Here’s How Unilever Believes DNA Tests Can Help Marketers Eliminate Stereotypes from Ads


Unilever believes that DNA tests can help marketers eliminate stereotypes from ads. They believe that by understanding their personal diversity, they can eliminate stereotypes from ads. To test out and prove their theory, the brand conducted a unique experiment. The brand offered its marketers and agency partners a chance to undergo DNA tests. By undergoing these tests, the brand is hoping to give the participants a better understanding of their own diversity. The experiment and its overall goal fall in line with the brand’s mission to banish stereotypes from its ads.

Here’s How Unilever Believes DNA Tests Can Help Marketers Eliminate Stereotypes from Ads

About Unilever’s DNA Experiment

Unilever partnered with the University College London (UCL) to run the experiment. They worked with business and experimental psychologists. They worked together to prove that by letting execs discover their own genetic makeup and ancestry, they can reduce “stereotypical thinking” and unconscious bias. Their experiment is part of the brand’s “Unstereotype” initiative. The initiative aims to banish biases that relate to gender, background, age or orientation from advertising. As part of the DNA experiment, Unilever tested 63 people in the U.S., U.K. and Netherlands. They tested 12 brand teams and people from MullenLowe and Ogilvy.  The brand still plans to roll out the experiment to marketers and agency teams globally.

These 63 people submitted their DNA for analysis, the DNA data was anonymous to Unilever. They worked with an external partner to collect it. After the participants were given the results, they underwent a workshop conducted by UCL professors. The workshop focused on how to unlearn stereotypical thought patterns. After the workshop, they were then tested on their likelihood to stereotype people via a series of images. Unilever’s goal was to find out whether a deeper understanding of heritage had any impact on their creative thinking. They also wanted to see if it will challenge them to think about their own sense of identity.

Results for Unilever’s DNA Experiment

According to the brand, the psychologists administered tests before and after the training. The results showed that there was a 35 per cent reduction in stereotypical thinking and a 27 per cent increase in original thinking. According to the brand, a lot of people were surprised by their results. Many didn’t know they had Asian, African or Jewish roots. These new discoveries created a great opportunity for the participants to learn about others and understand that they should be conscious of not stereotyping people.

Unilever is very open to sharing the results of their experiment with other brands. The brand has already decided a long time ago not to compete on diversity. They just want to help.


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