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August 11, 2023updated 14 Aug 2023 5:11pm

Ladbible responds to criticism of ‘Maaate’ anti-sexism campaign

Ladbible aiming to start conversation around sexism with multimedia campaign.

By Amy Jenkins

Ladbible has responded to criticism of the “Say Maaate to a Mate” anti-sexism campaign it is promoting in association with the Mayor of London.

The “Say Maaate” campaign “aims to empower men and boys to say ‘Maaate’ to their mates as a means of challenging sexism and misogyny in society” and “is part of the Mayor’s refreshed strategy to tackle violence against women and girls (VAWG)”, the Mayor of London’s office said in a statement.

Ladbible is the official partner of the campaign (but is not being paid by the Mayor of London for its work).

Explaining that relationship, Lindsay Turner, director of marketing at Ladbible Group, told Press Gazette: “No money has changed hands. This is a partnership that we’re really passionate about. We reach a billion people, we reach 50% of UK adults, two-thirds of 16 to 34s.

“The value obviously we bring to the table is this authority in social, is this authority within youth and gen Z in particular, so this really is something that we are doing because we think it’s really important rather than there’s any money exchanging hands.”

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The campaign has been seen by some critics as an ineffectual response to the most serious instances of violence (52% of women killed in the UK in 2020 died at the hands of a current or former partner) and for failing to address the institutional failure to make women feel safe on the streets (an average of 25 rapes a day are reported in London, and 40% of women attacked do not report rape to the police believing that they won’t be supported).

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Turner described the campaign as being designed “to give someone a tool that was accessible and to a certain extent make it easy for guys to have some of these tricky conversations…around casual sexism”.

Ladbible said “maaate” is a “casual way of challenging someone without making things awkward, ruining the vibe or putting your friendship at risk”, but writing in The Observer Barbara Ellen condemned it as a “feeble” and “naive” way to respond to differing degrees of threat contained within sexist comments.

Turner said Ladbible’s part in the mayor’s campaign was to initiate peer-to-peer conversation in line with the public health approach of prioritising early intervention and prevention, rather than being “designed to tackle that level of physical violence and harassment”.

Pointing to Ladbible’s specialism in creating “social content that ignites conversation” such as its UOKM8? campaign around men’s mental health, Turner described the “Say Maaate” campaign as “the beginning of a conversation not the full stop”.

She said their “next step will be to think about how we prompt the conversation” to “continue this really important topic that brings young men on the journey and opens the discussion and helps create more allies and helps create change”.

The Ladbible campaign includes videos on Instagram, a video game-style website and blog posts. Turner said content such as vox pops and educational carousels was designed to put tackling casual sexism and misogyny within friendship groups into “young people’s social feeds”.

The comments below Ladbible’s posts on Instagram (“should change their account name to Lassbible” and “how about sexism on the other side of things” being amongst the more printable) suggest the campaign is not persuading everyone.

Turner said in response: “There’s been an incredible level of engagement, some of which is really positive and some of which – there are clearly men that are feeling challenged, and so some of which is negative. And where it’s really been surprising is the number of people that we’ve seen in the comments that have called out some of those misogynist comments.”

She added: “We’re just really proud to get involved in such an important topic. With our scale of our audience, it’s really important to help create positive societal change and leave a legacy for young people.”

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Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
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