Purpose-driven conversations have become popular amongst brands hoping to appeal to a growing global audience of conscious consumers. Aviva have been quietly building an inclusive work culture that celebrates difference not only in the workforce but the community too. Now in their tenth year, what began in York, England back in 2007 has now grown across several countries Aviva operate in.
As important as it is authentic, we’ve been inspired by Aviva’s embrace and celebration of team members who in many other organisations still feel inclined to hide a very important part of who they are. While a lot of brands are promoting equality and recognition of some of the major milestones that have been achieved in the advancement of LGBT+ rights in recent years, there is something particularly admirable in a company who are committed to creating change from the inside out through an inclusive culture that still does not exist in our wider work culture.
Take a look at this emotive piece of content from Aviva pride that really communicates the personal impact created through this terrific and authentic work culture: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOIALNGkDhc&t=333s
From giving away 20,000 pairs of rainbow laces to customers and staff, to their ‘Be out as an Ally’ initiative that encourages colleagues to show their support (now exceeding 5000 allies), connecting their team and celebrating their LGBT family has been at the heart of Aviva Pride.
With Aviva being the only insurer in the top 100 of the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index (the UK’s leading benchmark for LGBT inclusive employers) for the last ten years, there is still a long way to go. Yet stories like these will hopefully be the drop that creates a ripple worldwide and a more inclusive workplace for all.
Recent YouGov research among those 50+ shows that 79% don’t think that media portrays them accurately, whether it be on television, radio or online.
“You can’t become what you don’t see!” So says Alex Rotas, a woman on a mission to fight ageism and ageist attitudes with her inspiring work photographing athletes in their 60s, 70s, right up to their 80s and 90s.
Through her work, Alex wants to remind us that becoming older doesn’t have to equate to frailty and ill-health (though the media may lead you to believe otherwise) – there are plenty of ‘lifey’ older people around who lead vibrant, joyful and active lives & hopes that her inspiring photography will force us to rethink our attitudes to ageing.
We spoke to Alex about her experiences and some of the inspiring people she’s met along the way. Read our interview below.
Have you always felt positive about old age?
No! I grew up in an era when different ages were very much divided – much more divided than I think they are now.
When I was 19 and at university, some ‘mature students’ came. I think they were about 30. I thought they were ancient.
Was there ever any fear or concern on seeing parents or relatives age over the years? If so, when was the turning point?
I come from a family on both sides that seems to be blessed with relatively healthy longevity so the concerns I had about ageing didn’t come from there. My concerns came from the kinds of images I saw and stories I read in the media – so many scare stories (and pictures) of decrepit and passive frailty amongst the so-called ‘elderly’. (You only have to look at the street sign ‘Elderly people crossing’ to get the picture.) The overall image was one where the life-force seemed to have been knocked out. Yet I knew that there was another story and that there were plenty of ‘lifey’ (I love that word, if it’s a word!) older people around, still leading vibrant, joyful and active lives. And that they didn’t always fit into the cosy ‘granny and grandpa’ stereotype either. But where were they in our popular culture? Nowhere, as far as I could see.
What prompted you to start photographing older people in this way?
I used to work as an academic in the field of visual culture and, as a sporty person, I was interested in images from the world of sport. After I turned 60 I did a Google search on ‘older athletes’ one day and nothing came up. I was astonished! I knew there were plenty of us out there, still playing and competing in the sport we loved through our 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. But it seemed that the moment that word ‘old’ went into a search engine, the same care-home type images came up, over and over. Sport just didn’t seem to figure. So I thought, wow, here’s a gap that needs filling.
I passionately believe that “you can’t become what you don’t see”! That belief really underpins all my work. I like to feel I’m a small part of a bigger story: there are lots of us now who are angry about the way that older people are stereotyped and portrayed and who are fighting ageism and ageist attitudes, and trying to present another story. I’m one of many – and I love that! It’s great to feel part of a movement.
Have you come across any people, organizations or groups that are championing older people and/or making strides in positively changing perceptions?
There are lots of people and groups challenging these perceptions – There’s a wonderful campaign on Twitter called #NoMoreWrinklyHands that draws attention to the demeaning way older people are often represented by images of old hands, for example. There are products that challenge the anti-ageing movement (as though such a thing were possible!) such as White Hot Hair https://www.whitehothair.co.uk/about-us/ which makes hair products that explicitly embrace and enhance grey and white hair rather than trying to conceal or dye it. There are campaigners like Ashely Applewhite in the US, and her wonderfully named campaign This Chair Rocks https://thischairrocks.com, fighting daily against ageism. We are very definitely a movement, not lone voices!
Why do you think there is such negativity around ageing?
I think fear is a great driver in keeping negativity around ageing alive and well. Fear is always news: make people frightened and they’ll want to know more. It’s good copy. Fear also creates difference; it makes an Us and Them. And that’s a great marketing tool. If ‘we’ don’t want to be like ‘them’ then look at all the products that can be created to supposedly stop this happening. For me, it’s all about fighting this fear and making getting older seem like an exciting time of opportunity rather than something to be terrified about. In my case, I’ve never felt happier – or more free.
Has being exposed to much older people doing incredible things changed your approach to or outlook on life?
I always thought of myself as already having a positive approach to the ageing trajectory. But the more people I photograph who are excelling in their chosen sport through, let’s say, their 80s and 90s, the more I can feel my own perceptions continuing to evolve. I am totally in awe of the sportsmen and women who train rigorously, throughout the year, in their 80s and 90s. They are all so knowledgeable too – they know when to stop, when to take rest days, they manage their diets and for the overwhelming most part they treat their passion as just part of their lives, not as the be all and end all of everything. However, these people are not much older than me: I turn 70 myself next year. They have given me optimism yes, but most of all they have given me joy: I have become friends with many of them. So my life has become fuller and richer on that level too. I feel very grateful.
Can you tell us about a couple of your favourite photos that you’ve taken in the last few years of an older person? And the story behind it?
Here are a couple of my favourite photos (though I actually have loads of favourites, so it was a hard choice picking two!)
This is Rosa Pederson, winning the women’s long jump competition at The European Masters Athletics Championships in Aarhus in August 2017. Rosa is 87 and she’s the current world champion in her age group and also world record holder, having cleared 2.93m. I really enjoy looking at her in this photo. You can see the force with which she’s landed by the flurry of sand in the air. But what I really love about Rosa is that every time she jumps, she throws herself into the air and lets herself fall as she lands. Now we’re used to worrying about older people falling. But Rosa does it every time. Seeing her, and others like her, has really made me feel less fearful of breaking a bone if I should fall. We’re tougher than we think! I also love it that she’s quite a round person, and yet she still flies through the air and has a wonderful lightness to her. She is truly a world-class elite athlete. I enjoy seeing the wrinkles on her arms – we all have those as we get older and we should celebrate them, just as we should celebrate the wrinkles on our face. Finally, you can just see her cheeky little tattoo peeking out from under her vest: she’s a great character, full of life and full of joy.
I also love this picture of two female athletes in their late 60s comparing their biceps. Isn’t that the sort of thing we all used to do when we were kids? I love it how these two ‘older women’ are getting such a kick out of checking out theirs! I caught this moment almost by accident. I was in Izmir, Turkey, photographing what was then called the European Veterans Athletics Championships in August 2014 and it was the end of a long day. I’d left my camera bag in the middle of the stadium in some shade where a women’s throwing event was taking place. I walked over to pick it up to go back to my hotel and just as the event finished. These two women, one Danish, the other German, were comparing their muscle-power, roaring with laughter as they did so. I quickly grabbed the shot. For me this photo sums up the athleticism, physical strength, camaraderie and joy of these events that I am lucky enough to photograph.
You’re based in the UK for the most part, when travelling around the globe to photograph international events, have you noticed a difference in how older people are viewed, treated or addressed in other cultures?
There are clearly national cultural differences to the way that ageing is addressed in different places. When you see this acted out, it makes you realise how ageing truly is a complex cultural phenomenon rather than a straightforward physical one. I spend a lot of time in Greece as I have family there and I am very aware, when I go out for a run myself, that this is something ‘unusual’ for a woman of my age to do. People make comments in the street – something that doesn’t happen in northern European countries in my experience. These cultural differences are important because they can affect how we are treated medically: if we are in a culture that regards people over a certain age as inevitably ‘in decline’, the kind of healthcare we receive can be different to what you might receive in a culture that views ageing as a healthy continuation of the life-course. I’ve experienced this difference myself.
What do you think are the key factors that impact how people age? (e.g. how is it that some people stay vibrant & youthful until their 90s while others may seem quick elderly in their 60s). Do you think social norms are drivers for how we age in society? (i.e. at a certain age you are expected to…)
Most of the attributes that people who age vibrantly have in common seem, from what I have observed, to be do with an attitude towards life rather more than any physical or genetic predisposition. I also think these personal attributes tend to override the prevalent social norms around ageing that might restrict other, less positive individuals. I’ve seen athletes who compete after a string of horrible physical illnesses: they just don’t let the strokes/heart issues/joint replacements/cancers hold them back or define them. They are “bloody-minded”, as one 81 year old stroke survivor told me. They don’t give up. They are goal-orientated and focused, of course, but also in the main down to earth (rather than neurotic), friendly, open and interested in the world and other people in it. In short, they are overwhelmingly positive in their attitudes in general. Meeting such people, as I have, and photographing them is an immense privilege and joy.
Who are you and what’s your story?
I’m Ben and I’m a Video Editor. I studied Film Production at university, and then shortly afterwards moved to London to work full time as an Editor. I’ve edited and created motion graphics for a range of big
clients and I can honestly say I love what I do! Aside from my work I like to travel, play tennis and play as many video games as I can.
What attracted you to the role at Marmalade?
I really like the hard-hitting content that Marmalade produces and I think I will enjoy working on those types of projects. I think the role is going to present me with some new challenges in
regards to film styles and genres, and I’m looking forward to being more involved in the creative process and sharing my ideas with the team.
Who would be your dream client/project?
One day I’d love to work on an Attenborough documentary. Or a documentary about prisons. Or games. Or I’d like to edit something that would allow me to travel the world. I’m open to ideas!
Special Skill: I’m pretty good at Ping Pong. And I can quote Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (nearly) word for word.
Movie/TV series of the month: That would probably have to be the return of Black Mirror. Although most of the stuff Netflix is producing at the moment is equally awesome (i.e. Stranger Things, Making a Murderer). But I do love how each episode of Black Mirror is a completely different concept with a different cast, and each one somehow manages to entertain as much as it scares me about the future of humanity!
Doodle a dream:
Today is International Day of the Girl Child. Created by the United Nations, it is a day to raise awareness of the challenges that millions of girls face every day and support girls’ progress all around the world. From education to child marriage, this day harnesses the dreams and potential of young girls’ that are often thwarted by discrimination, violence and a lack of equal opportunities.
Statistics compiled by Unicef showed that at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone ritual cutting, with a further estimation of 3 million girls at risk of undergoing FGM every year.
In England & Wales, there are an estimated 137,000 women and girls that have undergone FGM, the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. This cruel procedure is endured by girls between the ages of 0 – 18 yrs.
The consequences of FGM are endless; severe pain, shock, haemorrhage, tetanus or infection, urinary infection, septicaemia… and they aren’t just physical. From the day they are cut, psychological effects can consume them for the rest of their lives.
We spoke to author, speaker & FGM campaigner Hibo Wardere, a victim of Type 3 FGM at just 6 years old in her native country of Somalia. Here, 98% of the female population between the ages of 15 and 49 have been cut.
Now living in London, Hibo strives to educate children in schools about FGM and the traumatising effects it can have throughout teenage and adult life, as well as lobby for global change and the eradication of FGM. We spoke to her about her book, her mission and what needs to be done to stop this inhumane procedure for good.
Marmalade: Your book, ‘Cut’, was published in April this year. What inspired you to write it?
Hibo Wardere: I was contacted by a lady from a publishing company to write a book about FGM. At first, I thought – why me? There were people more famous than me and their stories were more well-known, but she told me that my story was compelling and raw, which captured her.
From the beginning to the very end, the content was detailed – no blocking, no hiding any information – we made a pact that we would cover every detail. It was emotionally draining, mentally challenging and exhausting.
M: What was the importance of writing the book for you?
HW: The book gives hope… there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. There are millions of women out there who have suffered and are still suffering. There are many, many women with similar stories to mine who think there is no reason to discuss FGM.
It was a chance to reach out to these women who might, after reading the book, look for help. It is also an educational tool to spread the message that future generations should eradicate this practice.
M: What is your personal mission?
HW: To get the subject of FGM in the curriculum and continue spreading the message. FGM is child abuse and is not normal. I will continue working with many different charities to ensure that my message reaches far and wide; a united front is better than tackling an issue on your own.
M: FGM is a prevalent topic across the media here in the UK. We collaborated with Plan International UK to raise awareness with the #FGMrose campaign. Do you feel this kind of content is making a difference?
HW: It has made a huge difference and taken FGM to a broader audience. I always have a radio interview to go to, speaking to TV hosts and newspapers, or speaking to charities about it. All of these mediums have played a huge part in raising awareness; viral video campaigns also play a huge part.
The NHS have a great website and a booklet that defines everything FGM related in English that is easily understood by everyone. They are doing very well in their approach – training their staff, raising awareness, so that everyone can understand what it is and how we can manage and eliminate it.
M: Is this mass media coverage going to make a difference in communities outside of the Western world?
HW: The more everyone knows about it, the more funding we can get to go out to other countries, where FGM is the biggest issue. The Orchid Project have been out to these countries and taught communities about human rights, influencing over 7.5 thousand people to abandon the traditional rituals of FGM.
It is vital that charities like these engage the root of the problem and educate directly, getting deep into the roots and tackling the issue from there (locally) knowledge is freedom.
M: What more needs to be done on the ground to raise awareness of the issue?
HW: They must make it part of the curriculum – education is the magic key. We need to approach the issue from a young age and target children as they go through the transitional phase from primary to secondary school.
We need to be teaching them what is normal and what is not normal. I cannot emphasise how important this knowledge and education is for young people around the world.
To watch our work with Plan International UK to raise awareness of FGM, click here: #FGMrose
Follow Hibo on Twitter here: @HiboWardere
Hello! I’m Katie, a Radio graduate from Bournemouth University with a passion for producing and a love for socialising! I live in Surbiton and have a background in creating content, from children’s audio books to live campaigns for Spotify. I love cooking, music and attending all sorts of events.
What attracted you to the role at Marmalade?
I loved the focus on cause driven content and the aim to provide an impact. I think it’s important to make your audience really think and challenge the ordinary. I am seeking an opportunity to develop and progress my skills and Marmalade has a lot to offer!
Who would be your dream client/project?
I would love to work with clients such as Salvation Army and Fair Trade, and I’d love to work on a project that impacts upon the rehabilitation of refugees in the current crisis across Syria and Europe.
Special Skill: I can operate a sewing machine and can make a mean prawn, mango and coconut curry!
Movie/TV series of the month: Stranger Things. The way in which they have kept all of the connections and stylistic elements of an 80s horror, yet produced it as a contemporary series makes it extremely entertaining. I can’t wait for the next series!
Doodle a dream:
In an age where the public trust their personal data to online platforms, it would lead us to believe that a charity contributing its time and money into fundraising for various causes around the world could easily gain their trust. However research conducted by Populus on behalf of the Charity Commission this year, showed this was far from the case.
From the report, research showed that the overall level of trust and confidence in charities has fallen to 5.7 out of 10. Whether this is down to negative stories in the media about donation spend or lack of transparency within a charity, it is a significant decrease from the figure of 6.7 in 2012 and 2014.
84% of consumers globally said that they seek out responsible products whenever possible. If brands selling ethical products can gain the trust of consumers, why are people less willing to trust charities and what can be done to change this?
For the International Day of Charity, Marmalade spoke with Vicky Browning, Director of CharityComms, to find out more about the relationship between the public and charities, and how digital content & partnerships with creative agencies could potentially become a significant factor in helping to address negative public sentiment.
Marmalade: There have been several reports about trust of charities falling over the last few years – how have charities responded to this?
Vicky Browning: Levels of public trust in charities do fluctuate, but whatever the specific state of trust is at any given time, it’s not a subject charities can be complacent about or ignore. We have a unique position within our society and if the trust between the charity and supporter is undermined, it’s very significant. Parts of the public feel some charities have crossed the line between professionalism and corporatism and that has sat uncomfortably with some people. The whole issue has been a wake up call for the sector and we recognise that we can’t take the public’s trust for granted. I’ve seen levels of co-operation between charities working together to tackle this issue that I’ve not seen before, which is brilliant.
Fundamentally we need to be thinking about the supporter, about the people at the heart of this, switching from an organisational perspective to an audience perspective.
M: With so many people asking ‘where is the money going?’, what can charities do to clarify or justify their spend?
VB: The main way charities are tackling this is by being better at showing the effect of the work they’re doing, with the money they’re gven. This is a key factor – transparency. We want to be able to allow people to see the inner workings of how we operate. Especially now, in our digital era, people want to know about how things are working and what difference their money is making. Most charities are actually doing pretty difficult, important work; we need good people with experience to deliver things effectively, which is why we need to employ experienced, paid professionals alongside all the volunteers who give their time.
M: How important is emotive content in helping to foster stronger relationships between the public and the charity?
VB: People trust the brands that they know. Content that is front of mind is a large factor in trust. If you’ve heard of a brand, you’re more likely to trust it. By sharing content that connects with the cause and the public, charities are one step closer to gaining public trust. Anything that brings us back to connecting better with our supporters, as well as our beneficiaries, has got to be good for everyone. Making sure that we are connecting and engaging with supporters has become a major focus for charities. Three key factors that can make a successful connection between a charity and their audience are the connection to the cause, engagement with the audience and telling a compelling story.
M: The internet has been host to many viral fundraising campaigns such as ’22 push ups’ and ‘Find Mike’. Do you think charities should invest more time into creating unique marketing campaigns to raise awarenesss of their cause more effectively?
VB: Yes, they can be more effective in raising awareness, but they need to be underpinned by audience insight, truth and authenticity. The best ones succeed because of a complete understanding of the people they are trying to reach – a lot of these campaigns work when they have a really strong connection to the cause. I think it’s an opportunity for all charities to try and achieve transparency, openness and good communication, which applies whatever the size of the charity. Charities generally place a lot of value on a good marketing campaigns and most really understand the value of brand and how comms and marketing a brand are core to keeping awareness and understanding. It’s not a vanity spend, it is central to being able to deliver their charitable goals.
M: How do you think creative agencies can partner with charities to create emotive content and help make their voice heard?
VB: Working with a creative agency is a substantial opportunity for all charities, and there is real value in the relationship between the two. Creative agencies can be very effective in helping charities align creative ideas with those deeper insights and understanding. Creatives come in with the sparks and the ideas, teaming that with the comms knowledge of who the audience is and what motivates them. A brilliant idea won’t cut the mustard if it isn’t rooted in something that resonates with authenticity.
M: What can charities do to make sure that the public have the right knowledge of their key mission and purpose?
VB: Make the most of the digital environment. People want to ask questions and have them answered and that’s a fantastic opportunity for charities, but something we have to adjust to. Charities used to be broadcasters, telling people what we were doing. Now we’re able to have real-time conversations and that’s a different relationship, offering opportunities as well as challenges. I think one of the biggest weaknesses many charities have is that a lot of the cause areas they are working in are so complicated, they try and do everything. Trying to cover all the bases in all areas can dilute the message. Focusing on consolidating and identifying where charities can make the most difference will help build an effective understanding of each charity’s mission and purpose.
In response to the concerns about a decrease in public trust within the sector, CharityComms and its partners have come together to create a brand narrative for all charities to use. It sets out a narrative framework for how charities talk to the public about modern charities, telling a story about people making a difference, how charities harness people’s goodwill and combine it with their professional expertise and vision to create the biggest possible impact. The hope is to help people feel confident in the way charities work. The next steps? A communications toolkit for charities to use when speaking to the media on behalf of the sector and a public facing website explaining how charities work.
Marmalade works with some of the worlds leading global NGOs and brand charity partnerships. To see how we help them create impact with their audiences click here: marmaladefilmandmedia.com/creative/
Marmalade are super excited to announce their win for best social media campaign at the EVCOM Clarion Awards 2014 for our #FGMrose campaign created for Plan UK.
You can view the winning film here:
Marmalade Film & Media’s Founder and Managing Director Claire Eades was recently interviewed by Rachel Bull – Editor of Brand Republic for Libertine Magazine, on Marmalade and some of our harder-hitting campaigns.
You can view the article here: Libertine Magazine – Films for Social Change
A digital film by Marmalade Film & Media to raise awareness of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), has launched this week and fronts a global push from charity Plan UK to end the practise ‘within a generation.’
The #FGMrose viral short is also part of the world’s biggest girls’ rights campaign – Because I am a Girl – which has so far reached 58m women. This week David Cameron also pledged that the issue is on the UK political agenda to “end violence and discrimination against women,” including action on FGM.
The creative, developed by Marmalade Film & Media aims to raise awareness around FGM and drive traffic to the global campaign site.
“As a female-led company we believe strongly in women’s rights and equality on a global scale. The film is designed to galvanise people into action and provoke a strong emotional reaction with its symbolism. We were keen to achieve delicate balance, and didn’t want to disengage viewers with shock,” says Marmalade Film & Media Managing Director Claire Eades.
“This video is an imaginative and thought-provoking way to convey what is a highly sensitive issue,” says Plan UK CEO, Tanya Barron.
“FGM is a human rights violation facing millions of girls and young women across the world. We believe it’s a global problem that requires a co-ordinated global solution. “Because the beliefs and traditions that are used to justify FGM cross borders, we won’t end FGM in the UK without ending it abroad.”
“As a survivor, I feel the video is a moving and respectful way of showing the issue,” says campaigner Jay Kamara Frederick.
For more information on the Because I am a Girl campaign visit:
Under the Skin (2013) – dir: Jonathan Glazer
Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea. Those expecting something similar to his vibrantly surreal cult hit Sexy Beast (2000) might be in for a bit of a shock. Under the Skin is bleak, harrowingly bleak. The film follows Scarlett Johannson’s character, an unnamed alien who spends much of her time trawling Glasgow in a white van in order to prey on unsuspecting men.
This is real virtuoso filmmaking and much of it is incredibly daring. The extensive sequences showing Johannson driving about were filmed with miniature hidden cameras and depict the actresses true to life improvisations – in all their eerie coldness. Much of the film aims to try and show the world we know through the eyes of something without our frames of reference – an alien – and it does so with startling visual mastery. In seeing the world through her eyes we see a heartbreaking coldness to it, and an unnerving sense of otherness. The familiar streets of Glasgow become a lonely alien environment.
The film hinges on Johannson’s performance, which is superb. Her brutally cold and unfeeling actions are chillingly executed (watch out for the beach scene, which will leave you very cold indeed). Much of the film really depends on her objectification as a woman (which interestingly runs parallel to her views about her career), and in her Glazer has found someone who he can really fetishise in front of camera, dwelling long on her eyes and face, and using her as visual bait for both her unfortunate victims and cinema-goers.
Essentially, with its scenes and shots of both startling coldness and beauty, we have a truly important, if somewhat inaccessible film. The transformation that begins to ‘afflict’ the alien serves fantastically to highlight the film’s themes of beauty, ugliness and kindness, which are at the very root of our human existences.
Written by Ferdie Simon