New UN Women Ad Campaign Uses Google To Make A Point

AdvertisingWomen's Rights 43 Comments

Working toward gender equality around the world, UN Women has created this incredibly telling and disturbing ad campaign using actual Google search results to illustrate the sexist attitudes that still exist in our world today.

Google searches like “women cannot”, “women should”, “women need to” and “women shouldn’t,” ended up with these autocomplete results: “women need to be put in their places,” “women cannot be trusted,” “women shouldn’t have rights,” and “women should stay home.” The results are reflective of Google’s most popular search terms.

Each image is time stamped with the date, 09/03/13, which was when actual Google results were found.

Google is the world’s largest search engine and these results are reflective of the site’s most popular search terms. Unfortunately, gender inequalities remain deeply entrenched in every society and this campaign only serves as a reminder that we still have a lot of work to do.




Photos: Gute Werbung/UN Women
Campaign by Memac Ogilvy & Mather Dubai

  • Dejuitsi

    Great ads.

    Interestingly enough, when you type in “women you” – “women you should know” comes up. Your site is doing its job!

  • AM

    You get similar responses when you do the same thing for men… its a never ending battle designed for society to part take in so we just fight.

    • PM

      You do not get similar responses. I don’t understand why you’d just lie like that.

      • rchrd881

        YOU might not get similar responses. I do. Google search suggestions are customized based on search history and interests (the precise algorithm is secret and proprietary).

  • lame

    Lame… Typ in google “all men…” you get: “must die” “are pigs” etc…. If you typ in “men cannot be…” you get: “trusted” “drive”.. Oh I guess the whole world thinks like this about men… Very poor ads…

    • PM

      It’s not nearly as bad as the women stuff. You must admit it.

      • Daniel

        All men must die and women can’t drive. Just the way life goes, gotta rise above adversity 🙂

      • Ryan W.

        I got;
        women need to

        be wanted
        grow up
        shut up
        feel safe
        be dominated

        know about men
        stop complaining
        feel secure
        feel wanted

        Men need to

        ejaculate (?!)
        feel needed

        be men
        feel appreciated
        grow up
        feel safe
        be respected



        … It’s not great, but it’s nothing like the UN ads.

    • me

      Just did that. #1 was all men are rapists. After that was cheaters, liars, pigs, should be castrated, slaves to women, kicked in the balls…wowzers!

      • Jes

        Yup, and that totally leads to the large scale abuse, hatred, and oppression of men…oh wait…it doesn’t. Totally the same doe.

    • Dave

      Actually – it’s a representation of what people generally type into Google for it’s algorithm to auto complete – so yes its an issue and yes it’s important. How you would ‘improve’ the situation?

  • zenpooh01

    well i for one think we should all type into the google search bar “women cannot put up with this misogyny shit any longer” and see what would happen to the search results then!

    • AWomanWithABrain

      or just “no more misogyny”

  • CSmith

    So important to read. This is true and sad

  • anon

    You get the same thing when you type in this for men. Can’t we just accept the fact that all types of people post terrible things online

    • Anon

      You know I was about to agree with you there, specially on that last part, but then I put in “men are” and got relatively neutral things plus “better than women”. I varied with other verbs and again, they’re really neutral or random.

      • Anon

        Sorry, me again. I added “men cannot” which I must admit wasn’t so nice, with things like “be trusted” or “be feminists”, like stupid limits you know but then I typed “women cannot” and it was worse, among which “teach men”

        • me

          I put in ‘men should be’ and got castrated, slaves to women, kicked in the balls etc.

      • colleen7

        I got
        Men should…
        always pray
        not get married
        er length hair
        er bag
        definitely nothing negative

    • PaulS

      I think they are very effective. The issue is that women are experiencing sexism and violence against women, men are not.

  • Mildly Annoyed SEO Guy

    While I understand the essence of the article and want to support the purpose behind the ad campaign, it’s mildly annoying and misleading. These are not the *top* results from google – these are the top results from the machine that the google search was done on based on the browsing and search history of whomever used it the most, based on the browsing habits of said individual.

    Do I want equality for all? Yes.
    Do I support this ad campaign? With the understanding that it is to raise awareness, yes.
    In it’s entirety? No.

    It is misleading to say these are the top results of ANYWHERE without first understanding how search engines work.

    • Anon

      You may and may not have a point. If you repeat a search, yes it will come up faster for you for your convenience. However, it is possible that these search results were the top results at one time (they change a lot, I’ve tried it with various other things). Like when people randomly search “why is jesus..” and get back “riding a dinosaur in my living room”. Never searched that in my life, yet there it was. It gives you something to start looking for, because its the most searched for item, unless you already have something starting that same way. Like when I used to type “tu” it would give me various different possibilities, but over time it’s become just a direct to tumblr. In fact, when I searched these starters (the ones on the campaign) I did get various of the same results, yet I have never put them in before (much less anything related). So it’s not completely up to the user’s history.

    • Kate

      Also, that’s only true if you use it on a known ip address or with a computer with Google’s cookies on it. Wipe cookies and use an anonymous ip and Google will return the most common results since it has no data on this new computer/connection. It is very easy to get public instead of personal results.

    • Nagi

      I got the same results as in this ad…And I have never looked up those things, and I looked it up today Tuesday Oct. 22nd and in Canada. Safe to say this pops up anywhere.

      To be fair I also did it with the word men. And again got the same results as what people above are saying.

  • Pip Gerard

    Yes but type in ‘Women Can {space}” and you get … ‘Women Can Vote’, Women Can Do Conference’, ‘Women Can Have It All’, ‘Women Can See More Colors’ and ‘Women Can Vote in America’. I think the answer is that it’s high time the world (and most especially the media) stop always looking for the negative and instead search for the positive.

    • Anon

      We search for what we can change and improve. We’re not going to focus on that which is already right. I mean it’s good and all, but we’re going to focus on that which is not right yet, so we can get it all to better.

      Maybe you’re the one that’s negative, seeing it as only negative things instead of opportunities of improvement. Like me 🙂 Maybe the world (and media) should stop demonizing the negative and characterizing it as bad and instead of parts of life that can lead to a better change.

      • me

        You must be American. Unlike me 🙂 Maybe the world (and Media) should lead by example (as I’m sure Pip is suggesting) rather than bombard negativity into the public.

        • colleen7

          It is not “bombarding negativity into the public” to point out the truth. It is a little offensive to say that millions of women not only have to live in poverty, get forced into child marriage to pay off family debts and be denied the right to an education, freedom to drive, vote or work but they also better shut up about it because hearing about it makes you feel bummed. Tad narcissistic of you, don’t you think?

    • Francesco D’Arcangeli

      It’s not bombarding the negative, it’s worrying about a problem.

      What if you came to me and said “hey, you know there are many kids that die of malnutrition, it’s a serious problem”
      And I replied “hey, cheer up, stop bombarding with the negative, there are a lot of kids who become successful sportsmen, scientists…”
      There you go.

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  • SarahAbby

    ad campaign is about illustrating the sexist attitudes that still exist in our
    world today, yet it uses only women who are young and conventionally beautiful
    for the images. It is perpetuating the same
    tired old assumptions that women’s worth is in their appearance that it claims
    to be fighting.

  • Searcher

    I’m actually getting quite positive things mostly when I search these things…

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  • there is one problem with these ‘results’, not all of them are real, there is an internet meme about women not being in the kitchen making a sandwich, it’s the same as using the slang ‘gay’ in a negative manner (i’ve even seen gay people use it, it’s not about the literal meaning, but the outrageous context or simply the texture of the word like most slang)

  • Miroslaw Horbal

    This is incredibly biased. The ads seem to forget that:

    1. Google search is localized and personalized, so those results could be cherry picked
    2. As many have already said, results for ‘men’, ‘blacks’, ‘asians’, and ‘gays’ give very similar if not worse results
    3. The claim that this is ‘what the world thinks of women’ is clearly false. Unless ‘the world’ is composed of only those individuals who Google search in English.

    Furthermore, how on earth is “why cannot women speak in church” and “why cannot women be bishops” in any way indicative of oppression against women? It’s a legitimate question that I myself do not have the answer to. Does me Google searching those questions make me oppressive towards women? I doubt it.

    Here’s a more reasonable hypothesis for the above results: people who are google searching such things (and similar for any group of people) are ignorant. But isn’t that the point of Google in the first place? I rarely Google search something that I already know, I Google search things I want to find out. I don’t know why women should be put in the kitchen or why people would say that, I want to see the arguments for that premise. I don’t know why women can’t be bishops, seems stupid to me, I’d like to know what kind of rules there are regarding that premise. Etc, etc.

    This is just marketing. And poor marketing at that.

  • Vince Barma

    I like the one comment: Actually – it’s a representation of what people generally type into Google for it’s algorithm to auto complete – so yes its an issue and yes it’s important. He’s kinda right there, Mr Dave is— Googles auto-complete algorithm is GENERATING these responses…in other words, there isn’t a REAL person giving us back these responses, only a computer-generated false-intellegence is at work here, based on as little as TWO real subject requests asked of it. So, if the computer gets 50k requests of “Women should be made more equal” and TWO requests for “Women should learn to drive better” Its going to put BOTH of them up. It Knows NO equality—because its a computer, and has NO emotions. that being said, and be that as it may, yeah…its still a messed up illustration, but I don’t think its fair to say thats what THE WHOLE WORLD Thinks Of Women! I happen to Love Them!

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  • John

    you can’t base a “study” off results like these. First of all starting with phrases such as “women can’t” is inherently biased. Also this says absolutely nothing about the results found when you search these terms.

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