There are dozens of tiny details to consider when creating content – demographic, brand DNA, channel mix, distribution, scheduling, ROI – all of these considerations are essential to successful content. However, no matter how excellent your content, if your brand neglects to employ social and cultural sensitivity the effect can be disastrous. We’ve put together a few basic areas to consider to avoid your brand blowing up the internet for all of the wrong reasons.
Don’t contribute to gender oppression.
Whilst this may seem obvious, there are many behaviours, referred to as microaggressions, that whilst, they may not be blatantly sexist, can contribute to a culture of gender oppression. A very common behavior is defaulting to binary pronouns. We recommend using gender neutral pronouns such as ‘they/them’ unless the subject has clarified otherwise – and always use a person’s preferred pronouns. Whilst this is obvious in regards to dealing with content creators and talent, as a brand you have the opportunity to normalise non-binary gender and oppose gender oppression in your content without making it the focus of your content.
Whilst gender bias is the focus of this content we created for Our Watch, check out some of the advice on how to avoid gender oppression.
Don’t engage in racist behavior.
Again, fairly obvious, but again, consider ways in which microaggressions, or more subtle behaviours can contribute to attitudes of white supremacy, including an absence of representation, or reinforcing stereotypes. Whilst content is good at saying a lot in a little, and can rely on cultural clichés and stereotypes as coded ways of communicating to do so, stretch your creativity and find new ways to avoid old racist cliché. In terms of representation, your brand can contribute to fostering a positive space for non-white people by ensuring that you engage with a diverse range of people – not only as part of the public-facing side of your brand, but also behind the scenes, to ensure that voices of minorities can have a say about your brand .
Don’t be homophobic or transphobic.
Whilst we know we’re beginning to sound like a broken record – representation matters. Normalise LGBTI+ people by including them in your content. The webseries that we created for The Line, Asking For A Mate, featured young people discussing relationships, gender and sexuality. It was of the utmost importance to have a diverse cast of talent, across genders, sexualities, races, classes and cultures to ensure that the content appealed to the widest audience. Whilst representation matters in social content, it’s also one of the best things you can do to help your brand find a wider audience.
Respect Indigenous peoples.
We’ve had the pleasure of working with NAIDOC Victoria, First Nations Foundation and Djirra, all organisations that work with the Indigenous peoples of Australia. Many of the content we’ve been discussing has been of a sensitive nature, such as domestic violence or justice for Indigenous youth. In such situations, we have always allowed the organization to lead us through sensitive areas, and defaulted to their judgment for all decisions about culture and inclusion. As Australians, we are living and working on land that was never ceded, and it is essential that we pay respects to the traditional owners. Acknowledgement of this on websites, social media and longer form content is way of paying respect, as is ensuring you have an official Acknowledgement of Country at any experiential marketing events – or even contact your local people’s elders for an official Welcome to Country at larger events.
One thing you should never do, as a brand, is use Indigenous artworks without permission, or have artworks (including music) that use Indigenous traditions and styles made by non-Indigenous artists.
Whilst these might seem obvious, insensitive brand behaviour makes the news more often than you’d hope – check out the furor around Pepsi’s tonedeaf ad with Kendall Jenner or every complete trainwreck on this list.
At DOTF, we pride ourselves on the strength that comes with our diversity, bringing a variety of different intersectional perspectives across gender, sexuality, race, class and culture to every piece of work we create.