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Red carding misogyny

22 September, 2023

Heineken recently orchestrated a social media experiment that had UK football fans scratching their heads. When The Social Swap asked pro-footballers Gary Neville and Jill Scott temporarily trading profiles on “X” (formerly Twitter), they uncovered a startling reality: after Gary slipped into Jill’s social media boots to cover the UEFA Champions League matches, he was met with jabs to ‘get back in the kitchen’ and to ‘leave football to the boys’, not to mention a marriage proposal. Meanwhile, Jill, masquerading as Gary, encountered praise for her football wisdom and objectivity.

Here we see how a brand can use their influence to take on the social issues of today – like tackling gender bias in the world’s favourite sport. Heineken’s mission? To score one for humanity with the help of Arwen, an AI-powered social media referee determined to counter online toxicity and make the internet a more ‘social’ place. This arrives at an interesting moment for “X” as tensions between freedom of speech and the consequences of unfettered freedom of expression once again raise their head.

Heineken’s efforts haven’t stopped here though. The ‘Fresher Football page offers football statistics free from gender bias in a similar attempt to counter anti-women attitudes.

The Social Swap experiment cleverly underscores the fact that gender bias in sport persists both on the field and in the stands. But Heineken’s mission to level the gender playing field isn’t just about swapping accounts—it aims to rewrite the rulebook on how we all engage online.

By Meg Seckel

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