Historically, advertising has often leaned on social stereotypes to sell products, so it takes a brave marketing manager to vow not to play up to them. But that’s what Aline Santos pledged to do in 2016, deciding the way women were portrayed in advertising was perpetuating problems.
“Advertising can be a powerful force in leading positive cultural change,” she said back then. “We believe it is our responsibility, alongside the industry, to be at the forefront of this change by positively portraying people as they truly are today — progressive ads will lead us to a progressive future for all.”
At Unilever, she’s lived up to that promise, and helped affect a wider change within the industry, bringing people who have not ordinarily been seen in advertising to the forefront, and keeping the company advancing. And at the same time, Santos has been unusual in not following her colleagues into the charge against social media by boycotting big platforms in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, choosing instead to engage with them and make changes from within.
"We have been really engaging with the social-media players, not in an activist way, or fighting against them and then shouting at them,” she told The Drum in July.