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A Long Path To Equality

Author:Ms Sandra Ávila-González (Triana, Uribe & Michelsen)
Profession:Global Advertising Lawyers Alliance (GALA)

Times have undoubtedly changed. Equality is the purpose of many fights due to gender, race, sexual preference, among others and roles divided by presupposition are no longer accepted.

Although not many legal systems have included rules concerning these issues, the influence of social media has changed the feed back from each ad launched into the market. Consumers are no longer distant from manufacturers and distributors; this means that waiting until a market research is performed to determine how certain ad was received, is not necessary anymore. Social media closed the gap and made advertisement accessible for consumers to criticize or support.

Thus, reaction (either positive or negative) towards an ad is immediate. Most robust trademarks know how their advertisement has been received and can adapt easily to where the world is moving, to what the world is accepting or can simply adopt a disruptive practice, which creates noise, that sometimes is the whole point.

Colombia has seen its share of controversial advertisement.

An airline used an ad stating: "Take your mistress to the 'Arenosa' (sandy)" (sandy is an appellation for the city of Barranquilla), to promote tickets to Barranquilla. The word 'mistress' is demeaning for women, and therefore received a very strong rejection, not only from the consumers, but also from the Office for Human Rights of the Ministry of Interior, which requested a modification of the ad, as the phrase promoted discrimination and sexism against women. Despite the adverse reaction among consumers, the airline increased its sales to Barranquilla by the threefold, due, exclusively, to this ad.

The thing is, that sometimes we are so used to discrimination and gender presumption, that we fail to notice the underlying messages hidden in apparently positive advertisement.

However, very far from a positive message was a recent campaign of a mobile company that consisted of three ads, two of which read: "Killed her with $800 pesos", "Did it with both at the same time" and "Consumed seven days a week". The ads were included in a tabloid with the format of a news article. By them selves the phrases did not amount to much. Nonetheless, they were included with a...

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