We’re setting out to eradicate stereotypes from influencer brand content – and we’re calling on all influencers, brands and the advertising industry to join us and do the same.
Our new research with 3,300 Generation Z consumers from the UK, US and Brazil reveals stereotypes are being perpetuated by influencers in branded content across social media, knowingly or unknowingly. And the respondents to our survey said it had a profound effect on how they view society.
- 93% of Generation Z consumers say they’ve seen stereotypes on social media
- More than half said it contributed to the frustration (57%), anxiety (55%), sadness (55%) and anger (52%) they have felt while using social media
- Anxiety was higher among the LGBTQI+ (68%) and disabled (75%) communities
- 73% of our respondents said they felt the world was increasingly divided
- 64% said they felt the online space was unsafe as a result of exposure to stereotypes
- And 61% said brands and influencers have a responsibility to ensure their branded content is not stereotypical, and helps contribute to a safer, more inclusive and unstereotypical world.
By working with influencers to eradicate stereotypes, not only can we help them stay true to who they are, champion creativity and achieve our own brand goals, we’ll also play an important role in supporting underserved communities and driving equity for all more broadly.Aline Santos, Chief Brand Officer and Chief ED&I Officer, Unilever
Building unstereotyping into brand partnership contracts
To ensure all influencer content created for our brands is unstereotypical, progressive and authentic, new guidance around stereotypes will now be included in all Unilever’s brand partnership contracts, encouraging influencers to assess whether their content may include harmful stereotypes and provoke more inclusive thinking.
Aline Santos, Chief Brand Officer and Chief Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Officer at Unilever, says: “We know that social media and influencers are providing a safe and inclusive space for Gen Z consumers and as brands, we have a huge responsibility to protect this environment and ensure stereotypes are not being portrayed or perpetuated in our own content or influencer brand content.
“By working with influencers to eradicate stereotypes, not only can we help them stay true to who they are, champion creativity and achieve our own brand goals, we’ll also play an important role in supporting underserved communities and driving equity for all more broadly.”
Our new guide to unstereotyping influencer brand content
Developed with support from the , this open-sourced guide offers advice to help influencers share a more authentic reflection of themselves and the world around them in their branded content. But it’s not exclusively for influencers working with Unilever. We want to make it available to any influencer working with any brand, so it’s freely available to download.
Laura, who posts on Instagram as , is one of the influencers we worked with to create the guide. She has alopecia, a condition that has led to the loss of her hair, and she shares the experiences and challenges that brings with her audience.
Laura says: “I’m really encouraged that Unilever is gathering insights from creators, like me, with lived experience of discrimination on set and social media due to our differences and disabilities. Being bald should never have been a barrier to me pursuing dreams of being on camera. And now, years later, with a guide like this, those in positions of influence within the industry will ensure it no longer is.”
Sara Denby, Head of the , UN Women, adds: “We wholeheartedly support this new chapter in Unilever’s Act 2 Unstereotype journey to eradicate harmful stereotypes from branded content and think it is a timely and important initiative.
“As influencers become increasingly central to brands looking to connect with their audiences in an authentic, meaningful manner, it is vital that we support them – and ourselves as businesses – to ensure we’re working together to create brilliant, creative and, most importantly, unstereotypical content for all.”