Dr Rebecca Swift on the need to promote ‘inclusive and authentic portrayals of masculinity’

Getty Images - Dr Rebecca Swift (2)

Plus: Keeping up with the AI evolution and preparing for the Paris Olympics.

Dr Rebecca Swift, senior vice president of creative at Getty Images, told Mediaweek that there is a “need for brands and media to promote more inclusive and authentic portrayals of masculinity that are real and relatable, as well as resonate with both male and female audiences.”

Swift participated in a panel discussion on masculinity at the 2024 Cannes Lions alongside representatives from the UnStereotype Alliance, Movember, Diageo, Mindshare, and New Macho.

The festival saw the unveiling of Getty Images’ VisualGPS insights, which outlined the mismatch in how men are shown in advertising and media and the shifting values and roles associated with modern masculinity.

“We explored what would happen if we could shift the way men are depicted in advertising and media to better address their values and realities today to resituate men in a role that works for them and society,” she told Mediaweek from the festival.

Getty explored what would happen if the way men are depicted in advertising and media could be changed to better address today’s values and realities and show men in a role that works for them and society.

“It couldn’t come at a more critical time, as the rise of dangerous gender stereotypes and messages of toxic masculinity circulated by online influencers in recent years has led to an urgent examination of masculinity in Australia,” she added.

Swift highlighted Getty’s AI prompt battle, which was held in partnership with TikTok, NVIDIA, and Absolut. She described it as an “epic showdown of creative prowess with AI image generation” in which the audience voted for the best visual.

“By partnering with these outstanding brands, we were able to demonstrate how to combine human creativity with generative AI technology to create amazing visual assets.”

She also highlighted the Turkish Airlines activation at the Palais as an immersive experience of Refik Anadol’s work, showing a real-life application of AI-generated content.

“It was exciting to see creators being given more air-time this year. From podcasters to influencers, brands and agencies were keen to demonstrate their belief in human creators, inviting them to take the stage across the Croisette,” she added.

Getty at the Games: Comprehensive coverage and new technology

As the world counts down to the start of the Paris Olympics, Swift noted that this will be the first opening ceremony not held in a stadium, which will impact how the games are captured. She said double the number of photographers will be in Paris, compared to the Tokyo and Rio games, to capture more than five million images.

“We’ve been working for years to plan comprehensive coverage of the 6 km opening ceremony across the Seine and will be strategically placed at vantage points along the river, rooftops, boats and more.

“We’re also deploying new technologies to capture unique angles of indoor sports, including underwater robotics and cameras integrated into the roofs of venues.”

AI: “The shift in conversation is the next step”

Swift noted that the discussion surrounding AI again dominated at the festival, but this time with a “matured” tone.

“Focus had shifted to less speculative and more practical discussions around ways of working with AI tools and the importance of ethical sourcing and trust.”

Swift noted that Getty’s VisualGPS research reflected the shift in demand for more authenticity and transparency.

She also said conversations on diversity, equity, and inclusion were reframed through the lens of how generative AI perpetuates stereotypes and biases of the past.

“This shift was important for keeping the discussion about representation at the top of the agenda for the year to come, especially as our VisualGPS research indicates that 70% of consumers agree that advertising showing a wide range of behaviours and personalities makes them feel more connected to brands,” she said.

Swift said Getty Images understands that its images and videos “shape how we perceive ourselves and the world around us” and “drive meaningful brand-consumer connections.”

“With more and more AI-generated visuals dominating online content, the shift in conversation is the next step in the evolution of building authenticity and brand trust through impactful visuals.”

Keeping up with the evolution

As AI constantly changes, Getty Images is keeping pace with its evolution by launching two generators powered by Nvidia’s technology: Generative AI by Getty Images, tailored for corporates, and Generative AI by iStock, built for small businesses and freelance creators.

Swift explained that both tools are “exclusively trained” in Getty’s creative library, which only contains images created in the real world and intended for commercial projects, such as advertising.

“This distinction is crucial because, unlike other competitors, our AI image generators are not only trained on licensed data but also are not being trained on AI-generated content. For those unfamiliar with the technicalities of AI, remember this: when training models, quality in leads to quality out,” she said.

“As a result, we provide customers with a truly commercially safe solution—one trained on premium licensed creative content, free from risk for commercial use and legally indemnified,” she added.

Getty Images recently inked a responsible data licensing partnership with Picsart, a creative editing platform, to bring commercially safe, responsible AI imagery to creators, marketers, and small businesses.

Swift noted that the model, built from scratch by Picsart’s AI lab, will be trained exclusively on Getty Images’ licensed creative content.

“For the industry, this partnership signifies boundless possibilities while also showcasing the importance of taking an intentional approach.”

“Allowing customers to elevate their entire end-to-end creative process”

Looking ahead, Swift said that Getty Images will continue to help businesses and individuals create a higher level while saving time and money and mitigating risk.

She noted that this can be done through AI tools and creative libraries, which are a source of authenticity, diversity, creativity, and quality.

“Ultimately, it’s about allowing customers to elevate their entire end-to-end creative process to find the right visual content for different needs.”

Swift noted that their insights, supported by its creative intelligence platform VisualGPS, are an important pillar of activity.

“Getty Images is one of the only content companies that invest in its creator community, working directly with our content creators to produce visuals that are powered by bespoke research and insights and are exceptionally authentic, representative, and diverse.”

Top image: Dr Rebecca Swift

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