Advertisers Activists Collective: 2016 - Ongoing


The power of the advertising creative to change norms

The Advertisers Activists Collective (AAC) was launched by Accountability International in early 2016 as a means to reach out specifically to the advertising industry in Africa on LGBTIQ issues. Advertisers play a central role in changing the hearts and minds of the public through their work. Instead of contracting an advertising firm to run us a campaign at a costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars, we worked with advertisers to change the way they work forever at a fraction of the cost! Sustainable, cost-effective, and impactful! Staff at the advertising agencies then applied their knowledge in ways we could never have imagined, designing new campaigns, doing pro-bono work for NGOS, hiring more LGBTIQ models, photographers, staff internally and much more. 

When people know better, they do better!

Over the course of this project, Accountability International trained over 400 advertising staff in South Africa on LGBTIQ matters and human rights issues. Simply put, the project had a powerful impact on four levels:

1. A number of stereotypical, discriminatory and stigmatising adverts and existing campaigns ended. Several campaigns which made fun of LGBTIQ people were ended as our advertising execs went back to clients and educated clients of the need to change brand messaging. Advertisers were able to make this argument clearly with their new skills and training.

2. The respectful inclusion of LGBTIQ people in adverts increased significantly. LGBTIQ people have become much more visible in South African adverts since our trainings. Empowered with "how not to do" and "how you can" staff applied this knowledge and were empowered to write more LGBTIQ inclusive story-lines.

3. Visibility of LGBTIQ people in advertising increased as more adverts depicted LGBTIQ relevant storylines, including advertising agencies advocating with clients to include LGBTIQ people when the clients were not yet ready. They used their new LGBTIQ and human rights knowledge to stand up for LGBTIQ inclusion!

4. The workplace environment in advertising companies improved for LGBTIQ people. LGBTIQ people reported feeling more included and directors actively changed their hiring practices.

Now in 2021 and 2022, we begin a new journey! We will begin training advertisers on matters pertaining to criminalisation. We do this as a means to ensuring that people, identities and behaviours that are criminalised are understood by the advertising staff and portrayed in ways that are not harmful, but constructive, non-discriminatory and inclusive. Watch this space as we begin a new pathway to diversity, equity and inclusion and human rights for all!

The Advertisers Activists Collective started as a part of the Destabilising Hetronormativity project. Learn more here in this video:

Over the years, this work has been implemented by Lucinda van den Heever, Czerina Patel, Sheriff Mothopeng, Ricki Kgositau and Phillipa Tucker (concept design).

Now the work falls under the #challengecrim project and is managed by Keikantse Phele info at accountability dot international for more info.

Further Information and Media Releases