Taylor’s University has invested approximately RM100,000 for its International Women's Day (IWD) campaign video which urges the younger generation, especially females, to not be afraid of challenging norms. Taylor's also aims to show that as an education provider, the university plays a role in encouraging them. At the same time, it wants the younger generation to know that as long as individuals believe in themselves, they can succeed.
Working with Imagineers Film, the two-minute spot focuses on societal expectations of women and takes audiences through thought-provoking scenes that highlight the stereotype and gender biases women often faced in society. This thus raises questions on the hopes, dreams and ambitions of women across different ages and cultures.
It also highlights the hidden tribulation and grievances that women often go through – whether they are girls with an ambition of becoming the first female Prime Minister, young women dreaming of building their own empire and becoming a CEO, or even the brilliant teenage scientists whose values are often assigned on their appearances, rather than their achievements. The video runs on YouTube, Facebook, IGTV and LinkedIn for two weeks.
Group CMO Ben Foo told A+M that education is the pathway towards a balanced and equal society. "Education enables girls and boys, women and men to participate in social, economic and political life which is crucial to changing attitudes into accepting gender equality as a fundamental social value," he said. He added that education institutions – whether primary, secondary or even tertiary institution – provide the environment which allows a society to affect inequality be it gender or racial.
The IWD spot follows an equally edgy Deepavali and Hari Kebangsaan short film the University released in November and August last year. Similar to the Deepavali video, the Hari Kebangsaan film projects the voice of the young in pricking the conscience of the older generation, reminding the audience that a nation can solve its deep rooted issues and catalyse progress through education.
"The topic of gender inequality has been talked about so some of us take it for granted at times. But this serves as a reminder to all the women in our life - our daughters, sisters and mothers to encourage the younger people," Foo added.
He also said that the IWD celebration serves as "a powerful reminder" to celebrate the women in our lives. "It is our pursuit, within the ecosystem called Taylor’sphere, that aspiring female leaders are encouraged to challenge societal expectations and be unafraid of uncomfortable conversations. It is a culture that recognises every individual is distinct and has a voice, not because of their gender, creed nor the colour of their skin but that every person is created equal," he explained.
When asked how advertising is shaping society's views on women and the stereotypes surrounding them, Foo said society needs to stop featuring women as peripheral characters. Instead, real progress will be made when it is much more equally divided. Hence, university's approach is to be upfront with its conversations in dealing with stereotypes by moving away from the default norms it normally sees in ads, and be unafraid to question societal norms.
"We take risks by touching on real human and cultural insights which can be controversial, to address real societal issues that can help human society propel forward into a more evolved culture," Foo told A+M .
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