Fiona Carter: THE STORYTELLER INTENT ON EFFECTING CHANGE

By Fera, Rae Ann | ADWEEK, November 4, 2019 | Go to article overview

Fiona Carter: THE STORYTELLER INTENT ON EFFECTING CHANGE


Fera, Rae Ann, ADWEEK


In 2016, Carter was reviewing a script for an AT&T Business ad when she noticed something was off: All the characters were male. "I realized in that moment that as an advertiser I had the ability to make a change," she recalls, saying she immediately altered the casting. "It was an epiphany of the power I had to pursue a personal passion for equality." Since then, she's worked to ensure all of AT&T's marketing and brand storytelling represent the diversity of the telecom's customers and employees.

Leveling the playing field

Around the same time as Carter's aha moment, the Association of National Advertisers was launching #SeeHer, a movement to improve the depiction of women and girls across advertising and marketing by 20% by 2020. Under Carter, AT&T became the first advertiser to incorporate the United Nations' Gender Equality Measure (GEM) into its copy testing. She also established an internal Inclusion Playbook, whose guidance on inclusivity in marketing includes attaining 50:50 gender split in casting and behind the camera, and ensuring women are in strong and primary roles in advertising.

An interesting thing resulted: "We found very quickly that those ads scoring more highly on GEM scores were scoring more highly on all our key business metrics," she says. By the end of 2018, AT&T had delivered on its commitment to improve by 20% the positive portrayal of women a full two years ahead of the ANA's goal.

Carter continues to find ways of driving equality and diversity at AT&T. The company supports Free the Work, an initiative that encourages the world of TV, filmmaking and music to employ a more diverse talent base. And in 2019, Carter was named co-chair of #SeeHer, which is now expanding its mission to TV and sports, working with networks like ABC, CBS, NBC and Viacom to improve representation. …

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