The #NotYourCliche movement is all about making visual representation a real reflection of the world we live in. It's only through collective participation, Brogues argues, that the shift towards an inclusive, truly diverse view of culture and society can be achieved.
It’s a Monday, and I’ve just opened Slack to see a colleague’s posted about the “Lady Doritos” flop. Apparently, PepsiCo chief executive Indra Nooyi says, us women are ashamed to be seen crunching and licking our fingers “generously” in public, and God forbid we would (gasp) “pour the little broken pieces” into our mouths. Needless to say, the researchers who “discovered” such groundbreaking revelations clearly haven’t seen my lady friends and I lick the last dregs of sauce out of bowls in restaurants, or indeed, drink our crisps. But I digress.
By now, my peers and I are much more likely to meet these kinds of mass media-prescribed gender roles with mass eye rolls. This latest fiasco is only the tiniest symptom of a much more exhaustive issue in the marketing industry at large: Real, non-generalized, non-prescriptive concepts of social roles and representations are far from being attained. And if I — in my own petite way — can use my position at EyeEm to be part of the shift towards an inclusive and thoroughly representative view of culture and society, and incite others to do so as well, then I’m going to. Enter the #NotYourCliche campaign.
There’s no doubt we’ve seen progress towards representational mold-breaking in the marketing realm: Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In Collection on Getty Images, Sport England’s This Girl Can campaign, Always’ #LikeAGirl mission, Joshua Kissi’s TONL venture and the like.
And while Dove has been active in their pursuit of “Real Beauty” for over a decade, the PR crisis amidst their VisibleCare body wash commercial — called out for being racist — proved they’re not immune to missing the mark when it comes to conviction in executing their brand values. Nor are any other brands or businesses. Which is why we need to take things further, deeper, and more real. Really real.
How about we take it beyond isolated campaigns and start to reflect the world’s population at large in a consistent, genuinely representative way? A way that breaks out of the “diversity as commercial trend” mindset and showcases it with integrity and conviction — because the world IS diverse. It IS made up of multifaceted human beings with unique stories to tell. It IS comprised of numerous identities, conditions, emotions and moods, often conflicting and always changing.
Because while the term “image” might sound superficial by nature, the reality goes far deeper. Just like antiquated stock imagery has played a critical — and to be frank, damaging — role in shaping a one-dimensional social and cultural consciousness, authentic (not buzzword authentic, actually authentic) images created by the diverse global talents the world is actually made up of, make way for a tangible and promising push towards what constitutes “normal” and “acceptable” on a social, cultural and political level.
The reality, of course, is that “normal” in itself is a construct. Our so-called “weird” idiosyncrasies are quite literally what make us human, and are therefore universal. And it’s about time this humanness, this realness, is reflected everywhere. Everywhere.
It’s up to us as creators to share our stories, capture our perspectives and own our voices. It’s up to us as brands and businesses to buy — and use — these images and elevate these stories, not just for a one-off marketing campaign, but consistently, embedded into our values, with conviction and a backbone. It’s up to us as EyeEm to foster, further and provide a platform for the voices, viewpoints and creativity of the millions of talents we’re humbled to have in the community — and connect those creators to the world’s brands and industry change-makers at scale.
It’s up to every one of us, because we each constitute the diverse lives and identities that need to be represented. So please, join me — and us — in flipping the visual marketing industry on its head, because EyeEm #NotYourCliche and you are not mine. It’s time to shake things up, for real.
Over the coming months, we'll be taking on the issue of authentic representation across a whole range of areas, from LGBTQ+ culture, to gender roles, to business – and we want you (all of you) to be part of it too. Start sharing your unique stories and visuals now using #NotYourCliche – Visual Lead Maddy has started to curate her favorites here.