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“I'm convinced that if advertising was less sexist, the society would be more equal”

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May
27,
2009
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As we promised, once Congènere is finished, it's time for relations and the final conclusions. We spoke to Carmen Echazarreta, Congènere's director, and Vice Dean of the Department of Advertising and Public Relations at the Faculty of Tourism, University of Girona.

AdWomen: Could you tell us more about what ARPA is?

Carmen: ARPA is a research group (Analysis of Audiovisual Screens) which involves several disciplines. This group is based in Girona and it was mine initiative. I wanted to analyze the audiovisual communication trough different perspectives. This is the reason why ARPA's members come from different areas: audiovisual communication, advertising, ethics and language didactic.

ARPA was created 3 years ago and since then we managed to create a project for the Audiovisual Council of Catalunya, which was prized. The goal of the project was to develop a computer platform which consists of teaching basic literacy trough YouTube. We have to hand it in this month. Apart from that, we have created another platform (entutv.net) in order to teach the audiovisual communication.

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AdWomen: Why did you decided to celebrate this congress just now? The economical situation is not very encouraging, and it focuses the attention on other kind of issues…

Carmen: Because of our motivation-each of the members had to deal with the problem of gender in a different way and we all are interested in it. Besides, we analyzed every report about gender and advertising and we discovered that there are few of them, although there are some general reports about women and advertising. And our approach to the topic wants to overcome the idea of gender related just and only to women; we want to investigate all its dimensions related to advertising.

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AdWomen: How can this academic knowledge contribute to professional experience?

Carmen: The fact that AdWomen or Mercedes Wullich from Women & CIA are present here is enough to spread the conclusions of the congress. We believe that advertising professionals have to stay connected to the academic world. Many advertising agencies use in their work the university researches, so they can incorporate a specialised knowledge to their campaigns. Besides, there is a need to accentuate ethics in advertising strategies. They have no alternative. As far as we can launch this type of events, women and men who really want to get an egalitarian presence will be the firsts to become active agents. I think that society is very motivated and aware of it.

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AdWomen: Internet, Facebook, Twitter… How do they influence the gender discourse? Are they more equal?

Carmen: Someone have to be the first one to spread this knowledge. Experts are also using Facebook to share their opinions. After all, social networks were the main platform used in Osama's campaign. We definitely have to take them into account at the time of spreading gender equality. What's important, they work well with teenagers. Often they prefer using these platforms than a face-to-face contact.

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AdWomen: Can assume that if advertising was less sexist, the society would also be less sexist?

Carmen: I'm convinced that if advertising was less sexist, the society would be more equal. We can not speak about society as something isolated, but about the whole productive system. We can change things from the inside.

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AdWomen: Do you think that advertising speech could change if there were more women in the creative departments of advertising agencies?

Carmen: I think so, but some of women in advertising have a male style of working, because this is the way, they have been tough and they are used to.

I could say yes because of new generations. They are growing with a critical point of view; they are watching inequalities in their surrounding and this way they work out the perspective and approach that serves at the time of creating non-discriminatory campaigns.

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AdWomen: Do you think that should be more agencies or professionals specialized in advertising aimed at women?

Carmen: It is not about a communication aimed at women. For example, if want to create an advertising for bleach, which is going to be the main message? Creativity flows determined by this filter. If filters do not exist, then creative team uses stereotypes in their campaigns.

Digital world is segmenting the market and agencies have to work in order to create a suitable speech. Otherwise, the ones which do not take the segmentation into account will fail.

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AdWomen: Can we reach the objectives marked in the United Nations' Plan for development: the promotion of equality between genders and the women's autonomy?

Carmen: It is an ambitious goal.

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