Snap, YouTube and Pinterest team up with WACL to bridge representation gap

WACL has teamed up with Billion Dollar Boy to amplify female creators and tackle the inadequate representation of women in advertising.

Nicola Kemp

Editorial Director Creativebrief


Women in Advertising, Communications and Leadership has teamed with influencer marketing agency Billion Dollar Boy to launch a new creative campaign to urge the industry to better represent women.

The campaign, created in collaboration with Billion Dollar Boy, features four renowned creators in conversation, talking candidly about why representation matters to them and their communities. The film is the latest evolution of the ‘Represent Me’ initiative, which is urging the advertising industry to take immediate action when it comes to the representation of women both in front of and behind the screen.  

To further elevate this message the campaigning group has partnered with Snap, YouTube and Pinterest who have provided support in spreading the campaign message through donated advertising. 

For while the advertising industry has long talked a good game when it comes to representation the truth remains that the many different identities of womanhood remain absent from the majority of advertising. A red thread runs between this uncomfortable truth and the failure of the industry to retain female talent, close the gender pay gap and elevate and amplify female creators. It is 2024 but advertising culture is still missing positive and realistic representations of women.

The representation of women in advertising is still disgracefully inadequate. We, as an industry, are not taking this issue seriously enough.

Nishma Patel Robb, President of WACL

Nishma Patel Robb, President of WACL, explained: “The representation of women in advertising is still disgracefully inadequate. We, as an industry, are not taking this issue seriously enough. Together, we must drive a new era of change. This creative campaign demonstrates the breadth of real women and their stories, showing audiences every woman matters. Seeing the world through the eyes of these creators, all of whom have amassed a significant following, is proof that audiences want to hear from women like these.”

She continued: “As an industry, we shouldn’t just be reflecting; we should be leading and shaping as well. This is what we at WACL are doing through our ongoing Represent Me initiative, continually reminding the industry of the importance of better representing all kinds of women in advertising. Because this matters.”

Existing in a world that constantly tells women they are not good enough, or by their absence in advertising underlines the message they do not have a voice, has a significant and pervasive impact on culture. 

Patel Robb explains: “The impact of women seeing themselves be truly themselves, rather than acting under a pre-ordained system cannot be underestimated. When progress for women is slowing or stagnating, our industry has a role to play to reflect a greater breadth of female role models in order to drive progress. Because positive representation, as these four fabulous creators show, really does matter. We all know that by now.”

Creators making change

There is an increasing body of evidence from multiple sources, including IPSOS’s A Woman’s Worth, System 1’s Feeling Seen and the Geena Davis Institute, that shows that women still do not feel accurately represented in advertising. Even though, as the findings of the Unstereotype Alliance State of the Industry report show, there is a persistent need to recognise the intersectionality of women and take action to support all forms of diversity, including race, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and age, women still do not feel, and statistically aren’t, represented in advertising. 

This latest creative campaign builds on WACL’s 2023 campaign which was designed to highlight the importance of positive gender representation in advertising on young girls and their future possibilities. It also builds on the ongoing work being done by WACL’s partners, the Unstereotype Alliance, ISBA and the Advertising Association.

This year’s campaign calls on everyone, both within the industry and outside of it, to be part of this conversation, to champion a more positive and authentic representation of all kinds of women and bring about a new era of change. Because, as WACL asserts, it is critical that representation is viewed as a progressive and enduring project, one that needs to flex and adapt to changing behaviours, ambitions and beliefs.

The four female creators represent a few of the many diverse and powerful communities of women that WACL wants to see better represented in advertising. Each is lending their voice to this campaign to champion a variety of causes. Trina Nicole is a body confidence influencer and founder of the UK’s first plus-size dance class; Ellen Jones is a writer, speaker and activist for Neurodiversity and LGBQT+; Jamelia Donaldson is the founder and CEO of TreasureTress and a woman transforming the natural hair care landscape; and Lucy Edwards is a broadcaster, journalist, author and Disability Activist making a remarkable difference to her community and to brand behaviour.

All four creators were asked by Selma Nicholls and Chloe Davies from the WACL Represent Me committee, ‘What does representation in advertising mean to you?’ They were then invited to sit down together for an in-person conversation to unpack and explore the topic. 

Becky Owen, Global CMO at Billion Dollar Boy, said: “This campaign matters because creators are pushing our industry forward. Through the audiences they've built, they've realised the need for greater representation and their own power to challenge the status quo and demand better for all women in advertising.”

She continues: “Creator marketing has put new voices, diverse voices and representative voices at the heart of our industry. It's even more incredible because they're doing it independently – their names and their faces are driving the change - and with that comes a responsibility and a vulnerability unlike any other. Yet, there's still much work ahead. Representation must be a marketing priority. Not all women are seen yet, or are only seen in small numbers. This campaign celebrates the progress made, while urging us to keep pushing forward.”

A team led by Jessica Lenehan at EssenceMediacomX, supported WACL by planning and activating paid advertising credits generously supplied by Pinterest, Snapchat and YouTube. According to WACL Represent Me is a movement, not a moment, designed to celebrate the recent progress that has been made in the advertising industry while also asking everyone in the industry to hold themselves to account and do better. The initiative is also designed to look ahead to the next 100 years of WACL and the wider future of the advertising industry.