DDB’s Correct The Internet campaign stirs up UK parliament

DDB Group Aotearoa’s ‘Correct The Internet’ campaign has caused ripples in the UK parliament when it was recently presented to the Women and Equalities Committee.

This initiative, in collaboration with DDB and Finch for Team Heroine, is aimed at increasing the visibility of female athletes and seeks to rectify the existing imbalance in searchable information, which puts sportswomen at a disadvantage.

During the discussion on the ‘Correct The Internet’ campaign, Jo Ward, Head of Coach Education & Qualifications at LTA (Lawn Tennis Association), said that not only are female athletes portrayed in a manner that is not athletic, there is also general misinformation on the internet.

“‘Correct the Internet’ is a scheme that we’re supporting; if you were to Google who has won the most Grand Slam titles, the answer to that would be Novak Djokovic. But actually the answer is not Novak Djokovic – he’s won 23. So, that doesn’t take into consideration Serena Williams, who has also won 23, or Margaret Court who has won 24. There are so many instances like that where the amazing achievements of female athletes just aren’t even on the record for everybody to see. There’s this general male bias in terms of search engines. 

“I am now an avid participator in ‘Correct The Internet’ if I see things like that; there’s a tool where you can actually go in and change the narrative.”

Gary Steele, Chief Creative Officer at DDB Group Aotearoa, says he and the team were “thrilled” to have the campaign mentioned in the UK parliament.

Gary Steele.

“It’s not often you work on a piece of work that makes its way around the world and gets into places like parliament discussions and especially with this, where they presented it to the Women Equalities Committee, and Joe Ward did a fantastic job sharing it with them.”

However, there is still more work to be done. While some search results had been updated to present the searcher with the correct information, some had reverted back to showing the incorrect information over time.

“There has been a lot of progress from search engines, however, a lot of it has also reverted back, which is disappointing for us. The more social pressure we can keep applying, and the technical pressure on the fixing the actual incorrect mistakes, that just makes everything better, the more people talking about it.”

While Steele says he doesn’t believe there will ever be a real end to this campaign, there need to be steps in place to get the job done.

“Our name is Correct the Internet, and while it’s still incorrect, our job is not done.”

Driving force behind the campaign, former Football Fern Rebecca Sowden, says: “Having the campaign discussed in UK Parliament and fuelling the conversation around gender equity in sports, on the internet and more broadly is a dream come true and is a career highlight”.

Rebecca Sowden.

“We had big hopes for Correct the Internet and always saw it as more than just a one-off campaign and as a society-wide movement, so to enter the debate at the highest levels and within policy is really up there.”

She says the aim of the campaign was always to drive action from the bottom up and top down, encouraging people to submit feedback to the algorithms.

“If the search engines themselves aren’t able to commit to permanent change in terms of ensuring sportswomen are given their rightful place on the internet then having government involved is the next best thing. We now hope Correct the Internet will follow the UK’s lead and enter parliaments across the globe.”

She adds: “Correct the Internet wouldn’t be where it is today without the support of the many organisations, athletes, media and people like Jo and the LTA pushing the cause and helping drive change. In true women’s sport fashion it really has been a collective effort and seeing Jo driving the conversation around Correct the Internet in UK parliament is proof of this.”

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