- Mars Inc. launched a crowdsourcing campaign, #HereToBeHeard, that seeks to engage women across lines of race, age, sexuality, religion and ability. The effort will ask women, "What needs to change so more women can reach their full potential?" and use the responses to inform concrete actions the company will take to help close the gender opportunity gap and support the broader business community's efforts on this front, per a press release.
- After collecting submissions at beheard.mars.com through March, data will be analyzed by the Oxford Future of Marketing Initiative (FOMI) at Oxford University's Saïd Business School and results will inform Mars' actions. To kick off the conversation, Mars has tapped influencers including Tamera Mowry-Housley, Poppy Jamie, Hani Sidow, Helen Wu and Kellie Gerardi.
- The purpose-driven #HereToBeHeard is part of Mars' gender equity-focused Full Potential platform that launched last year. The campaign will build on actions Mars has already started, including removing gender bias and negative stereotypes from its advertising.
Mars' #HereToBeHeard campaign builds on the company's previous efforts to achieve gender equity in its company, within its sourcing communities and the marketplace at large. By seeking women's voices from across the globe, Mars can generate a wide range of user-generated content and drive actions with real consumer feedback. Using influencers including Mowry-Housley, who has more than 8 million Instagram followers, will amplify these efforts. The effort points to how brands are leveraging influencers, who younger consumers don't mind hearing from in ads, to support purpose-driven efforts as these become more important with this cohort.
The findings from Oxford's FOMI are expected to help Mars build on the work it has already undertaken to improve the inclusivity and diversity of its marketing and become part of the FOMI's resources for businesses. Mars has worked to remove gender bias and negative stereotypes from its advertising in partnership with the U.N.'s Women's Unstereotype Alliance, mandated that agency bids must include a female director, and reviewed its advertising annually to identify and reduce gender bias with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, per comments emailed to Marketing Dive.
"As a leading global marketer, Mars has the unique opportunity to use our iconic brands to drive positive change," Michele Oliver, Mars' global vice president of corporate brand and purpose, said in a statement. "With more than 70% of brand purchasing decisions made by women, we believe it’s critical for businesses to hear directly what women — across the globe and at every intersection — need to realize their full potential. Only then can we truly understand the role businesses can and should play in shaping a more inclusive marketplace."
Mars' effort to increase inclusivity and diversity and close the gender gap — from the corporate level down — comes as other major CPG companies ramp up similar efforts. Unilever this month published a wide-ranging plan for fighting two issues it views as the biggest threats to society, climate change and social inequality, pledging to feature more diverse groups in its advertising in front of the camera and on the production end. Mondelez International last year announced a new global marketing strategy it describes as "humaning," a consumer-centric approach that unites its marketing approach with diversity and inclusion efforts.
Some of these efforts are yielding results, as major advertisers have added more women to high-ranking marketing jobs, according to a survey by the Association of National Advertisers. However, the same survey found that ethnic diversity hasn't improved in the past few years, leaving significant room for growth.