Each week, Padilla’s Insights + Strategy team stands at the intersection of people, culture and brands to bring you five stories that you can read in five minutes.
1. Representation in Sports Illustrated
Halima Aden, a Somali-American supermodel, is the first Muslim woman to be featured in Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit edition. Why should you care? When Americans are asking for broader representation in media and marketing, this is what it looks like. Although there has been “a mixed reaction” to having a model wearing the very modest burkini as part of the swimsuit edition, Aden sees this as progress. “Young girls who wear a hijab should have women they look up to in any and every industry…The response has been incredible and I’m so honoured that Sports Illustrated has taken the step to showcase the beauty that modestly dressed women possess.” [BBC]
2. Backup dancing baggage handler
A ramp agent at Honolulu Airport is gaining notoriety on the internet for busting a move on the tarmac while flights are taxiing. Why should you care? While this adds to the experience of passengers and makes for great PR for the airport itself, kudos are also in order for the employer. When employees feel comfortable being themselves at work, it is a great indicator of satisfaction at the workplace. Employers that empower their employees and give them permission to be themselves will garner the loyalty and engagement needed to retain employees in a competitive job market. [Matador Network]
3. Netflix in Africa
Netflix recently announced it would be creating its first original animated series created out of Africa. Why should you care? Since 2016, Netflix has been investing in original content produced on the continent. This is a smart business move, because despite the significant population there, Africans remained underrepresented in media. However, we also like this because platforms like Netflix serve as a cultural exchange. For so long, that has been incredibly one-sided where Western culture is pushed out to the world, but there isn’t always platform (or capital) for others to reciprocate. We’re looking forward to seeing greater representation for those who haven’t had cartoon heroes who look like in the past and for the opportunity to expand our horizons through original content from Africa in the convenience of our living rooms. [CNN]
4. Search engine bias
Pantene has launched a Chrome extension search tool, “S.H.E.” created to “provide less biased results for queries.” Why should you care? S.H.E. stands for “Search. Human. Equalizer.” Currently available for 150 search terms, the tool will adjust search results on the back-end so the user receives results that more accurately portray women. For example, Pantene notes a Google search on “greatest painters” only includes a handful of women. According to P&G, “Cultural stereotypes often distort women’s achievements and potential, and this is no different in search. In short, society has actually taught search engine algorithms to become biased.” Brands entering the foray of cause marketing have struggled to make genuine connections between their products and causes they care about. Launching something unrelated to your product, as P&G has done here, but connected to the cause may be a good way to build incremental credibility in an activist space before jumping in.
5. Finally, some good news for tech + privacy
Speaking of search engines, Google has announced new features to protect users’ privacy. Why should you care? The features they’ve launched include tools to limit cookies and automatic data deletion. It would definitely feel like “too little, too late” if they weren’t the first company to actually address this. Consumers are losing patience with brands who took advantage of ignorance and/or “good faith” expectations with privacy and are now passing the buck. Brands who are winning with consumers are ones willing to solve the problems they created from their own capital investments (rather than raising prices); a rising trend we’ve seen with brands looking to improve supply chain to combat environmental issues. Tech companies who want to win back consumer confidence should look to do the same. Though these privacy changes will affect Google’s advertising revenue, this will help them retain customers through rebuilding trust. [Wall Street Journal and The Hill]
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