at JLL; Lee Nugent, regional director at Archetype; and Tom Evrard, senior managing director at FTI Consulting.

“The last 18 months has inspired renewed enthusiasm for meaningful change, so it’s critical we don’t lose the momentum now. As always, the challenge is to translate talk to action. Each PRCA APAC Equality, Diversity & Inclusion committee member brings a unique perspective and acumen to the table. I very much look forward to their expertise and support as we drive a more diverse and inclusive PR industry in Asia,” said Tara Munis, head of PRCA APAC.

Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Close to half of ad agencies in SEA admit to never checking ‘diversity’ in client briefs

Singapore – Despite diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) being prominent across media and marketing, about 40% of ad agencies based in the Southeast Asia region admit to never checking client specification on DE&I before creating creative work for them, insights from independent global marketing consultancy R3 note.

According to the consultancy’s latest report spanning 300 video advertisements broadcast in the region, there are lapses in regards to gender representation in these advertisements. About 33% of the sample ads have shown negative stereotypes on body image, 38% have portrayed negative stereotypes of gender characteristics, and 44% have portrayed negative stereotypes of gender roles.

For Shufen Goh, co-founder and principal at R3, there should be a greater need for more people from diverse backgrounds in control of storytelling and production or we risk telling stories that are one-dimensional, adding that with 60% of agencies reported not having a formal process to ensure that diversity is addressed in client advertising is already considered a ‘red flag’.

“Marketers can play a positive role and encourage greater change in the narratives being developed by requiring diversity among creative directors and producers and demanding more inclusive organizational design,” Goh stated.

Despite the negative connotations, there are still brands who have persisted in creating campaigns that respect gender representation.

Based on the review, Kotex, Avon, Colgate, Apple, and Nike were five brands with the best gender representation in advertising in Southeast Asia. All brands scored positively in areas of avoiding objectification, positive body image portrayals, and positive portrayal of gender roles and characteristics. The best performing advertising addressed female empowerment, body positivity, ethnic and economic diversity, and sexual orientation.

In addition, female empowerment has been the focus of diversity initiatives across agencies in the region, though most activities reported were limited to educational and culture building exercises.

“If we look at progress through a regional lens, change is being made. There is greater representation across gender and ethnicity in the workforce, and more equality in agency leadership positions. Now it’s time for marketers and agencies to come together and shift the topic of diversity from one of corporate culture and optional participation to tangible process and policy,” Goh concluded.

Platforms Featured Global

Facebook CMO steps down

United States – The incumbent chief marketing officer of Facebook, Antonio Lucio took to their own social media platform the announcement of his resignation, which will be effective Sept. 18. 

Lucio said that his decision to step down was due to his desire to refocus his time on advocating for causes of diversity and inclusion, issues which have demanded greater attention in the past few months in the United States. 

“Given the historical inflection point we are in as a country regarding racial justice, I have decided to dedicate 100% of my time to diversity, inclusion, and equity,” wrote Lucio.

In May, a series of protests for racial justice began in the US when African-American George Floyd was killed by a white police officer during an arrest in Minneapolis city. 

Lucio said, “‘Although these issues have been core to my personal purpose for many years, and they were an important element of my work, I want to make them my sole focus.” 

Come September, Lucio will have served a total of two years on Facebook. In his post, he recounted the projects that the company has launched under his leadership and said that although there is “still a lot of work to be done, [there] is a strong foundation from which to build.”

“The work and progress made over the last two years [are] all due and thanks to [the team]: “More Together” for Facebook app, “It’s Between You” for WhatsApp, the Instagram anti-bullying platform, the launch of Messenger Rooms, “Never Alone,” “Born in Quarantine” and the launch of a new identity system for the corporate brand.”

Expressing his confidence to the team ahead, he wrote, “This team is ready to deliver its best work yet.”

Meanwhile, Facebook said that they support Lucio’s decision. 

“Antonio did incredible work telling our story during a transformative period for the company, “ a spokesperson said.

“[Facebook is] grateful for his enormous contributions and wish him well in his next chapter.”