UN Women recently launched their new ad series which uses genuine Google searches to reveal widespread sexism at the global level. For example, in the ad above, Google’s autocomplete shows that the most prominent searches starting with “women shouldn’t” are “women shouldn’t have rights’, “women shouldn’t vote”, “women shouldn’t work”, and “women shouldn’t box”.
I had several early reactions to these ads. At first glance, I was appalled by the seemingly nonexistent progress women have made in fighting inequality and discrimination. Then, the marketing geek in me came out and I was fascinated by the fact that the ads are so simple yet so incredibly effective. Finally, the realness of the ads hit me. Very rarely are ads this real. Each ad we’ve studied in class has been constructed- women are posed, men are posed, and catchy lines are created, all by one marketing team. Consequently, the ad’s message is constructed. In the UN Women ads, the Google searches are real. Consequently, the ad’s message is real.
And search lines such as “women should stay at home” and “women should be slaves” tell us a very real message that our world has leaps to make before we can reach gender equality.